Soon the kids will be out of school, but don’t panic — here are some ways to enjoy some much-needed “me time”.
By Sarah Antrim
Remember when you were a kid and summer meant you were totally free—free from the daily grind of homework, free to sleep in until the early afternoon, and free to spend every waking hour splashing in the pool with friends?
Fast-forward some 20 years… now summer means anxious kids bugging you for entertainment and plenty of skinned knees and bee stings to attend to. Their schedules clear which means your only alone time is in the bathroom (if you’re lucky enough to have a lock on the bathroom door).
Here are a few tips on how to get the kids out of the house and score some much-needed me-time this summer.
Summer Camps & Classes
Even a camp that takes kids away for an hour a day can save your sanity.
Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney, once commented on that kids who go away to summer camp have a real opportunity: “[kids] are away from [their] mother and father to make [their] own decisions.” If your kids are new to the camp scene, start small with a class that only meets for an hour or two a day or a few times a week. Sleepaway camp is great for the seasoned camper but make sure that you’re both ready to make that commitment.
Schedule Play Dates
After being trapped in a classroom for 9 months where everything from lunch time to bathroom breaks is scheduled to the minute, some kids become overwhelmed at the thought of having free reign over their routine. Instead of walking outside or hopping on their bike, they’re likely to park themselves in front of anything with an LCD screen.
While decompressing like this might work for a few hours, it’s definitely not a good way to spend an entire summer.
Coordinate with other parents in your area and take turns supervising so everyone gets an occasional break. Schedule a time for the kids to get out and play together. Whether it be at the pool or street hockey, it forces them to get outside for something more stimulating than screens.
Kids cringe at the thought of cleaning up after their own pets, but send them to an animal shelter and they’re a different person. Sign them up to play with the kittens or walk the dogs at the local Humane Society for a few hours every week.
Volunteering builds character and a sense of responsibility, great for kids that are always begging for that puppy but can’t even manage to put the cap back on the toothpaste.
Put Them to Work
Many older kids are mature enough to start babysitting. Check to see if your park district has babysitter certification courses where kids will learn the basics of keeping another tiny human being alive.
If your kids don’t quite fit into that mold of responsibility, just about any able-bodied child can do yard work. Teach them to cut the grass and pull weeds, then send them off to the neighbors. They’ll benefit from the extra money in their pocket and you’ll have a quiet house for an hour or two.
Sleepover at Grandma’s
When in doubt, ship ‘em off to Grandma’s. You know they’ll be safe and she’ll get to fulfill her duty of letting the kids eat ice cream for dinner and stay up past their bedtime.
Don’t limit yourself to doting grandparents, either. Aunts, uncles, and trusted neighbors — it takes a village! Kids who have the support of other loving adults besides their parents have a richer set of experiences and an expanded worldview. Meanwhile, you’ll appreciate some precious moments to recharge.
Whether you love yoga, strength training, cycling, or Zumba, try to find a gym or rec class that offers child care options. You’ll have the opportunity for an hour of healthy exercise and come back to parenting feeling more rejuvenated–a definite win-win.
To kids, summer means freedom. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a little bit, too.