Monday, March 26, 2012

Summertime Quilt

Ah, spring. The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing...and I? I'm panicking. What causes this particular brand of March madness, you ask? Basketball? Nah, not interested. Taxes? Nope, done already thank you. School? No way - it's almost over. Wait. School's almost over? There it is. There's the rub.

Every year about this time, our thoughts turn to summer. Spending time on the beach, grilling out with friends, maybe even going on vacation - all this and more are the things we think of when we think of summer. What we also think of is what we're going to do with our children. I have a job outside the home, and my employer would probably frown on me being off for eleven weeks, even if I could afford the time off. My husband's boss would probably feel the same way.

This brings us to summertime child care, which, as those of you have to arrange it know, will bring you to your knees logistically, financially and mentally. Every single summer, I thank all that is holy that we have two sets of grandparents here in town who are both willing and able to help us out because I have zero idea how we'd make it through the summer months without them. I mean, my income doesn't increase in the summer but without the support of our families, our childcare expense would increase by 250%. Two. Hundred. And fifty percent. This is not an exaggeration on my part in the least.

What generally happens is that we alternate between our parents, some time off ourselves and some day camp/vacation Bible school time. The result is what I like to call "The Quilt". This is the visual I get - all the different people and places, sewn together.  The planning involved with this quilt is fairly enormous. And stressful. The implementation of this planning gets the job done, but it's hard on everyone involved. The kids get dragged all over, they get thoroughly tired of each other and they get lonely for their friends. The adults get worn out from entertaining and transporting the kids, and by the end of the summer we're all kinda fried.

Again, I can't imagine what we would do without the help of our families, but what I'd like to know is how people without this net do it. I started writing this post thinking it would be kind of humorous, but to be honest, the more I write, the more I am bringing myself down about it. So, I guess I'll ask you guys - what do those of you who work during the summer do with your kids? Is it difficult for you too?

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NumberWhisperer said...

Ugh, summer child care. We try to swing a combination of child care, specialty camps, grandma's house, PTO, and a week or two at home while I mime to them "I'm on a call, BE QUIET!!!"

Since it is soooo expensive, I add the challenge of not wanting to spend more than we normally would during the school year. It all results in a color coded calendar that covers our work schedule and their summer plans. The whole thing is way too much work. All so that they can say, "we didn't do anything FUN this summer..."

Michelle Lannou said...

As a single mom with a daughter that will soon be attending school, I have given this a lot of thought. I'm sure my mom wouldn't mind watching her for a week but Caroline probably wouldn't enjoy it!

Luckily her current daycare/preschool has an afterschool program and a summer camp program - they keep the summer camp kids busy with a lot of fun activities. We will be using both of these since I cannot take off of work everytime Charleston County schools are closed. I wouldn't be able to keep my job or take a day off for anything else.

A friend of mine has to worry about this every year and she has 3 girls with different interests and an intolerable ex-husband who makes it difficult every year.