My Guide to Summer Break


I’ve been planning our summer since January. As soon as we took down the Christmas tree, I started devising a master spreadsheet documenting our planned summer expenses and hopes for travel, activities, and home improvement projects. I’ve been dutifully managing this Google Document, highlighting cells in red, green, blue — you name it — to track all that we plan to do this summer.

Not exactly spontaneous, I’ll admit, but practical for a family with two growing kids, a nearly century-old house, and ambition.

So what’s gone into planning my kids’ four-month-long summer?

For the preschool set, this extra-long summer can be a relief and a burden. For my youngest, who’s got only potty training and his birthday party on the docket for the first few months, free time to sleep in, stay in pajamas, and play with Imaginext comprises the perfect day. For my oldest, who is nearing five and has another year of preschool to go, that list of activities would make her (and me) crazy. Given that we’re not millionaires, I’ve broken our summer into weeks to make sure that she’s got enough scheduled ones (with some unstructured ones peppered throughout mid-May through mid-September) to keep us all sane.

She’ll be doing three weeks of camp at a progressive preschool that we could never afford during the year. She’ll have two weeks of camp at her preschool, tacked on to the end of the school year, where she can go and spend time with her favorite teachers and make some new friends from other classes. I’ve also signed her up for classes at the YMCA — swimming, tennis, sports — that she’ll do with her brother later in the summer. And we’ve got a few vacations — camping, a car trip to Virginia, time at the New Jersey Shore, and an end-of-summer trip out West — that will fill up those sixteen weeks of summer.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in free time (and giving kids the chance to be bored). But, after last summer that involved too many unstructured weeks, I’ve learned that our summer needs to be somewhat orchestrated, too. I’ve packed lots of activities into August, when it’s unbearably humid and I become one cranky mama. I hope our open weeks in June can be savored and enjoyed because we’re fresh out of the school year routine and the humidity has yet to build a cloud in my brain.

Our open days will be filled with trips to the zoo, aquarium, and library; playdates with friends we see often and and not-so-often during the school year; and activities like crafts and cooking. Obviously I’ll have more free days with my son, but he’ll be game for just about anything. My daughter will enjoy her free time more if she has future activities to look forward to (in our house we count the number of “sleeps” until a given event).

With this schedule, I hope to keep my sanity and enjoy my kids and their littleness. I love being an at-home mom, but even I have my limits on breaking up fights, fixing snacks, and figuring out what to do next. This schedule should give me some relief from the never-ending summer (did I say that!?) while also providing time to bond with my bear cubs.

Do you remember those long summer weeks as a kid? What were your favorite things to do?


2 thoughts on “My Guide to Summer Break”

  1. I would spend hours upon hours at the creek, sitting, listening, watching, and of course splashing.

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