My kids have only 13 days of school left. Once their finals are over in early June, they’ll be free…at least for the next 2½ months. I’m happy for them…I remember the joy of summer vacation – when the days seemed endless and full of fun, sun and friends. Yes, summer is a great time from a kid’s perspective! However, for working parents, it can be stressful.
Weeks before the last day of school, working parents have to line up childcare, camps, babysitters, and summer activities so that they can go to work knowing their kids are cared for and safe. The challenges vary by the child’s age. For young children, full-day camps are usually the best bet. This option provides daycare, as well as the opportunity for extra activities like swimming and trips to amusement parks.
The problem with older kids
But older kids – like my teenagers – are often on their own. I admit that I don’t like leaving my kids home all day, but on the other hand, there aren’t many day camps for 15 and 17-year-olds. I decided a few years ago that if my kids were old enough to babysit for other people, they could stay alone at home for a few hours. It’s still not easy going to work each day knowing that they’re home without adult supervision. Luckily, my kids are trustworthy and aren’t inclined to get into trouble, but I’ve found that it’s important to have a few basic ground rules in place.
- Don’t go anywhere without informing a parent first, either by phone call or text. I insist on knowing the whereabouts of my kids at any given time. That doesn’t mean they have to stay in the house all day, but they do need to clear it with my husband or me first before they go anywhere.
- No friends in the house during the day. Teenagers in an empty house with no supervision = trouble. This rule is absolute. If a parent isn’t home, no friends (not even BFFs) are allowed in our house.
- Get some work done. I leave a small chore list every day – empty the dishwasher, fill the dogs’ water bowl, empty the trashcans. Nothing extreme, but I feel it’s important that they make some contribution to the household during the time they’re home.
My kids are busy in the summer with many activities (swim team, marching band Boy Scout camp, etc.). They also love to hang out with friends at the pool or the mall. I think that’s great! I want them to enjoy summer and freedom from school, but I also want them to be safe. A few simple ground rules and ongoing communication are key to having a great summer for everyone in the family.
For more information
For a listing of camps in the Philadelphia area, check out this link: