Ask Sassy: No summer vacation plans? That doesn’t mean it has to suck

In Kids, Motherhood by Guest Writer3 Comments

summer vacation inferiority syndrome

Dear Sassy:

I’m dreading summer. Did you ever think anyone would ever say that? Well, I am, because summer is coming soon and we have no plans. There’s no money for a big fancy vacation or summer camp or even day camp. I have no idea how we’re going to get through all those days before school starts again. Plus, my kids know their friends are going to summer camp and to Hawaii, and they want to go too. How will I survive?

Dear Summer Unlovin’:

Seems like you are well and truly screwed. The thought of a whole summer of nowhere to go and nothing to do with my kids brings a wintry chill into my heart. If I were to spend summer this way, the children would be climbing the walls and I would be going out of my mind. You should not suffer this fate. So what must you do?

Cue “Let It Go” from Frozen, of course. Minus the ice castle.

Let go (and encourage your kids to, also) of jealousy about other people’s plans. You’ll never be able to keep up with Joneses in summer activities or anything else. Best to let them have their awesome vacations/summer camps/swimming pools/life size bounce houses in the backyard, be happy for them, and move on.

Your solution is to think of this positively instead of negatively. Focus on what you CAN do!

First, count up how many days of summer vacation you truly have, and schedule them. My kids’ school is off for exactly 69 days. Count them up for your own kids.

Now figure out the events you already have planned, and weekends maybe when their other parent is home. You can subtract those days.

Now take each week and plan something new that is cheap or free. Consider that if you are going out, you have to take time to get the kids ready, get everyone in the car, drive to the thing, and reverse all of that when you get home. Lots of time and energy is consumed, and you don’t have to worry about the school schedule, so leave yourself plenty of padding. No rushing necessary. Bonus, right?!

Add a playdate every week. Identify all the kids and families you know who will be around at least for part of the summer. Call them up and plan a playdate – invite their kids to your house or the park or the beach, and gratefully accept if they offer to host. I have a friend who has triplets – triplets – and at the beginning of the summer she maps out what they’re going to do every day of every week and plans playdates far in advance. Her kids are 6 now and she still seems relatively sane.

Next add a chore for each child to complete every week. This can be a longer household project like cleaning out the garage or a weekly task like taking out the garbage. Make sure at least some of the kids’ time is filled productively.

I do recommend planning one big special event, maybe midway through the summer, for your family to look forward to. By now you must have one special destination or activity that you all love to do together. Berry picking? An amusement park visit? Have the kids help you out with earning a little extra money towards this adventure so it will have even more meaning when it arrives.

In fact, have the kids help you out with this whole plan. Invite their suggestions and feedback, and make the summer calendar together. Make a summer wish list (but not a “bucket list,” for the love of all things inappropriate) and post it on the fridge.

Before you know it, the number of “blank” days will be really small!

Your biggest goal is to avoid having your children draped all over your house like wilted flowers, doing nothing but playing video games, watching TV, eating all the food, and whining “I’m bored,” or fighting with each other, and driving you insane. To that end, you’d better make for damn sure you build some “me-time” in there for yourself.

Stay strong, friend. Summer’s always over just when you start to love it.

Submit your question for Ask Sassy here! (Or just email me, darling. We can keep it between us. You can also follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page, where I share pro tips on life every week.

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  1. Such great advice, here. In fact, my kids are teenagers with some plans of their own for this summer (including employment and volunteer opportunities), but I might still do a lot of what you suggest. We took a week-long family vacation over spring break (our first in 7 years) and therefore do not have the time or budget to take a summer vacation.

    I’m lucky my kids aren’t young anymore and therefore are willing to sleep in late.
    But I do not accept the wilted-flower summer!

    Libraries, parks, beaches, malls. They’re pretty much free.
    And when my kids say they’re bored, I suggest that we all sit on the couch and read together.

    That gets them quiet every time 😉

  2. Those are some great, simple ideas. I do have my kids in camps but only 3 days a week so we could enjoy some family day plans together, play dates, the beach! But I really like the idea of calendaring way in advance so they’re never stuck at home killing each other while my brain slowly leaks out of my head.

  3. I love all your tips – I think the one big event keeps them looking forward to something and makes it that more special 😉 Great idea.

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