nicoleleighshaw

Every Mom’s Hell: Planning Summer Activities for Kids

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It’s almost summer and you’re ready to relax and let things go. It’s been a hectic year and there’s nothing like endless days of sun and fun and loosey-goosey obligations. Imagine the kids riding leisurely around the neighborhood on bikes and skateboards and hoverboards and skatebikes and bikeboards and golf carts if you live in a planned community named after a tree and vague land feature (Ginko Glens). They stop only to erect lemonade stands and frolic through yard after yard of sprinklers. Look, there goes a firefly! Get the mason jars, kids! It’s summer!

No. It’s heaven.

Except that’s no summer I’ve ever heard of. Do they not have camps in that summer? Do they not have math enrichment classes? Are those kids not taking immersion ukulele? What? A “relaxing” summer? Say “relaxing” again. I dare you, say “relaxing” again, motherf*cker.

You can’t relax because you have to plan. Remember April, when your friend texted you, “You think you’ll do art camp again this summer?”

Maybe. But with three kids and 3,000 school flyers for everything from competitive thumb wrestling to haiku club, who knows?!

Trying to juggle camp registrations, sporting events, vacations, visits to the pool, and math worksheets requires a PhD in time management and a healthy stock of wine, of which you only have the latter. But you’re not a quitter, mom. You’re a summer activities achiever. Mimosa up, mommies, it’s time to type your health insurance information into 52 online registration forms. 

Here are 7 reasons that planning for summer activities is hell.

1. Peer Pressure
If your child asks you if he can take junior zoo keeping camp this summer and you’re like, Who the hell is taking junior zookeeping camp? The answer is 7 out of 10 kids on your block alone. Thanks to that one really gung-ho parent who hyped it up among all the kids, we’re all screwed. It’s camp or entertain your own kids for all of the next 11 weeks.

2. Registration forms
Get out your ID cards, there are forms to be filled in. You’ll need your address, phone number, alternate phone number, phone number of next of kin, phone number of your family physician, family dentist, spiritual adviser, username, password, name of your first pet and high school mascot, your social security number, the kids’ social security numbers, your checking account number, credit card number, credit card CVV number, medical insurance group number, medical insurance policy number, medical insurance 800 number, Pi written out to the 15th decimal place, emergency contacts, blood type, food allergy info, medical history, test results from a recent stool sample, e-mail address, other parent or guardian’s email address, full name of the child, full name of the child’s siblings, full name of your favorite US President, name child prefers to be called, name of the person who referred you to this camp/class/club/sport, concerns about your child that you want the camp/class/club/sport organizers to know about, what you hope your child will get out of this camp/class/club/sport, and the people you’d have on your zombie apocalypse team.

3. Summer budgeting
Great idea! You really should start saving in September for that vacation and those camps and that swim club membership. Too bad it’s June and you spent the money on groceries and the mortgage. Sure, you have food and shelter, but what about camp? Are you really okay spending an entire summer with your children?

4. Planning a vacation
Between the things you forget to buy, forget to bring, and forget you left in last year’s suitcase, vacation packing and unpacking isn’t something that happens once a year, it’s something that never ends. The packing–unpacking continuum is exactly the kind of thing that happens in hell.

5. Planning a staycation
Okay, renew local museum memberships. Make a spreadsheet for the open swim times at your Y. Figure out which weekends you can take the family to a theme park, a ball game, and the county fair. Now let the realization dawn on you that your budget would be just as busted if you went on a one-week vacation.

6. Calendar management
Woot, turns out that your three kids are old enough to attend the same co-ed summer basketball camp! But it also turns out that the camp is separated into age groups and they all meet at different places on the same day. Sad emoji. May the lord of Smartphone calendars have mercy on your soul.

7. No routine
When you finally pencil in that last summer activity, admiring your color-coded events for the months of June, July, and August, you’ll realize there is one glaring problem: irregularity. Like your uncertain bowels after a long road trip fueled by gas station burritos, you have no idea what to expect from day to day. Not one single week resembles another. Some have half-day morning activities and other weeks you’re off to grandma’s or a beach house or a cabin or rehab. You have Tuesday evening fireworks and Sunday afternoon ball games. Your kid has a sports training camp that runs Thursday—Monday. There are 12 one-time-only events (circus, state fair, movie premiere, repeat) and those all happen on a day when you also have other plans. You have lots of things to do, but no routine to string them together. What day do the kids go to lil’ buckaroo rodeo camp? Summerday. What time do they need to be at underwater Tae Kwon Do? Summertime. Summerday and Summertime are approximately 77 days that are both weekend and weekday, morning and evening, and in every single second your kids are dressed to go swimming.

You could give up now and embrace that long-gone summer we like to misremember from our youth, the one in which we had no plans or cares or commitments. Except that’s just the memory of a child, at the periphery of which lurks a frantic mother trying to figure out how to pay for braces and Camp Itchywanna and who in the hell will drive your little brother to swim lessons on the mornings you have gymnastics?! 

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Photo: Getty