ARTICLES: The Do Nothing Summer

In the past few days, a few posts have popped up in my Facebook feed that make me want to roll my eyes. Or punch something. It entirely depends on where my pregnancy rage is at these days.

They go a little something like “This summer, my kids are doing nothing.” These articles expound the virtues of not over-scheduling your kids this summer and embracing the art of slow parenting. Here are two that have been making the rounds:

The aforementioned “This Summer, My Kids are Doing Nothing”

“I’m Opting for a ‘Slow Parenting’ Summer”

Admittedly, I’m not currently searching for camps. Chick will be attending Camp Uterus this summer, where I am the one and only counselor. However, when I read both these articles, I just had to wonder who these parents are and who they think the rest of us parents are.

Over all, I agree that kids these days seem to have a lot of extracurriculars. I remember having hours of free time in the summer to lounge around in bed and read all day. It was glorious. I also, however, had parents with exceptionally flexible schedules. Unless something drastic in my life changes between now and when I’m facing this dilemma, I will still be working 9-5, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Into the summer camp fray I go.

So yes, it sticks in my craw that these articles imply not sending your kids to camp is some how “better.” They fail to address the reality of working parents– camps aren’t about making sure your kids are always busy, but also about making sure they have a safe, engaging place to be while you’re at work. It isn’t because we want our kids to be over scheduled, more like we don’t have a choice.

It also echos the larger debate over daycare. I’ve lined up daycare for Chick because I have to. Neither my husband or I want to give up our jobs because they are the foundation of our financial security (yes, even with the obscene tuition rates of infant care.) For some, being a stay-at-home parent is a more viable choice. If that is something a family can afford and prioritize, fantastic. It is equally fantastic if a family can arrange to have affordable and safe childcare outside the home when the return to their jobs. For many, this isn’t optional– going back to work after having children is the only way to provide a stable future for them. Can we just get away from this whole parenting-pissing contest, please?

Do I begrudge these parents for having their flexibility for a slow summer? Not really. If they can be around with their kids in the summer, that’s wonderful. But for the love of Pete, I do wish that people would realize the act of parenting is complex, and certainly not a one-size-fits-all job.

#rantover

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12 comments

  1. My Perfect Breakdown · May 18, 2015

    I love this rant! I think there is something to be said about finding a balance that fits the families lifestyle and finances.

    • thecommonostrich · May 20, 2015

      I try (and fail) to take posts like this with a grain of salt because I recognize that they are written to be link bait. They aren’t supposed to provide nuanced opinions, but to get people clicking and commenting.

      Buuuut… it still irks me that these kinds of arguments don’t allow for the realities of parents. 75% of US mothers with children at home work. 75%. All this does is foster the divide between working and nonworking parents.

  2. thebarrenlibrarian · May 18, 2015

    This has been on my mind lately too-what in the heck we’ll do when Charlie is in school and we don’t have automatic every day summer care. Luckily that’s a few years down the road, but still-it weighs on me.

    As it is I took the midline approach. I’m cutting back at work to part time, but we’re still doign daycare-I have to. No way around it. It feels like a good compromise though for our lives. Chief is still in school, so me working 50 hours a week just wasn’t going to work anymore.

    • thecommonostrich · May 20, 2015

      Thank you for proving my point! You’re making choices based on what is best for your family. This does not make you a terrible or morally superior parent. It makes you a PARENT. PERIOD.

      This is also why I should avoid Facebook. My feed is getting chock full of parenting crap, which I’m starting to find almost annoying as I used to find pregnancy announcements. 😉

      • thebarrenlibrarian · May 20, 2015

        Ugh. You are NOT WRONG there my friend. I am also tired of the “here’s how awful life with kids is” sort of posts. Someone posted an article titled “The ten Most annoying things about having kids” on my wall the other day. I was like, REALLY?! Why would you post this?!

  3. Jenny F. Scientist, PhD · May 18, 2015

    I stay home with the kids (kind of, I was working part time and lord knows I WANT to work) and I would be locked in a closet drinking alone if I didn’t send them to camp for part of the summer. So there’s that.

  4. labmonkeyftw · May 18, 2015

    One of many many parenting pissing contests to come, Ostrich. You do you. It’ll work out, and chick will be loved and safe. Someone else will do what works for them, and be smug about it. That’s them, not you. Just carry on.

    • thecommonostrich · May 20, 2015

      “Someone else will do what works for them and be smug about it.” Where truer words ever written?

  5. AdoptiveBlackMom · May 19, 2015

    Appreciate the rant. Don’t get me started about camps that end at 1pm, like that isn’t the biggest hustle of the summer. This will NOT be a slow summer for us because I need to keep Hope busy. Heck I’m looking for a one week sleepaway camp so that I can have a little time to gather my wits about me.

  6. thecommonostrich · May 20, 2015

    For. REALS. Who do they think we are? What annoys me is that there is this assumptions made by stuff like this. Time is a luxury, and not everyone has it. This does not make us bad parents.

  7. Nara · May 26, 2015

    My siblings and I went to camp every summer (day camp not overnight) in countries where it’s not a normal summer activity. We loved those weeks as we got to meet loads of other kids and do activities we wouldn’t usually get to do. I think camp is great and as long as kids enjoy it then why not?

    Also I hate those sanctimonious earth mommy posts. They’re so boring and they’re just aimed at making parents feel inadequate. The parents who post them are the types who have literally no life outside of their kids… I think kids are generally happy with happy, loving parents regardless of whether they’re following the latest parenting fad or not!

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