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”
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.