Are We Over-scheduling Our Kids?
Summer Camp Conundrum
Before the first flowers of spring have sprung, parents are forced to make our week-by-week summer plans so we can register our kids for summer camps. At first I thought it was crazy that these camp sign-ups are in January and February, but I soon realized it might very well be a strategic move. After all, aren’t parents more likely to shell out the cash for summer camps when they are in the throws of winter and snow days and children that are cooped up and cranky?
This PBS article speaks to the conundrum many parents face. We don’t want our kids to be sitting around bored all summer, but we also don’t want to over-schedule our families.
Each year I struggle with how I should structure the kids summer activities. They should have time to just run around and be kids right? But then they just keep asking to watch TV and complain that they have nothing to do. And since I work part-time, won’t they be better off at a fun camp then just home with a babysitter?
The Good Old Days
I was talking with my mom about this, and it made me realize just how much things have changed in a very short time. She said that when my sisters and I were kids, we went to sleep away camp for a week when we were 11 or 12, and maybe a soccer or dance camp here and there, but other than that we played outside, went to the pool, took road trips and drove my mom nuts. We didn’t have planned camps every week of the summer, especially not when we were in preschool. She said it seemed crazy that my five-year-old’s summer was already planned week-by-week.
My argument was that things have changed, and most parents sign their kids up for more camps in the summer because they need the structure. And honestly, parents are just busier these days. But it did get me thinking. Should we be spending all this money on camps, leaving so little unstructured time for spontaneous summer fun and lazy mornings in our pajamas? This Star Tribune article is another great resource that weighs in on this topic.
Ultimately, I decided on a half-and-half solution. I signed the kids up for camps two weeks of each month during the summer, which left two weeks open each month for non-structured activities. Hopefully, this will be a good balance of camps and free time. Check back with me in August, and I’ll let you know if it was a success.
We would love to hear your thoughts…how will you schedule activities for your family this summer?