Wedding Woes

Your kids are asking for a break, eff the 'studies'.

Dear Prudence,

When I’ve given my kids the option to stay home rather than attend camps, they spend most, if not all, their time on their computers playing games or watching YouTube and TikTok. To my older son’s credit, he will take some time to cook and my younger son does try to sneak in books past bedtime. My younger son also says he’d do more biking but he can’t while I work because I can’t go with him. They have suggested that I should allow them to do absolutely nothing for the summer and just veg out because I work from home.

They also pointed out that they are straight-A students who have a busy extracurricular schedule during the year. My older one added that it would be his last free summer before high school. Study after study shows that kids often fall behind during the summer academically because they aren’t engaged mentally. As a result, I encourage them to find camps that interest them. Most of the time though, they don’t make an effort to search so I end up researching all the options and highlighting the ones available. I let them choose. Still, they want a summer where they can do absolutely nothing. I already know it’ll involve me prodding them to do something other than play on their iPad (because they manage to find ways to get around screentime limits). Should I let them enjoy, “Summertime, when the living is easy…” or be saved by a camp bell?

—Camp Mom

Re: Your kids are asking for a break, eff the 'studies'.

  • IMO, you need a compromise.   Too much idle time with kids is a nightmare to manage in the house because you're going to get inevitable fights and laziness.

    But many camps run week to week.  So find a couple that are good and have down time for others.  They don't need to be overly scheduled but they also shouldn't have nonstop time with no responsibility. 
  • Why can't the older son take the younger son on bike rides if he's now HS age?  
    Also, why not set parameters on usage of screens/phones/gaming systems?  They are doing enrichment activities in reading and cooking. Why not encourage the oldest to teach the youngest to cook?  Tell them they have to read a certain number of books by the end of the summer? 
     
    I'd likely let the older one slide because he is going into HS and if he's asking for autonomy, this is the easiest entry point.  I'd probably tell the younger one that he's going to camp for at least 2-3 weeks, but split up the weeks he has to go (like maybe 2 weeks back-to-back and then another week later on or something).  

    I loved summer break as a kid.  Also, this drive to schedule kids to the hilt is ridiculous IMO.  There's plenty of obligation in adulthood.  Let kids be kids. 
  • Let them veg most of summer and put screen time limits on the younger one. This feels like making a mountain out of a molehill.
  • Casadena said:
    Let them veg most of summer and put screen time limits on the younger one. This feels like making a mountain out of a molehill.
    I imagine it's likely not.  

    After dealing with this with the kids in 2020 when there were no camps it was a freaking nightmare to police two kids , try to limit screen time and encourage going outside.  

    If DH told me that this summer we should just let the kids stay home and we had to limit screen time while I'm going to be both working and enforcing I would tell him absolutely not and we needed to organize at least a few activities that get the kids up and moving.    When the kids are both home from school with no activity Chiquito on screens is SO LOUD.    DH and I call each other "bro" because it's his favorite word. 
  • banana468 said:
    Casadena said:
    Let them veg most of summer and put screen time limits on the younger one. This feels like making a mountain out of a molehill.
    I imagine it's likely not.  

    After dealing with this with the kids in 2020 when there were no camps it was a freaking nightmare to police two kids , try to limit screen time and encourage going outside.  

    If DH told me that this summer we should just let the kids stay home and we had to limit screen time while I'm going to be both working and enforcing I would tell him absolutely not and we needed to organize at least a few activities that get the kids up and moving.    When the kids are both home from school with no activity Chiquito on screens is SO LOUD.    DH and I call each other "bro" because it's his favorite word. 
    Your kids were also not going into high school 4 years ago - I think that age different is huge at least for the older one - i would have been mortified to be stuck in day camps all summer at 14-15. Younger one maybe some camps or structure depending on his actual age and level of oversight needed. Honest question, is hanging out with friends, going to the pool, etc etc not something kids do all summer anymore?
  • From the letter, it doesn't seem LW is worried about interference w/their job, but more of the "how to make sure my kid is successful".  Which I do empathize with, but honestly, I wish my mother had backed off and let me just veg a bit sometimes.  She's even mentioned that she probably should've let me learn to do nothing and be lazy at times.  I became an overscheduled adult with no boundaries at work and had to learn to separate my productivity from my self worth.

    I don't think LW has to let them go completely feral, but maybe create some summer projects to work on like geocaching or something that is just pure fun and learning is by proxy rather than purpose.
  • Casadena said:
    banana468 said:
    Casadena said:
    Let them veg most of summer and put screen time limits on the younger one. This feels like making a mountain out of a molehill.
    I imagine it's likely not.  

    After dealing with this with the kids in 2020 when there were no camps it was a freaking nightmare to police two kids , try to limit screen time and encourage going outside.  

    If DH told me that this summer we should just let the kids stay home and we had to limit screen time while I'm going to be both working and enforcing I would tell him absolutely not and we needed to organize at least a few activities that get the kids up and moving.    When the kids are both home from school with no activity Chiquito on screens is SO LOUD.    DH and I call each other "bro" because it's his favorite word. 
    Your kids were also not going into high school 4 years ago - I think that age different is huge at least for the older one - i would have been mortified to be stuck in day camps all summer at 14-15. Younger one maybe some camps or structure depending on his actual age and level of oversight needed. Honest question, is hanging out with friends, going to the pool, etc etc not something kids do all summer anymore?
    My kids are close in age to this guy's kids.  Chiquita starts HS next year and I don't anticipate Chiquito's demeanor changing that much in the next year.

    The reality is that if you're not a SAHP or work a job that affords you to have the summers or several days off then the way your kids get to hang out with their friends or go to the pool or go to the beach IS at camp.    There's a town camp that runs about 6 weeks and there's a weekly trip to the beach involved.  Last year DH was in a camp that took the kids to the HS pool.    

    I have a job that occupies my days.   Like this mom I can't just let my kid out to bike without accompanying either of them.  Our road is busy and narrow and it's a horrible combination for bike riding.  They get bored fast riding around the house.    I'm certainly not going to bring them to the beach and just leave them.  

    So to answer your question  -I think those days ended for the majority of kids who have two working parents.  

    I definitely don't think the kids need to be over scheduled but I'm also not going to support nothing booked at all especially for Chiquita.  She's too old for the town camps this year but she's not going to get to sleep in every day and then move to Camp Tik Tok once she's conscious. 
  • banana468 said:
    Casadena said:
    banana468 said:
    Casadena said:
    Let them veg most of summer and put screen time limits on the younger one. This feels like making a mountain out of a molehill.
    I imagine it's likely not.  

    After dealing with this with the kids in 2020 when there were no camps it was a freaking nightmare to police two kids , try to limit screen time and encourage going outside.  

    If DH told me that this summer we should just let the kids stay home and we had to limit screen time while I'm going to be both working and enforcing I would tell him absolutely not and we needed to organize at least a few activities that get the kids up and moving.    When the kids are both home from school with no activity Chiquito on screens is SO LOUD.    DH and I call each other "bro" because it's his favorite word. 
    Your kids were also not going into high school 4 years ago - I think that age different is huge at least for the older one - i would have been mortified to be stuck in day camps all summer at 14-15. Younger one maybe some camps or structure depending on his actual age and level of oversight needed. Honest question, is hanging out with friends, going to the pool, etc etc not something kids do all summer anymore?
    My kids are close in age to this guy's kids.  Chiquita starts HS next year and I don't anticipate Chiquito's demeanor changing that much in the next year.

    The reality is that if you're not a SAHP or work a job that affords you to have the summers or several days off then the way your kids get to hang out with their friends or go to the pool or go to the beach IS at camp.    There's a town camp that runs about 6 weeks and there's a weekly trip to the beach involved.  Last year DH was in a camp that took the kids to the HS pool.    

    I have a job that occupies my days.   Like this mom I can't just let my kid out to bike without accompanying either of them.  Our road is busy and narrow and it's a horrible combination for bike riding.  They get bored fast riding around the house.    I'm certainly not going to bring them to the beach and just leave them.  

    So to answer your question  -I think those days ended for the majority of kids who have two working parents.  

    I definitely don't think the kids need to be over scheduled but I'm also not going to support nothing booked at all especially for Chiquita.  She's too old for the town camps this year but she's not going to get to sleep in every day and then move to Camp Tik Tok once she's conscious. 
    Totally understand why this wouldn't work for your family or your specific kids. 

    Mine will go to camp through 3rd grade and then we'll figure it out, but i can't imagine their summers won't involve LOTS of sleeping in and downtime once they're old enough to mostly manage themselves at home and there's nothing wrong with that either. 

    I think Varuna's assessment is right on. LW seems much more worried about them falling behind than them interrupting her work. If this won't work for her kids she just needs to be up front about that. "thanks for telling me how you feel, unfortunately, having all summer off isn't going to work for our family. How about you pick X number of camps/etc and you can have those other weeks free". or something like that. The "omg will they be ok!?" attitude is a little much, imo.
  • Casadena said:
    banana468 said:
    Casadena said:
    banana468 said:
    Casadena said:
    Let them veg most of summer and put screen time limits on the younger one. This feels like making a mountain out of a molehill.
    I imagine it's likely not.  

    After dealing with this with the kids in 2020 when there were no camps it was a freaking nightmare to police two kids , try to limit screen time and encourage going outside.  

    If DH told me that this summer we should just let the kids stay home and we had to limit screen time while I'm going to be both working and enforcing I would tell him absolutely not and we needed to organize at least a few activities that get the kids up and moving.    When the kids are both home from school with no activity Chiquito on screens is SO LOUD.    DH and I call each other "bro" because it's his favorite word. 
    Your kids were also not going into high school 4 years ago - I think that age different is huge at least for the older one - i would have been mortified to be stuck in day camps all summer at 14-15. Younger one maybe some camps or structure depending on his actual age and level of oversight needed. Honest question, is hanging out with friends, going to the pool, etc etc not something kids do all summer anymore?
    My kids are close in age to this guy's kids.  Chiquita starts HS next year and I don't anticipate Chiquito's demeanor changing that much in the next year.

    The reality is that if you're not a SAHP or work a job that affords you to have the summers or several days off then the way your kids get to hang out with their friends or go to the pool or go to the beach IS at camp.    There's a town camp that runs about 6 weeks and there's a weekly trip to the beach involved.  Last year DH was in a camp that took the kids to the HS pool.    

    I have a job that occupies my days.   Like this mom I can't just let my kid out to bike without accompanying either of them.  Our road is busy and narrow and it's a horrible combination for bike riding.  They get bored fast riding around the house.    I'm certainly not going to bring them to the beach and just leave them.  

    So to answer your question  -I think those days ended for the majority of kids who have two working parents.  

    I definitely don't think the kids need to be over scheduled but I'm also not going to support nothing booked at all especially for Chiquita.  She's too old for the town camps this year but she's not going to get to sleep in every day and then move to Camp Tik Tok once she's conscious. 
    Totally understand why this wouldn't work for your family or your specific kids. 

    Mine will go to camp through 3rd grade and then we'll figure it out, but i can't imagine their summers won't involve LOTS of sleeping in and downtime once they're old enough to mostly manage themselves at home and there's nothing wrong with that either. 

    I think Varuna's assessment is right on. LW seems much more worried about them falling behind than them interrupting her work. If this won't work for her kids she just needs to be up front about that. "thanks for telling me how you feel, unfortunately, having all summer off isn't going to work for our family. How about you pick X number of camps/etc and you can have those other weeks free". or something like that. The "omg will they be ok!?" attitude is a little much, imo.
    Yeah for that I totally agree.  

    I will say that it can feel like there's a lot of pressure on parents so I cut this person slack especially as someone with a kid the same age as this LW.  You want to avoid a situation where the school year starts and they're still in the 'it's sunny and warm and so is the water' when the school year starts.   So if she knows the disposition of the kid I can absolutely empathize with the trepidation and fear of a kid starting off that period that is both for youth but also preparing for college or a career.  It's absolutely drilled into us about how much the students lost while not being in school 4 years ago and how far behind they are.  So I want to cut the mom slack about trying to let the kid be a kid while also maintaining some good habits.

     
  • mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
    First Anniversary First Answer 5 Love Its First Comment
    edited February 22
    I understand what you're saying @banana468, but I also think our education system being only for/serving kids that are on a college track is bullshit.  Also, studying/homework/maintaining grades does prepare you for college, trade school, or going to work because it is a form of maintaining a metric and meeting or exceeding expectations. 

    I am admittedly prickly about this being someone who didn't go to college (even though I was in some honors classes and did get accepted to a couple of schools), and also has kids who have not been served well by the structure of American schooling due to having dyslexia and ADHD concerns. 

    DefConn fully intends on going to trade school because that is where his interests lie.  I would love for the kiddo to eye trade school or some sort of continuing education, but he's done a great job keeping steady employment and has been promoted at his current job and is about to take an asst. management role at a new job. 

    I feel kids are overscheduled, overstimulated, and definitely do not get enough rest or relaxation that allows for creativity and/or developing an interest that doesn't have to be commodified or fit into an activity or lesson to further develop it and them. 

    And it's ONE summer.  If they can't stick to a schedule or whatever parameters LW lands on with them, then it's back to camp or whatever next year. 
  • mrsconn23 said:
    I understand what you're saying @banana468, but I also think our education system being only for/serving kids that are on a college track is bullshit.  Also, studying/homework/maintaining grades does prepare you for college, trade school, or going to work because it is a form of maintaining a metric and meeting or exceeding expectations. 

    I am admittedly prickly about this being someone who didn't go to college (even though I was in some honors classes and did get accepted to a couple of schools), and also has kids who have not been served well by the structure of American schooling due to having dyslexia and ADHD concerns. 

    DefConn fully intends on going to trade school because that is where his interests lie.  I would love for the kiddo to eye trade school or some sort of continuing education, but he's done a great job keeping steady employment and has been promoted at his current job and is about to take an asst. management role at a new job. 

    I feel kids are overscheduled, overstimulated, and definitely do not get enough rest or relaxation that allows for creativity and/or developing an interest that doesn't have to be commodified or fit into an activity or lesson to further develop it and them. 

    And it's ONE summer.  If they can't stick to a schedule or whatever parameters LW lands on with them, then it's back to camp or whatever next year. 
    I agree - I think this is honestly a to each their own situation.

    In mine they'd be screened out until I can load up and go to the marina pool or out on the boat.  And the great thing about the younger kid camps is that they're basically just outdoor play.  

    But your mileage can vary and kids' needs can vary too.  
  • ei34ei34 member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    Tough one. There are major benefits to open, unstructured time for kids, but they also can’t just sit in front of screens all day for two straight months. I agree with the suggestion to book a few weeks of camp here and there, and leave some time for downtime in between.  LW could also establish screen time limits - if the kids got, say, 30 or 60 minutes of handheld time plus an hour of tv time per day (or whatever amount, that’s an example), the sons might actually want to do more. 


    My area has tons of teacher moms, summers are easy for us bc the kids can attend enrichment camp in the morning, then straight to the town pool from 12-4ish and by the time we get home I’m fine with some tv or Nintendo switch while I make dinner. My middle sister is in a slightly more affluent area where the moms have more lucrative jobs (engineers, etc) which means they work year round but also means they all have nannies, who can do the same with the kids ^ my nieces and nephew are 4, 6, and 8 so it’s working, but she dreads the day they’re like 9, 11, and 13 and she can’t justify her nanny anymore but also doesn’t want them unsupervised. It’s not easy being a work-year-round parent (aka most parents) and having to think about summer while it’s still winter. Truly sending my sympathies to LW and all of you hard-working ladies! 
  • LW is hooked in to the years of camp marketing!  To answer the question, some of these camps go a month or the entire length of summer, not just a few days.  

    The kids are pointing out they need that break and there is that point of "having a summer while the kids are young!".  Set the ground rules for home so they're contributing to the overall living environment and not "stuck on screens all day"...  Each day they have to find an activity to do from Youtube to learn some thing (paint a picture, science behind StarLink, build a pop can solar vehicle, fix something in the house, grow a container garden, cook meals from scratch, etc.) - for what LW'd spend sending these kids to camp, there's a budget to do some of these types of things with money left over at the end!
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