Childcare Summer Blues

I'm in shock -- the final day at my four-year-old's preschool was Friday. My older kids get out for the summer in less than a week. My carefully orchestrated camp schedule doesn't start until mid-June. How am I going to get time to work until then?

There are few more stark dividers of working vs. at-home moms than how we feel about summer. The stay-at-home moms at my kids' schools, wearing cut-off shorts and pretty summer dresses, cluster in groups talking about the local public pool hours, weeks at the beach, lazy summer mornings with the whole family (albeit minus dad) in pajamas until 11 a.m. Or at least lots of time with their kids, even if it's spent folding laundry and running errands. A perk of stay-at-home motherhood that I envy most is that summer still means...summer.

My working mom friends have stunned looks on their faces and sweat dripping down their cheeks as their pantyhose threaten to asphixiate them in the sudden summer humidity. Their concerns are availability of full-day summer camps with aftercare programs, a niece who is joining them for a summer of kid-care once her school gets out, the chances that they and their husbands can coordinate a few vacation days into something resembling a vacation. For working moms, summer no longer conjures dreams of watermelon and 4th of July picnics; instead summer means a frenetic scramble of temporary childcare situations and attempts to cram eight hours of work into seven so we can make the camp's 4 p.m. pickup. Plus a razor edge of guilt: not only do our jobs deprive our children of their mothers, but also of the simple, slip-and-slide pleasures of a seemingly endless summer spent outdoors.

"More affordable, quality childcare" has long been a legitimate rallying cry of working moms and our advocates. But as all working moms, particularly those in urban settings, know, there is a dire shortage of affordable, fun, outdoor summer programs for young kids whose parents work from June to September.

I have two friends who send their young sons (4 and 9) to grandma for the entire summer. Although cheaper than 12 weeks of camp, it's an extreme solution, with the psychic pricetag of not seeing mom for three months. I have far more working mom friends whose children spend the entire summer in YMCA gyms, playing a little basketball and Checkers and watching a lot of movies.

No -- losing summer isn't the worst hardship facing children today. But it seems like saving these few weeks of innocence should be as simple and easy as turning on a sprinkler.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  June 1, 2006; 8:33 AM ET
Previous: Couric, Vargas, Us? We're No Different | Next: Friday Free-for-All -- 19 Years "Wasted"

Add On Balance to Your Site
Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
Get This Widget >>


Please email us to report offensive comments.

In some ways, I'm rather lucky in this regard; when I was first looking for a daycare program, I found a wonderful woman who runs a licensed daycare center in her home so there's never a problem of shutting down for the summer. My son gets to romp around in the sunshine with his friends, doing the things that little kids like to do and post-5 PM, I get to hear all about his day to the accompaniment of his splashing in the kiddie pool with the neighborhood munchkins.

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | June 1, 2006 9:03 AM

This is probably the main reason I don't work full-time. I just couldn't face having to put them in daycare all summer long. And we don't have any family nearby so it would be daycare if I worked.

That and the fact that with 3 kids, summer camps and so forth are really too expensive to use as daycare all summer long. I worked full-time one summer and we hired a college student and it was a horrible experience. My kids still bring it up from time to time.

I always try to remember how lucky I am on those summer days at the pool -- time passes so quickly, and those summers actually help make up a lot for the rotten jobs and substandard wages and various strange work situations I have cobbled together for myself in the last couple of years.

I have a friend who sends her kids away every summer to the grandparents and I've actually considered asking if I can watch her kids all summer for her -- just so she doesn't have to do that. I wonder what her kids will say about it later when they're older, and how it will affect their feelings about careers . . .

Posted by: Another Mom | June 1, 2006 9:11 AM

I too was lucky in this regard with a wonderful at home daycare provider. However kids get older and now both my kids are in school. My 4 and 6 year old will not have the same summers I enjoyed as a kid. But many choices I make are different from the choices my parents made.

I agree that it is extremely difficult to find a summer camp for 4 year olds that offers any type of after care. This summer I am lucky in that schedules work out so that I only have to scramble to fill two weeks and two days. For the two days after school lets out but before summer camp, I am hoping my previous daycare provider is available (I am setting up our "gap" care this week since our schools don't let out for two more weeks.) If not, my husband and I will alternate the days off. For the two weeks after summer camp ends and school begins, we again will hope that our previous daycare provider is available for one week and we will take our family vacation in the last week. I do feel at times that my kids miss out on lazy days of summer. But then I hear about all the fun they are having at summer camp, the trips to the pool, the field trips to splash parks, etc. And I remember that the choices I make with my family are the choices that are best for us. And so far, it's working for us. I do wish there were more camp options though. Great topic!

Posted by: Soleil | June 1, 2006 9:17 AM

I'm fortunate too, in that our daycare offers a summer program that my two children only need for 4 weeks. They attend a modified calendar elementary school in Fairfax County so they start school July 31. Their summer break is about 5 weeks and we're gone for one of them.

The downside of having a built-in summer program is that the tuition increases sharply, even though I get a 10% discount for my younger child.

My big problem is going to come in a couple of years, when my oldest child starts 7th grade and can no longer attend our daycare. Then I'll have to find something for the summer months.

Posted by: Corinne | June 1, 2006 9:17 AM

What's up with the first post?

Posted by: June | June 1, 2006 9:22 AM

It is also possible to whistfully look back at our youthful summers with rose-colored glasses. When I grew up, a lot of moms of elementary aged kids did work, and there were practically no camps available. Kids were largely unsupervised and bored. I cringe when I remember that dangerous things that I saw other kids do.
My daughter goes to a slew of daycamps. They don't watch movies and play checkers. Yes, it is expensive. But, she goes to the pool with the camp three days a week, goes canoeing, plays tennis, does art projects and has a lot of fun. I take her to the pool on the weekend. So, I don't really feel that she is missing out too much. The lazy summers that many remember really were just a blip. Kids used to work on farms or even in factories over the summer. Overall, I don't think that today's kids have it all that bad. Sure, I would love a job with summer hours and have relaxed, unstructured time with her. Who wouldn't? But, I don't see it as some big problem that someone else has to solve for me.

Posted by: wls | June 1, 2006 9:22 AM

I was one of the kids sent to grandma's for the summer. It wasn't a bad deal at all. I was able to spend much more time with my grandmother and the cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. on that side of the family who were too far away to see often. I'm glad I did, as my nana died when I was a teenager. I wouldn't have been able to know her nearly as well without those long summers up north.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 9:45 AM

I never had a problem with summer care. My kids went to a daycare center after school and then the daycare had a summer camp type program that included extended days. When they were a little older ( I have two children) I hired a college student for the summer and she took them to the pool. etc.

Posted by: marion10 | June 1, 2006 9:49 AM

I also am a working mother, and I don't see summer as such a stressful time. My son is enrolled in three daycamps, each with different themes, this summer. One is sports camp, the other is science oriented, and the third one is a mish mash of activities. I just come to work early so that I can get out early to pick him up, and my husband takes him to camp and works later hours. I really find the summer to be more relaxing and fun all around. No homework, the days are longer, and my son has a blast a camp. We spend weekend afternoons at the pool and we cook out a couple nights a week. We also spend two weeks at the beach in August. I love summer and the fact that there are so many camps available makes my life easier. Also, my son would be bored to tears just sitting at home.

Posted by: rockville | June 1, 2006 10:00 AM

I have a question:

When did you start sending your kids to camp? I'm not sure what the best age is to start. Thanks for any responses.

Posted by: vj | June 1, 2006 10:03 AM

Another mom's experiences with a college kid are not illustrative of all experiences. My mother was a single mom and had to work. We had a college girl take care of us during hte summer and in the evening during the school year. It was a great experience. She was studying some kind of child development and was great (even if we never got away with not following the rules when she was around - which I suppose is something a parent would want ;-) )

I was glad not to be in day care or camps all summer and got to just hang around with my friends.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 10:04 AM

People talk about that like it's a bad thing--I loved spending summers with my grandma and grandpa! I don't think there's anything wrong with it, as long as grandma and grandpa are okay with it--they get to know their extended family, explore a new place, etc. My mom and dad have a pool and place on the river, and I hope they'll take my kids for the summers--the kids will have a fantastic time!

Posted by: Summers with grandma rock! | June 1, 2006 10:04 AM

To VJ -

I started going to sleep away camp at age 7 and did it until my teens and loved every minute of it. The key is to find a camp your child is interested in. My brother went to one that centered on water sports (skiing, hard core swimming, etc). I went to that camp one year and hated it, so went back to the camp I liked which focused on horseriding, swimming, crafts, etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 10:07 AM

Why don't you use all the money you are making, that stay-at-home moms are not making, and hire a high school senior, or a college kid to make your kids life fun? It seems you expect the government to entertain your children over the summer. Is there anything that is your responsibility? Stay-at-home mom's don't sweat? They have not sacrificed to be with their children? You would give the job of keeping your children occupied to someone else as a "job", yet your disdain for stay-at-home moms is apparent and silly. If it makes you feel better to imagine that stay-at-home moms sit around in pajamas all day, then continue your ignorant and childish attacks. I read your column as an example of bitterness and entitlement. I imagine your children are probably much better off not around you for a good part of the day.

Posted by: Karen | June 1, 2006 10:22 AM

The YMCA is not such a bad thing. My son has a blast there. They go on lots of field trip, swimming several days a week lots of outdoor playtime. They have various theme weeks, do arts and crafts, etc. He loves school but says camp is his favorite. He sees his old friends there very summer. They have before and after care and the schedule is coordinated to fit exactly with school vacation.

Not so bad, I think.

Posted by: csherr | June 1, 2006 10:36 AM

This is where I was very fortunate that the chosen career for both of my parents was teaching -- they got the summer off along with the rest of us. Now it's also true that they did not get paid during that time, so it was a financial sacrifice, but we were glad to have that time as a family to be able to just be together.

(Seriously, anybody that thinks teachers get paid summers off is dead wrong. My parents got paid for 9 months of work, not 12, and if they choose to have that paid out over the full 12 months, it just means smaller paychecks, not more money.)

But I would never question what other mothers are doing or have done in this regard. Nasty cracks against the woman who writes this blog just show your own bitterness, not what you perceive as hers, IMHO.

Posted by: mharvey816 | June 1, 2006 10:37 AM

Yes the summer issue! I had no problems up until last summer when my older turned 7 -- our county has a very good, reasonably priced summer camp for 6 weeks, my son goes to a friend's house for a week after school ends, goes to my sister's for a week, then day camp for 6 weeks, then I take 2 weeks off, and I just have 1 week I need to fill. My little one goes to his regular daycare for the summer and they will take the older one if we get into a bind. I do miss the hanging out in the summers but what can one do when one works? My son is occupied for the entire summer in one capacity or another.

Would suggest to the moms that send their kids to grandma's and aren't happy about that -- if you have a neighbor or two that stays home who would be willing to host for a week here and there look into that -- also if your county has programs or community college (they have great programs in our area) think about that too. My biggest worry is when my son gets to that age where he is getting too old for "day care" how to occupy his time. I don't want to just leave him alone all day during the summer. Would be interested in hearing from those of you who work full time and have kids who are getting ready for middle school how you handle this! I'm scared!

Posted by: typical working mother | June 1, 2006 10:47 AM

We're lucky that with an every-other-week custody schedule, my partner can work every other week (the weeks we're childless) and we have her for childcare full time when we do have custody. And, blessedly, the child has two week long camps (a science camp and a church camp) and four sets of grandparents to see, so we keep busy all summer. Now if _I_ could just get to do some of the fun stuff with them, I'd be happy!

Posted by: Rebecca | June 1, 2006 10:50 AM

Whoa -- Karen, it seems like you're the one with a little bitterness. I read the column a little differently.

My mom was a working mom, but she was a school teacher. That meant that she had summers off along with the rest of us, and we had plenty of lazy days in which we got to enjoy the pleasure of sleeping late and planning our days as we wanted and attending half-day summer camps. I don't see how it could be interpreted as bitter for Leslie to point out that getting to stay home with your children has many benefits and that being a working mom has some difficulties.

And assuming that working moms have lots of money to hire extra childcare is a really big assumption.

Using words like "disdain" and "silly," and your other judgemental comments (such as assuming that Leslie is proposing that the government become responsibile for summertime childcare) reveals more about your own attitudes than Leslie's.

mharvey816 -- your comments are spot-on. I was the child of a teacher, and I am a former teacher; teaching is rewarding but pays next to nothing. When I figured out how many hours I was working each week, I realized that I was earning about minimum wage and decided to change careers.

Posted by: TwinMom | June 1, 2006 10:51 AM

Provided the grandparents are up for it, spending the summer with them is a wonderful option. I can't imagine why people are knocking it. It allows children to develop an inpendent relationship with their extended family -- something they will treasure years from now. Not to mention, it's just actually fun. Heck, I knew people growing up who did that AND the mom stayed out home.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 10:59 AM

my son goes to a great summer camp that has a program all summer long all day long. they do some really fun activities. i get envious when i drop him off and see what is slated for the day - dodgeball, kickball, arts & crafts, pony rides. i wish i could go to his camp.

yeah, i have to second that i didn't read the blog as bitter - wistful and slightly envious maybe but not bitter.

my father went to his grandfather's farm every summer when he was a kid along with his cousins. maybe it did have some tramatic effect on him but i also know that he was very close to all of his cousins. he told me once he could close his eyes and still hear his grandfather's brogue and his girl cousins' laughter at their grandfather's jokes. not a bad memory at all.

Posted by: quark | June 1, 2006 11:04 AM

I spent my summers growing up running around the neighborhood with my friends. My mother would yell when it was time for lunch and often didn't know that we were in the creek, in the woods, on the railroad tracks (yikes), if she did, I would have got my ass beat real bad.

I often think about how my daughers life will be different than mine, I feel bad thinking that she may miss some of the fun stuff I did over the summer. However, the world is not the same here in the city and I think that I will feel much better if she is in a supervised day camp then I would if she ran around like I did.

I geuss you can't have your cake and eat it too.

And Karen, Leslie was so not advocating for government daycare during the summer, nor was she putting down stay at home mothers.

Posted by: scarry | June 1, 2006 11:12 AM

typical working mother brings up a good point. Many working parents take a week or two off during the summer to hang out at home with their kids. If neighbors (or friends parents) coordinated, then those parents could take turns. I have a week of here and have fun with my child and her friends, her friends' parents each take a week. It could be fun.

But a lot of SAHPs get irritated at taking care of their working parent neighbors' children without a quid pro quo (some dont, but some do feel taken advantage of)

Posted by: Just me | June 1, 2006 11:12 AM

Here's one more endorsement for time w/ Grandma and Grandpa. Lots of things matter--for starters, the age, health, and interest of the grandparents--but the shorter stays w/ grandparents that I had as a kid were absolutely great. And my grandparents weren't cool, "with it" types. They were old people. But they let us do things that my busy parents didn't have time for. I did my first cooking (jello!) during a stay w/ my grandparents while my parents went on a brief vacation. Obviously, I still remember learning to do something on my own, and, although I'm sure we'd have gotten around to it eventually, my mom hadn't taken time to let me learn to cook at home. She was too busy to put up w/ the speed at which kids move.

Posted by: THS | June 1, 2006 11:14 AM

"I have a friend who sends her kids away every summer to the grandparents and I've actually considered asking if I can watch her kids all summer for her -- just so she doesn't have to do that. I wonder what her kids will say about it later when they're older, and how it will affect their feelings about careers . . ."

Maybe the kids like seeing their family? You post makes it seem like you feel sorry for her and her kids. I loved my grandparents and enjoyed every moment spent with them.

Why would this affect their feelings about careers?

Posted by: scarry | June 1, 2006 11:19 AM

I agree so completely with your column. I also ask that folks consider mothers (and fathers) of children with special needs. Everything you said is multiplied ten-fold - from finding daycare to convincing the summercamp that you DID find to accept your kid with Autism (or Cerebral Palsy or Down Syndrome). Even as we talk about caring about children, we so often don't put actions to our words. Please remember that children with special needs are first and foremost, children. Their parents handle the balancing act you mention, with even more issues needing attention, to have even the shortest of summer vacations.

Peace, Sabra Townsend

Posted by: Sabra Townsend | June 1, 2006 11:19 AM

I am lucky that the pre-school run by a highly regarded but not-as-expensive-as-most-would-think private Christian school in the Chicago suburbs runs a summer camp. They also provide childcare in between camp and school and childcare before camp starts and after it ends each day which is included in the price. They get to go on field trips and play and do some learning. This is the first time I have had to deal with summer care for my 5 year old but feel really blessed for this resource.

Financially we cannot afford for me to not work since my husband just finished his degree and we had some medical problems and loss of his job before him going back to school. But I would love to have summers like I did as a kid without the chores my mother loved to dole out starting at about 7am every morning. Maybe in a few years.

Posted by: Dlyn | June 1, 2006 11:21 AM

I just scanned the comments (because I am at work and should be working), but noticed a few people mentioned all-day camps. If any of you are from Fairfax County, I'd appreciate the name of some good camps that are open at least from 8:00to 5:00. Seems like most close at 3:30, which doesn't work well if you have a one-hour commute. We have arrangements for this summer, but I am not particularly happy about them and would like some alternatives for next summer.

Give me a break, Karen. If we had all the money to get fancy day care for our kids, some of us wouldn't be working in the first place. I work because my husband doesn't think we can get by on just his salary (though I disagree and it's been a constant source of tension). Leslie's comments were right-on. I've gotten over the guilt of working year-round now that my kids are in school anyway - I might as well be productive and help make some income while they're not at home. But there's still the feeling that they are missing out on summer. And I'm not in the financial position where I can quit and give it to them, despite your assumption that all women who work have a choice.

Posted by: mom of schoolage kids | June 1, 2006 11:29 AM

I personally love having my niece come to stay with me over the summer, even now that she's old enough that she doesn't need supervision. Her parents get a break, and I get to spend time with one of my favorite people. We've been doing this for ten years or more.

Posted by: The extended family | June 1, 2006 11:32 AM

To the Extended Family.

Sounds like fun. I wish I could do that for members of my family.

Posted by: Dlyn | June 1, 2006 11:34 AM

I think the idea of sending a kid off to the grandparents is an AWESOME idea.

It means the kid is old enough to be on their own, they can learn independence and life away from the parent umbrella. It's THREE MONTHS of living with their grandparents which gives them a great time to connect and enjoy eachother.

And it gives you a 3 months vacation to be a happy adult and stay out late for awhile.

And no cost except travel expenses!

I really don't see the downside or why someone wouldn't take this option if they had it.

Posted by: Liz | June 1, 2006 11:36 AM


Honestly, I don't normally complain about Leslie's posts, but come on. I stay home, but don't have a lot of income, which means that we have two long months wondering what to do with my daughter. This summer will be filled with a slew of 'mom, I'm boreds' and 'mom I don't want to go out it's too hot.' Yes, we'll have a small kiddie pool out back, yes occasionally we'll go to the park and pool, but realistically, we're all going to be out of our minds by mid-July. I don't have a lot of disposable income to just blow off a week here or there, and I've got three classes this semester.
I'm actually trying to work with my sister and bro-in-laws work schedules so I can give us all a change of scenery and visit them for a week, and leave my eldest there for another week.

I am lucky our city has a great community center with tons of summer programs, but I can't just take her to the pool every day, I can't afford to dump her in a program every week. Etc. etc.

Saying that, I do understand the REAL issue working moms have, and that is, what to do with the over-12 year old's who suddenly have no school. When I was working, my daughter's daycare did summer-camp trips, which were great. The Y has summer camp programs, and many school systems also have summer-camp programs that are a lot of fun and usually involve a field trip at least once a week. Also, there are karate daycamps, gymnastics day camps, 4-h programs, and so on and so forth. The trick is to sign em up early! Most of the camps keep 'working parent' hours. So check out the schools, the Y, the community centers, et al.

Now, to be honest, there is one thing that I can do as a stay at home mom that most working moms can't. Occasionally, I can say screw it, leave the cheerios and fruit juice stuck to the table and floor, and take off for the pool and ice cream, but Leslie, at your income bracket, your work schedule, and those of other women with higher-incomes and more flexible hours, you can do that too, AND you can go somewhere nicer, so the sort of snide 'sahm's have it so good during the summer' comments were a bit overdone.

The ones who really suffer over the summer are the working moms without the high pays and the flexible hours. I think there should be an automatic separation when you are talking about the woes of working moms between the working moms with the higher incomes nad hte more flexible hours and the rest of the working 9-5 moms who have to show up every day, put in their hours, and can't just sneak off occasionally.

Pajamas til 11 a.m. Puh-leeze!

Posted by: Observer | June 1, 2006 11:40 AM

Mom of school age kid:

The Y in Dulles, I think has a program. Also, try googling it, summer camps, fairfax etc. It's been a while since I looked, but I remember seeing a bunch of them that had pick up times at 6:30. Also, try the school system, sometimes they offer programs through the community centers, AND try the community centers.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 11:43 AM

Observer -

not all moms at higher incomes have more flexible hours. Some do, but not all. Many don't have 9-5 jobs, but 9-8 jobs, etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 11:51 AM

Yes, and those moms don't have the option to sneak out and take off for the lake, need to stress about finding daycare never mind 'fun daycare' and can barely afford it in some cases.

I was trying to point out how there are two different classes of working moms, and the class that Leslie is in, with the 'work at home' luxury and the 'set own hours' luxury cna't really complain about summer, because she has the income to solve all her daycare problems and the flexibility to change her hours... for all we know she wrote this in her pajamas...

sorry if that didn't come across.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 11:59 AM

In Leslie's defense, I don't know how much she makes, but obviously, she's trying to write the blog with different income brackets in mind. I don't think it would go over well for her to write, if you make this much money do this, and if this is your income, do this. But anyways, back to childcare: I think the grandparent idea is great. My parents live in the country, have a lake, and A LOT of patience. They love having my son over and he loves riding around in grandpa's pickup truck and playing at the pond. Also, since my parents have the same values as I do, I don't worry about what he's being exposed to.

Posted by: N in DC | June 1, 2006 12:09 PM

Ya know, these days Grandma has a career, too.

Posted by: Gran | June 1, 2006 12:11 PM

I wonder too about the assumptions people make about Leslie's life. I know enough about the way the world works to know that she is not poor, but, really, has she ever said what her work requires? I don't think so. Flexibility often comes w/ unpredictable demands. And unpredictable events are the death of most childcare arrangements.

Plus, she has three kids. Very likely, that means at least two sets of arrangements and, depending on their ages, possibly three. Certainly life is easier if you have resources that you can use to solve problems, but we are equal in terms of the most precious resource---time.

Posted by: THS | June 1, 2006 12:13 PM

The stay-at-home moms at my kids' schools, wearing cut-off shorts and pretty summer dresses, cluster in groups talking about the local public pool hours, weeks at the beach, lazy summer mornings with the whole family (albeit minus dad) in pajamas until 11 a.m.

I think we all, sahm's included, would like pretty summer dresses, weeks at the beach and lazy summer mornings.

I think the reality is not quite as dreamy for the majority of moms, working or sahm. I will say, when summer hits, I suddenly wish I lived in the country, on a lake, or somewhere, well, with less concrete.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 12:14 PM

My mother always told me to marry a teacher. Then I wouldn't have to worry about this problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 12:15 PM

My mom told me to be a teacher so I wouldn't have to worry about this problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 12:21 PM

I think we should take the Childcare out of the headline and just say Summer Blues. It would be so nice for everyone to enjoy the summer no matter what income bracket. What a dream!

Posted by: Dlyn | June 1, 2006 12:21 PM

I do agree with observer's points about different income levels. The pool was a luxury for me as a kid and we never went on vacation. Unless you count going to grandma's house.

And like I pointed out before it's not safe in the day and age to just let kids "run" like I did growing up.

Observer, I feel for you, the i'm bored whinning from my nieces and newphews used to drive me batty in the summer. I had to make stuff up for them to do and we played a lot of kick the can and hide and go seek.

Posted by: scarry | June 1, 2006 12:22 PM

go to the library. it's free. you can access the Faifax library website and reserve the latest books. great for teens!
put those 12 and 13 year olds in a counselor training program. automatic job when they turn 14.

Posted by: experienced mom | June 1, 2006 12:26 PM

Regarding daycare and camps in Fairfax County: found a link for you! And thank you to those who gave great suggestions for middle schoolers. I still have 3 years but am already starting to think about it.
Click on to the Partakes Class Catalogues for extended care -- in the county where I live the camp that my son is going to goes from 8-2;30pm but then for a little extra he stays there until 5:30 -- it looks like a lot of the elementary schools there do the same thing -- the site looks like a great resource for someone like you! Hope this helps.

Posted by: typical working mother | June 1, 2006 12:31 PM

I often think that the issue is less working mom versus stay at home mom, and more type A mom versus type B mom. I think Leslie, no offense intended, is probably type A. She take it all on. She went to ivy league schools, has the glamorous and demanding career, three kids, and all the responsibilities and challenges that come with the career and three kid family. She is a busy and ambitious person, and like it or not, lazy summers don't fit so easily into that lifestyle. I can see how being this busy can make one fantasize about the life of a SAHM. But I also know SAHMs who are just as type A about their lifestyles. Kids involved in every activity under the sun, volunteer work, housework, errands, chores, etc. They don't have many lazy moments either. And I know working moms who are very laid back and schedule in their lazy moments because they need them.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 12:31 PM

Leslie, thanks for the topic today, it came right on time. I'll remind my wife to coordinate with her Mom friends to sign the young-uns up for a series of Vacation Bible School sessions. They cost hardly anything, usually free, provide a great sorce of socialization for the kids, and the best part, it gets the wife and kids out of bed before noon. What a life!

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 1, 2006 12:34 PM

type A vs. type B! I think you've solved everything!! You are so right. So can we just live and let live?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 12:35 PM

My mom worked when I was little and I remember some summers when she was a full-time secretary. They're not pleasant memories. One summer I spent with a babysitter and her three kids. Her eldest daughter was nice to me, but wasn't always around. Her son yelled at me one day for letting his turtle out when it was his little sister who did it. Most days I spent in the basement family room with its dark wood panelling. Ugh. I wished that I could spend lazy summer days at home. Then my mom became a school crossing guard when I was 8. I don't remember my summers much after that, but at least I don't have any bad memories!

I have children of my own now and I work part-time (3/4). My son is now a teenager so he can watch his younger sister occasionally. But before that, I would enroll them in several different camps so they would have a variety of fun things to do. The camps were (and still are) usually from about 9 AM to 3-4 PM. I've found the community colleges always have good camps and the county recreation departments sometimes offer good full-day camps, as well. Luckily this summer, I will be working from home most of the time, so my children's summer isn't as booked up as summers' past, but it does get boring just hanging out around the house while I work. So my daughter will still be going to 4 weeks of science camps at Montgomery College because she really likes them, plus a week of golf camp. Then we'll be spending a week-and-a-half at Disney World and also spending some long weekends camping at the beaches.

As for finding full-day camps from about 8 AM to 5 PM, it's hard. Urbana Riding Club in Frederick County (MD) matches those hours, but I haven't come across too many others.

Posted by: Kim | June 1, 2006 12:45 PM

the thing that makes me sad is that if you dont schedule the kids, tehy will usually sit around and watch tv and tell you they were bored. Sure, it was safer when we were kids, but I still found ways to entertain myself around the house without watching TV or getting really bored.

Our society is killing creativity and producing a batch of children who need to be scheduled to keep from being bored.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 12:52 PM

The high cost of summer camps and after care is one of the main reasons why I work full-time rather than part-time. I would much rather work part-time, but I tried that and during the summers, I spent more on childcare than I could earn.

Posted by: workin' mom | June 1, 2006 12:53 PM

I meant to add something! It is definitely hard to find camps for middle school kids, but my son has been going to the Virginia Space Flight Academy for the past 3 years now and loves it. At least it's one week taken care of:

Also, there are volunteer opportunities children of that age can do. I was a candy striper at Arlington Hospital the summers that I was 13, 14, & 15.

Posted by: Kim | June 1, 2006 12:53 PM

I think the scheduling isn't to keep them from being bored, I think the scheduling is to ensure they are supervised.

We can't let our kids run out and play outside all day, it's just not safe anymore. So we need them to be supervised. For the working moms, that means scheduling activities. For the sahm's who schedule some activities, it's to give them something a little different to do during the day then run under the sprinkler or draw sidewalk art.

Posted by: Observer | June 1, 2006 12:55 PM

turn off the tv! they will whine, but then they will find something to do. teach them what to do, then step back and let them go with it. my kids have drawing contests. they cook and make a huge mess. then they have to clean it up. they fold laundry. clean bathrooms. play card and board games. READ!! turn off the tv!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 12:55 PM

yes, but I was talking about the SAHM who said her kids would be bored within a month or so. I understand that kids can't really just run around and htat working moms have to schedule for their kids to be supervised, but it seems like this generation of children have lost hte ability to entertain themselves. I was almost never bored in the summer and was not scheduled or allowed to run around without an adult around. We just played at each other's houses, read, etc and kept ourselves occupied.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 12:57 PM

To the mom wondering about appropriate age for young campers: I haven't read all the posts today, so sorry if this is redundant... The Washington Post ran an article and discussion with a camp expert sometime in the last couple of months regarding this. Both his professional opinion and experiences of others on the discussion might be very helpful. Perhaps you can search the Post's archives or Leslie could have the link posted. Good luck!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 12:57 PM

Karen wrote, "Why don't you use all the money you are making, that stay-at-home moms are not making, and hire a high school senior, or a college kid to make your kids life fun? It seems you expect the government to entertain your children over the summer. Is there anything that is your responsibility? Stay-at-home mom's don't sweat?"

I cut and paste only part of Karen's post, but I'm a SAHM and I did not read bitterness into Leslie's post, or even the idea that Leslie thinks the government is responsible for her children.

By the way, my husband used to be in the Navy, and military families have some great programs for families and children, including childcare. The military, one of the most conservative organizations you can imagine, is actually quite liberal in some ways.

In any case, I stay home, and I am relieved that this summer, my teen son has a job, and my daughter will do some fun things, but since expensive camps are out of the question, I'm trying to use my imagination.

And, yes, there are days I've spent my entire mornings in pj's and I'm not the greatest housekeeper either.

And, when I worked, I also took some long lunches and daydreamed at my desk. I wasn't a superior person then, and I'm not now.

It is what it is. I don't understand this great animosity toward working moms when they have to resolve a problem using the resources they have at their disposal. Are they never allowed to complain?

Just think, if your husband is ever disabled and needs to collect social security, working moms will make it possible!

We're all in this together!

Posted by: Kate | June 1, 2006 12:58 PM

Sorry to sidetrack a bit... Feel similar to mom of schoolage kids' situation: "I work because my husband doesn't think we can get by on just his salary (though I disagree and it's been a constant source of tension)." Has there ever been a discussion on this blog on wife/husband/partner disagreements over feasibility of living on one income? Would love to see hear about similar situations/resolutions.

Posted by: bif | June 1, 2006 1:03 PM

About living on one income: we did that when we had our first child and it wasn't easy. Then I found work I could do at home, a couple years doing data entry and then 4 years as a transcriptionist. By working at home, I could be with my children while contributing to the household income. Now I am a webmaster and work from home a lot. It's a shame more organizations don't allow telecommuting. It would make working parents lives so much easier. (And it gets cars off the road.) I think being a WAHM is the best of both worlds.

Posted by: Kim | June 1, 2006 1:14 PM

I'm one who has a middle schooler and an 8 year old. The middle schooler has done the summer camp thing for years but it gets harder as they get older. They don't necessarily want to be at a day camp all day; they want to hang around. Last year I had to listen to the constant whine of "Why do I have to go to camp? Why can't I stay home?" This year, he's going to boy scout camp for one week with his troop and another on his own, along with two weeks of day camp, vacation, etc.

We try to break it up between time at the grandparents, time at day camp, time on vacation, etc. This year has been harder juggling it all though. And I suspect that it may be the last year that my son wants to do day camp - I think they just get to the age when doing the structured day thing with swim time, etc. is no longer appealing.

At least I have one more year to try to figure that one out! And it's nice to know that I'm not alone in this struggle for summer activities. Thanks for all the postings.

Posted by: Park time working mom | June 1, 2006 1:19 PM

Kate - your thoughtful comment made my day. Thank you.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 1:19 PM

Kate, thanks for a great post, you said it well. Last summer I was a SAHM with a baby. We did stay in our PJs in the mornings and did go to the pool (and for those who seem to assume that going to the pool means you are rich, some towns have very affordable community pools. Ours was $15 per person for the whole summer.), and other days did more active things. But I got pretty bored pretty fast and was ready for my classes to start again in the fall. Summer is a conundrum for working moms, and I think it's only natural to feel like the grass is greener on the other side when you're faced with something like that.

Also, I do think it's very true that safety concerns have more to do with the demise of lazy summers than careers - when I was a kid, we lived in a semi-rural area and ran around unsupervised over prairies, built forts in irrigation ditches, rode our bikes to the 7-11 for slurpees etc, all without adult supervision. My mom and some of the other moms worked part-time, and I still have no idea what the arrangements were for watching us, I just remember running around in a pack with the other kids. My mom's very responsible, I'm sure there were arrangements, but my point is it was waaay less structured and organized than what I see today among SAHM or WOHM. Even though we live in a great neighborhood now, I cannot imagine letting my son have that much freedom when he's older, regardless of whether one of us is home or not.

Posted by: Megan | June 1, 2006 1:23 PM

Thanks for the suggestions!

Posted by: mom of schoolage kids | June 1, 2006 1:38 PM

At $100 per week per kid for the local Y program lots of kids are left out. Yes, there is "financial aid" if you are at the POVERTY level...if you are at AVERAGE income with two kids its a 2nd mortgage..... And, there is no "quite time" during the day--just shuffle from one activity to another. Pool day(s) and field trip day [same trips each summer] are the only "positives" My daughter was left to cry thru a migrane becuase the camp "leaders" "didn't know what they were supposed to do".......Rural areas are a nightmare for ANY daycare [no before/after even at public schools] Summer is a parent's worst nightmare.....

Posted by: theirmom | June 1, 2006 1:43 PM

$100 per week for the local Y program? My town's YMCA has camps that range 150-170 per week. Summer is far more expensive than the rest of the year, but luckily my kids love the camps I sign them up for. Not the YMCA, thankfully.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 2:00 PM

Thanks for the great comments and solutions and memories of summers past. And also, thanks for those of you who ran interference for me! Although I wasn't trying to be snide to SAHMs or to suggest that the government provide summer entertainment for all our children, it is true that I am kind of type A, that I am frustrated by how little support moms and children get from our government, and that I am also jealous of parts of the lives that SAHM's have -- or at least how their lives look at times from the outside! (And I imagine that at times, SAHMs are also jealous of some of the perqs that go along with working motherhood.)

Wish we could all have the best of both worlds -- flexibility, time with our kids, good childcare, and the ability to provide financially for ourselves and our families without having to go for 12 hours (or 12 weeks) without seeing our kids. Also want to make clear I meant no insult to local YMCA's, Checkers, basketball or movies -- all of which my family participates in at times. Just think there could and should be more choices for kids and parents in the summer and other times. Thanks.

Posted by: Leslie | June 1, 2006 2:02 PM

Yeah, Megan. I remember those summer days, catching frogs and snakes in the woods, riding bikes, catching fish for the family dinner, playing chicken on the train tracks, spontaneous wiffle ball games, and of course, the backyard tent with the guys that always ended up streaking around the neighborhood on a dare at 2:00 in the morning. We had 1 daylight rule: Be home when the street lights turned on, or at least let us know where you are.
Those days are gone. Nowadays, kids need to be driven to an adult supervised activity, paperwork, money, insurance card... And to make things worse, our society has come up with something called a "Code Red" day, which means that in order to be considered good parents, we have to keep our kids inside the air-conditioning. There seems to be a conspiracy to crank out the next generation to have the greatest number of lily-white pansies the world has ever known. Somehow, I think it has something to do with the TV.

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 1, 2006 2:05 PM

SAHMhood might look good for the two short months of summer vacation. I've always thought summer was a trade off for duty in the trenches of the neverending sickness of Jan and Feb, and the dullness of those days when it is dark out at 5pm!!

Posted by: experienced mom | June 1, 2006 2:18 PM

I have a middle schooler and 10 year old...and yes middle schoolers would rather not do camps all the time. I solved that by putting both kids in a theatre program that ends mid-day, and hiring a SAHM $$$ plus gas money to pick my kids up and bring them to the community pool we belong to, where I'll pick them up at the end of the day. They'll get their lazy summer at the pool, and some structure during the day.

Posted by: Maryland Working Mom | June 1, 2006 2:31 PM

Sorry so long...

Summertime and the livin' is easy.

Both my parents were lawyers, and I was the only kid who's mom had a career. I was also probably the first infant to crawl the sacred halls of a fat cat NY/DC/Paris law firm when the home care front had a short circuit. Mom's a Georgetown Law grad and started in DC office of that firm. Let me tell you, winning an argument at my dinner table was tough. Looking back, I guess I am bitter about a few things, but the one thing that really stuck in my craw was that my parents would take a week of vacation in the summer when I was little and my brother and I wouldn't get to go.

In that generation my parents just weren't engaged with my brother and me - and they both commuted to the city by train for the duration of our childhood. We weren't seen and not heard, but close. I remember them never being there, way too much TV time for me. I can recite Star Trek verbatim. When I had seen every rerun ad nauseam I went over to books, music and riding my bike everywhere. In hindsight their absence made me very independent. I did get to go to summer camp for two years (9 and 10) and needless to say I wasn't homesick - and I didn't write a lot of letters home. My brother had a tough time at camp. The hazing and wedgies weren't fun - counselors didn't do their job in his case. I was lucky and avoided that B.S. The pre-camp years were lazy, the post camp years my mom was around since she quit the NY firm and our income wasn't as high. But no complaint about that change from me - My mom changed her job from commuting to the city to having an in-town legal practice and she drove us to and from a junior sailing program every day in the summer and was around for homework. She called herself a glorified chauffeur, did the laundry and made the bag lunches. I think she was bored out of her mind. My dad rode her hard about the fact she felt she was free to quit her job while he still had to commute into the %$#& city. Oh - and she didn't do my laundry for long - since I wouldn't put my clothes away she just stopped doing my wash. I had to do it myself from the age of 12. It was all this weird grey color - makes me laugh now - was good at laundry eventually tho.

When I turned 15 my dad retired and the whole world changed. Imagine I had both my parents when I was a teenager - hahaaha - the exact time I didn't want them around AT ALL! Now I look back and think it was for the best. The time that my parents were around was far better than the time it was my brother and I and the nanny of the moment. They did the best they could with the choices that came along.

When I married and we were expecting our first my wife fully expected to return to work, and she did after our first was born. Then the opportunity arose for me to take a job overseas earning more than both our pay combined so we took the chance. In that location she was prohibited from working and we took that opportunity to have baby number two. When we returned to the states she considered starting her own freelancing business once the kids were in school full time but we instead decided we would rather have baby number three... that was three years ago. So, where was I ... yes: summers...

My wife is able to stay at home and manage the household and the troops. The last two years have been crazy with the youngest only now just three and full schedules for the older two. I even make it to school meetings, sporting events and recitals since I have made every career choice to keep my commute time as short as possible. We cant afford long term summer camps, but given my experience - and my brother's experience - I prefer we bring up the kids. We have sent my oldest for a week of sleep away camp and he'll go back again this year, but most of the summer is filled with partial day camps, the town pool the local golf course and our vacation - together.

You'd never guess that my mom and wife never got along. They just could never get on the same page - just like a lot of opposing perspectives on this blog.

Fish are jumpin' and the river is high.

(Anybody know the intervening lines?)

Hush little baby don't, you cry.

P.S. probably a separate topic but: Neighborhoods aren't safe for kids to roam anymore because the quality of society and its drivers has plummeted: nobody looks out for anybody but themselves once they get behind the wheel. Did you hear about the baby who was killed by a truck in CT? Father chasing the kid in walker rolling down the driveway and a truck (in 25mph zone) hit them both. Tragic. No town can build a sidewalk next to every road and a tunnel at every crosswalk. How can we let our kids even ride a bicycle to school when the roads are so dangerous?

Posted by: Father of 3 | June 1, 2006 2:36 PM

"They'll get their lazy summer at the pool, and some structure during the day."

Who are you referring to? Just kidding!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 2:39 PM

LOL! Thankd Fo4

"There seems to be a conspiracy to crank out the next generation to have the greatest number of lily-white pansies the world has ever known. Somehow, I think it has something to do with the TV."

We ban TV from Sunday PM to Friday PM - after the first couple days of static (no worse than the static when the previous 1hr allocation per diem was used up) all goes much better. If they cry "bored" we sick the 3yr old on them.

Posted by: Father of 3 | June 1, 2006 2:47 PM

"And to make things worse, our society has come up with something called a "Code Red" day, which means that in order to be considered good parents, we have to keep our kids inside the air-conditioning. There seems to be a conspiracy to crank out the next generation to have the greatest number of lily-white pansies the world has ever known. Somehow, I think it has something to do with the TV."

Not often, but every now and then, I really love Father of 4. Hahahahaha.

Posted by: cracking up | June 1, 2006 2:48 PM

Father of 3 - Just beause your experiences with your working parents and camps were bad, does not mean all working parents and camps are bad. I'm sorry about your childhood, but your description of your parents work lives could be mine and it wasnt bad. There was no hazing at camp. My parents came back refreshed after their alone vacation together and were even more attentive to us (and we got the added bonus of getting to spend quality time with our grandparents). Just because both my parents worked and I went to summer camp for 3 weeks in the summer does not mean my parents did not raise me.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 3:04 PM

Where were you that women are "prohibited from working?!?"

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 3:09 PM

"My working mom friends have stunned looks on their faces and sweat dripping down their cheeks as their pantyhose threaten to asphixiate them in the sudden summer humidity."

Augh! Pantyhose! Why, why, why do they exist except to torment women??

Posted by: Why? | June 1, 2006 3:12 PM

worse than panty hose is that sweaty feelig you get in your sandals. yuck.

Posted by: scarry | June 1, 2006 3:15 PM

Many places prohibit women from working - esp in the Middle east

Posted by: not father of 3 | June 1, 2006 3:18 PM

I know - I was wondering specifically where. I can't imagine being in a country where women can't work and thinking that would be a good place to give birth and raise an infant.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 3:19 PM

father of 3 did your wife go out much when you guys lived over there?

Posted by: scarry | June 1, 2006 3:28 PM

And if so, did she wear pantyhose?

Posted by: Megan | June 1, 2006 3:37 PM

I found this conversation interesting because I always assumed that if I could afford it I would send my kids to camp. (I don't have any yet but hope to soon) I can't even remember a time when I wasn't going to camp -- either day camp or sleep-away camp. My mom was a SAHM, but I know how happy she was to get us out the door for one month of the summer.
For the mom wanting to know about timing -- I believe I went to day camp starting in either kindergarten or 1st grade (but then everyone in my area did -- there wa s even a bus that went through my neighborhood) I started going away to sleep away camp the summer after third grade. I went for 4 weeks until I was 15, and then I went for 2 months. I loved it. I rebelled the summer before my freshman year of high school and said I wanted to stay home to hang out with my friends. I will always remember that summer as the most boring summer of my life.

Posted by: former camper | June 1, 2006 3:37 PM

hahahhah. That made me giggle

Posted by: scarry | June 1, 2006 3:38 PM

Does anyone else besides me (yes, I am paranoid) not like the idea of sending their kid off to camp?

Posted by: scarry | June 1, 2006 3:45 PM

Why wouldn't you like to send your kids to camp? It's a good idea to let them meet kids from other areas.

Posted by: LC | June 1, 2006 3:50 PM

My mom would not allow me to go to camp and I mean any kind of camp but I was allowed to run around our rural neighborhood and ride my bike 3 miles to the pool all by MYSELF at the age of 10. Then we found out we had a rapist in the neighborhood when I was in junior high. I went to the pool a lot less then but was finally allowed to be a camp counselor at least in high school. I was never allowed to stay over at anyone's house either until high school.

Posted by: Dlyn | June 1, 2006 3:50 PM

I just don't like the idea of them being around pools, lakes, etc, without my supervision. I also am paraniod that the camp counselors don't watch them closely enough. My daughter's two so I have lot's of time to worry about it.

Posted by: scarry | June 1, 2006 3:51 PM

I was allowed to stay over at people's houses since Jr. High, run the neighborhood, etc.

However, the difference between that and going to camp, was that everyone knew if they ever did anything to me my dad would kill them. Strangers don't know your father will throw them down a mine shaft, so I was only allowed to go to Girl Scout camp with the neighbor for one week, one time. I liked it okay, but had no desire to stay overnight

I feel like I have to say that there have been a lot of murders and incidents in my family, which has made my father a little paranoid. Wonderful father, but he has, unfortunately passed that on to me.

Posted by: scarry | June 1, 2006 3:56 PM

I went away to camp once the summer before 4th grade -- terrible! I was incredibly homesick and the kids were mean. My brother had an even worse situation and was teased alot. I think the problem was that I was a little young -- my mother, bless her, made the "mistake" of writing me this long letter to tell me how proud she was of me and what a big girl I was for going to an overnight camp and how much she missed me. I promptly burst into tears and cried for the next two weeks -- as you can imagine I was teased by my cabin mates as being a big baby. It was a really strange camp too. Just bad memories.
But other people I know loved camp -- its just my own personal experience. I would send my son to camp when he is a little older and it would have to be somewhere that was highly recommended.

Posted by: typical working mother | June 1, 2006 3:57 PM

I am also a former camp counselor... so I guess my opinion is that sending your kids off to camp isn't that different than letting them go over to someone else's house to play. Or letting them go over someone else's house when there was a babysitter there instead of a parent (does this still happen?)

I would recommend visiting the camp to be sure you are comfortable with the location and ask around about other people's experiences. Every camp I've experienced has been full of people who want to spend their time outside having fun with kids. The daycamp I worked at had a parent's night at the beginning and the end of the session. The one at the beginning was to meet the parents and tell them about the camp. The one at the end was to show off the campers -- songs they learned, arts & crafts projects, etc. Parents were never out of the loop, which I'm sure made them more comfortable with having us hang out with their kids every day.

Posted by: former camper | June 1, 2006 3:58 PM

I'm not a huge fan of camp, myself. I went to a YMCA camp one year, and a music camp for two summers; all of them were one week long. I really disliked the YMCA camp; the kids were cliquey and the enforced fun aspect irritated me. The music camp was better, I did learn a lot there, but I didn't love it and probably it wasn't the best use of my parents' money given how lukewarm I was about it. I guess I was spoiled by the unstructured, spontaneous fun of the summers I had at home, it might be different if you don't have that option.

Scarry, my mom always threatened that if somebody hurt me she'd "rip their throat out." I'm not sure which is better, that or the mine shaft...But we had a similar situation, everyone knew each other's families and everyone watched out for everyone else's kids. It makes me sad to not have the type of community anymore.

Posted by: Megan | June 1, 2006 4:08 PM

Many countries (including the United States) put requirements on Work Visas that do not allow the spouse of the person with the Visa to work.

Posted by: Working Overseas | June 1, 2006 4:12 PM

Re: Working abroad: I didn't read the post to say that women in particular weren't allowed to work. I just presumed he meant that she couldn't work because of visa issues. That's actually fairly common -- in a lot of countries, you can get a work visa only if you are sponsored by a company, and unless you can find a job and negotiate that before you go, you're generally stuck. So the spouse who got the original job offer gets a visa and can work, while the other can't. My sister-in-law just returned from Germany, and that's the case there -- she wasn't allowed to work the entire time they were there.

I'm dreading entering the whole school year/summer thing. This is going to sound incredibly stupid, but I honestly never thought about it before we had kids. My mom and stepdad were college professors, so they were always off when I was, and our family vacations were typically their research trips. I knew I didn't want to be an academic, but just never really thought about what that meant for the summers (talk about a "doh!").

And then, even when we had kids, daycare was year-round. And somehow, for me, at least, the summer pangs didn't set in while they were young -- there were days I wanted to play at the pool, but I knew my daughter was too young to remember, so I knew that would be for me more than for her. But now my daughter is going to kindergarten next fall and will have her first real summer break, and she'll be old enough to remember it. So all of a sudden, I want to find some way to give her those kinds of lazy summer memories that I had. But then again, I also realize that, as others have noted, the world has changed. When I was 7, I used to ride my bike a mile to the nearest park, and play there by myself for hours; when my daughter's 7, she'll do that over my dead body. So I just have to find a way to create an environment for her that is special and fun, but within the constraints of our modern society and our jobs. And as soon as I figure out what that is, I'll be sure to let you know. :-)

Posted by: Laura | June 1, 2006 4:18 PM

Actually by the time my children were in grade school summer became rest time. Yes, it was an effort to get bags packed and kids to daycare/YMCA/day camp, but evenings were blessedly free.

No sports, no music practice, no homework.

Has anyone else ever gone to the lost and found at the pool and picked out a childs swim suit that looks like the one that dissapeared, and considered themselves 'evened up'?

Posted by: RoseG | June 1, 2006 4:21 PM

So really, why does everyone keep saying that it's less safe now?

Is this perception or reality? I grew up in the suburbs and ran in packs too (I'm 27) and wonder (not in a snarky way) if it's really less safe or we're reacting to media hype.

Posted by: No kids yet | June 1, 2006 4:24 PM

"Has anyone else ever gone to the lost and found at the pool and picked out a childs swim suit that looks like the one that dissapeared, and considered themselves 'evened up'?"

If you are giving your child a "lost and found" used swimsuit, then...well, I don't even know what to say.

Posted by: LC | June 1, 2006 4:26 PM

for 2cents.
Your blog name is just so fitting to the worth of your opinion.

Posted by: rockville | June 1, 2006 4:28 PM

Thank you Lesly for this timely article. I call summer arrangements "patchwork child care".

Kids have 10 weeks off in the summer. There is not always camps or activities available to provide for all 10 weeks of vacation time. Fairfax County has summer care programs beginning week of July 4 and through to mid-August. This doesn't cover the 2 weeks after school is out or the week or 2 before school starts.

Most parents only get 2-3 weeks vacation each year. The time off we "workers" receive is not equitable with the amount of time our kids receive. That doesn't give us enough time to be with our kids all summer.

When I was growing up, I was the oldest and responsible for taking care of my 2 younger brothers and sister. A huge responsibility for a 10 year old. When we didn't have neighborhood kids around to play with, we sat in front of the TV all day. I can't blame my parents. They needed to work.

Being a single mom now on a secretary's wage, I don't have the luxury to afford the high priced camps. My wages don't increase in the summer to make up for the added expense of daycare in the summer.

To get affordable ALL DAY childcare through the County schools, you have to be registered already in the program during the school year. If you are not, you are placed on a long waiting list. And the Rec Pacs the County of Fairfax offers in the summer, only run from 8:30 to 3:30. So if my working hours are 8:00 to 5:00, how can I be late to arrive at work and leave early to pick up my son? And what do I do when my son is in middle school? There are no affordable options then.

I suggest that we pay teachers a very respectable wage and have year round school. This is more compatible with the way the rest of the world operates, and it keeps our kids from becoming "brain dead" over the summer.

It would also be nice if the working world would ease up a bit and allow more vacation time for their employees like Europeans have.

And both my parents still have to work to afford to live. So the idea that "grandparents" can care for the children over the summer, is from another era. It is not a reality anymore.

Posted by: Francesca | June 1, 2006 4:29 PM

No kids yet,
I think it is partially media hype, partially truth, and largely that parents make eachother feel guilty or negligent for letting their children run around unsupervised and unstructured. Parents peer pressure is forcing kids into playing video games all day and getting fat.

Posted by: LC | June 1, 2006 4:29 PM

No kids yet,

I wonder about that too, and don't have any solid information. But I will say that as I have already noted, when I was kid we had pretty free reign to do as we pleased. And, when I was little, a 12 year old girl raped when walking home on a road near our community. I didn't know about this until much later, and while everyone was horrified, I think it was viewed as an isolated incident and did not lead the parents to keeping their kids inside all the time.

I know that now, kids in that same community are not allowed to do half of what we did, and not because of any specific incident, more on the general feeling that the area is not as safe as it used to be. There has been a lot of development in the area, so it's not as semi-rural as it was, but I don't know that there's been any actual increase in crime. So I have to admit, there is part of me that wonders if I shouldn't let my son have his freedom too...but I would never forgive myself if anything happened to him as a result.

Posted by: Megan | June 1, 2006 4:32 PM

Ah, summer vacation. How
wonderful it was when *we* were kids, how horrific it is now
that we *have* kids! My mom was
a SAHM who endured the cries of "I'm bored!" from 4 kids, but
was smart enough to first set up some activities and then expect us to do it for ourselves over the years -- local park district programs, going to the library, bike rides, craft projects, swimming lessons, tennis lessons. We did it all. At age 16, my siblings and I found PT jobs. And, even though it was about 40 years ago, TV was, even then, an issue. However, without AC in the house and because most TV shows were terrible reruns and because it was light until 9 p.m. or so, it didn't matter too much. Once I became a mom and worked full-time and my son was no longer at a school with a summer program, oh, yeah, the panic set in. The worst was age 13 to 16. ACK! You can't send them to a program and there's nothing that's totally fabulous they want to go, do or see. When I was a kid, my parents often did send us on summer "vacations" to my grandparents and they were a blast. Grandma and Grandpa lived in a small town where everything was within walking distance, my grandpa got some old junker bikes for us to use, and there were kids in the neighborhood who we looked forward to seeing each summer! G&G also took us to see other relatives we otherwise wouldn't have seen or met and it gave them a chance to go to zoos and attend parades and do other
"kid" stuff, too! Someday, even if I'm a working grandmother, I plan to take time off to host my grandkids and have similar "vacations" for them -- and time off for their dad and mom! I also have to say that now that my son is beyond H.S. age, I am so totally RELIEVED to not have to worry about any of this anymore!!

Posted by: SF Mom | June 1, 2006 4:38 PM

This summer, my 6 year old is going to daycamp. They'll do arts and crafts, sports, swimming, field trips, theme weeks, etc. So, he'll have fun. But summer isn't just being socked away in an office for me. I do have my son and I romped together in the sprinkler last night. And weekends...lots of cookouts with the neighbors, trips to the beach, lazy afternoons at the pool, and lots of watermelon. Plus, we're taking two vacations as a family. To me, and I do work fulltime, it's a nice balance!

Posted by: onlymom | June 1, 2006 4:38 PM

Just a point here, but it's a really bad idea to leave children unsupervised at the community pool. The lifeguards (who probably earn minimum wage) are hired to watch people in the pool - not babysit kids. In fact, kids can do a lot of dangerous and flat-out inappropriate things when nobody is actually watching them at the pool. Lifeguards can't and shouldn't be responsible for babysitting.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 4:41 PM

It's also easier for children to stay at home and not drive their parents crazy with boredness. There are video games, DVDs, and the Internet although these activities are leading to childhood obesity (fact), violence (maybe), and vulnerability to sexual preditors (fact). However, by allowing children to stay at home and do these activities, no parent will ever have to say "I would never forgive myself if..."

Therefore, whether TODAY its more dangerous for kids to play outside unsupervised, parents don't have to take that chance because children can be entertained for hours, days, and weeks without ever leaving the house.


Posted by: LC | June 1, 2006 4:48 PM

A good opportunity for kids who are too old for camp is to encourage them to become Counselors In Training. Many camps will let you be a CIT once you're 14. It's not a paying position, but sets a kid up to be a paid counselor when he/she turns 16.

My 14 yo is going back to a rec dept. specialty camp he enjoyed several years ago, only this time as a CIT. I was working when he attended; now I'm home on disability, but he said sitting around the house would get old after a week, so he made the contacts and arranged it.

Posted by: Derwood Mom | June 1, 2006 4:49 PM

Sometimes you should ask yourself what your child wants, needs, and enjoys. As an introvert who is grateful that I didn't get sent to kindergarten and had free and fun summer breaks, I would have hated being sent to day camps and a bunch of week-long camps. I did go to grandma's for a week a few times, and I did go to 4-H camp when I was 13 (didn't really like it), then went back as a counselor when I was 17 (loved it).

I'm so glad that my mom could be a SAH with me and my sister. We had great summers at our lake house (single-wide trailer, no a/c) with tons of books and trips to the pool or lake. If you can, please take into account that not all kids want to be in social and group situations all day and give them some quiet, introspective alternatives.

Posted by: DC | June 1, 2006 4:54 PM

Hey 2cents,

Can you spell that word better for me, I don't understand what you are trying to say.

I am a bad speller myself, so I use spell check most of the time. I thought you were calling Leslie a profanity, but I am surely mistaken, since you don't know her.

Posted by: scarry | June 1, 2006 4:55 PM

"year long school" to avoid kids "going brain dead" in the summer -- yuck! Can't kids have some freedom from scheduling before they become worker-drones? I probably learned more from my own reading in the summer than I did in school. I never really liked being in school, and I'm a successful professional with a graduate degree. Please, before you sentence kids to year-long school to make life more convenient for working parents, some who never even thought about how to take care of kids in the summer before they had kids(!), think about how hard it is for children to be still and quiet in classes all day long. Try to imagine how you would have felt with no summer breaks. It's not all about the parents, ok?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 5:06 PM

We were in UK. Was no spouse work allowed on my visa.

Sleep-away camp can be fine, but since we have town pool, swim team, YMCA day camp, hockey camp, soccer camp, writing camp, art camp and we provide a solid regimen of weeding camp, painting camp, and clean the basement camp, we make our kids suffer and forgo the experience. Would home school texas hold'em camp be considered inappropriate?

Posted by: Father of 3 | June 1, 2006 5:24 PM

I think it's more dangerous today for many reasons. For example, I work from home today, the only other person I've seen is the UPS man! My point is that there aren't as many people around during the day to ask the pedaphile why he is hangin around the playground.

Also, people are getting away with more now. Look at that short man who raped a 12 year old girl. He got off becasue he was short! Come on, I think the judge should have to take him home with her.

There are many other reasons, but when it comes right down to it, it's the parent's choice, so chose wisely.

Posted by: scarry | June 1, 2006 5:27 PM

I'm puzzled by the person who posted at 5:06pm. What are you talking about? You seem to know so much about all working parents that you chose to generalize all of us. We are talking about how working parents have to address summers for their children. And no, we didn't have children and then went oops, we forgot about the summer. What do you mean by its not all about the parents? I and other parents (both working and stay at home) have to make sure our children are safe, as well as have things to do. This doesn't always translate to "classes" -- we are discussing how to deal with this issue and not sentencing our children to year long school. many of us have to work to pay the bills and have no choice in staying home and yes, we have children. Its just a fact of life that summer means a different kind of schedule. Do you have children? if so, do you work or stay home?

Posted by: typical working mother | June 1, 2006 5:29 PM

LC wrote: "However, by allowing children to stay at home and do these activities, no parent will ever have to say "I would never forgive myself if..." "

I sure as heck would - I don't think that the duty to supervise our children in light of safety concerns is limited to outdoors, and I doubt many of the other parents do either. It seems to me that this is the precise reason parents are fretting over finding camps and other summer care arrangements, so their kids won't be sitting around the house on or playing Grand Theft Auto all day.

Posted by: Megan | June 1, 2006 5:32 PM

I sort of understand your concern and fear. However, I shriek at seeing you wringing your hands and looking down at other neighbors as they let their children live fun lives and play outside. For your kids sake, get some help and allow them to have a life when they grow up.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 5:34 PM

I don't see where Scarry was "looking down at other neighbors" so I think you can ease up on your "shrieking". She never said she didn't want her kids to live fun lives and play outside, she said she worried that camp counselors don't watch the kids closely enough, and given some of the stories I've heard, the fear is not unjustified.

Posted by: Megan | June 1, 2006 5:41 PM

my kids are outside somewhere in the neighborhood right now. i don't know where they are. but i know every parent in this neighborhood watches every kid. when the kids started skateboarding with the construction guy (he's not a stranger, he's a skateboarder!), my phone started ringing. you have to give your kids some freedom. that said, we have so many parents, nannies and retired folk that someone is always around, so we are fortunate in that regard. a yearly block party ensures that we all know each other too.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 5:45 PM

I had a life, my kid has a life, so don't judge me, you only know what I post on here. Am I paraniod yes, do I let my two year old go outside and wander away from me, no. I find your post offensive and you must be naive about what can and does happen to children when they are left unsupervised. We don't live in Mayberry you know.

I hope for your child's sake that you don't let them run hog wild and a bad person sees this as an open invitation. Geez, I try so hard to be nice and someone always has to start!

Posted by: scarry | June 1, 2006 5:46 PM

The issue of year-round school hadn't occurred to me in this discussion, and I wouldn't advocate it, but it does bring up some interesting issues. To wit, even though European countries do have those long summer vacations, their kids have longer school years---and often outperform American kids on international comparisons of academic performance. Also, education researchers have told me that kids forget a lot over the summer, and teachers have to spend a lot of time reviewing when school starts.

Again, not saying I'd want kids to be in school year round, but 10 months might not be bad.

Posted by: THS | June 1, 2006 5:48 PM

two year olds don't belong outside alone! be nice to scarry, stop shrieking, and offer helpful advice.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 5:49 PM

I smile when people are concerned about safety because of pedophiles. I am also concerned about safety in areas that are actually more common than pedophilia. What about the kids getting hurt by falling off bicycles, out of trees, hit with the baseball, or any other possible accident involving kids who are out running around? Yes, that is how I spent my summers. My mother had to work because she was divorced from my deadbeat dad. But there were plenty of other SAHM's in the neighborhood who were her friends or acquaintances. We always knew that we could turn to any adult we knew in the neighborhood if we needed any sort of help. We also knew that any of these adults could see fit to discipline us in any way they chose if we were behaving badly. These days, there are very few adults home in my neighborhood during the day. Our children would not be able to go to anyone for help if they needed it.

I would have never considered sending my kids to grandparents for the entire summer. Although I do believe that it can be wonderful for the children and grandparents, I would flat out miss them too much. I could handle a week, but they were working themselves, so it wasn't possible.
I also love summer when I can spend my non-working time with my kids without dealing with homework, school projects, and team sports which are scheduled during school year only.

I have a 14 year old girl who will be a freshman in high school and thinks she should be allowed to stay home this summer - no longer interested in camps. since we have 4 14-year old boys in the neighborhood who will most likely be home while their parents are working, I will be finding something for her to do =). CIT or junior counseling programs are great and worked very well for my oldest daughter. However, the 14-year-old HATED it last year and I refuse to make her do something she hates that much. So we are patching together a variety of solutions. some camp, some visiting friends, some vacation days by parents. It's not easy and I'm glad it is almost over.

PS - hiring high school/college students is sometimes just as costly as camps. If you use accredited camps, you know that the staff has gone through background checks. You're not always sure what you get with students.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 5:50 PM

This entire discussion makes me sick. How much navel gazing can all you people do in one day?

If your biggest worry is how to keep your kids entertained during the summer, or possibly "depriving" them of leisurely days, and you have the time to navel gaze about it, then quite frankly you have too much time on your hands.

Posted by: Disgusted | June 1, 2006 5:51 PM

You are right Megan,

I wasn't looking down at my neighbors. I was just trying to explain that things are different now then they used to be.

My daughter goes to daycare, she has fun, however about a month ago a pervert took his pants off and started shaking it at the daycare in full view of the children.

A father ran this guy down, while the daycare moved all the kids to the back of the school, the cops came and they arrested him. However, they came back the next day to see how close he was to the school. There is probably some dumb rule that states you can shake your penis at a bunch of little kids if you are a certian distance away.

I really don't think that I am the one who needs help.

Posted by: scarry | June 1, 2006 5:53 PM

"navel gazing"

I don't know what this means, but apparently you do it too and enjoy it or you wouldn't read the blog!

Posted by: scarry | June 1, 2006 5:56 PM

After being a SAHM for 6 years (kids are now 6 and 4), I am back to work full-time. Boy am I going to miss the lazy summer days with my kids! Living in DC there are certainly plenty of camps & activities for them to do. What bothers me about a summer filled with "daycare camp" is that the kids still have to wake up at a certain time, get ready and be somewhere "on time". It's like having to go to work or school. I think it's kind of sad that they have the concept of the weekend (asking on Tuesday - is it Saturday yet?) I used to love to have days where nothing was planned - the kids could sleep as late as they wanted, breakfast could last forever, and yeah, sometimes we'd be in our PJs until 11 or later! (FYI, I consider myself to be Type B)

With a mix of camp and babysitters, my kids will have a semi-relaxed summer. But I'll still have to get up and out everyday!

Posted by: DCmom | June 1, 2006 6:13 PM

Just wanted to weigh in that I too am freaked out by my kids going to sleepaway camp. Part of it is that I would miss them too much. I will let them go to camp if they want to -- when they are teenagers but not now (9,7 &4). Although my husband went to sleepaway camp starting when he was 7 (with his stepbrother), no problems. I went to a great camp in Pennsylvania (Longacre Farm) when I was a teenager. A godsend because I needed serious distance from my parents and came home far more responsible for myself.

Posted by: Leslie | June 1, 2006 6:25 PM

I have five siblings, all six born in an eight year span. Mom couldn't to work outside the home...had plenty to do just keeping us together.
Summers were really great, we had a place on a lake and spent our days swimming, bike riding, fishing, playing with friends...I do feel sorry for kids today.
We were NEVER bored or at least we never said we were bored. Mom had a "bored" list: cleaning the bathroom, shining silver, cleaning out the silverware drawer, etc. We always found something to do.
My nieces and nephews don't sit and watch TV...cable is canceled for the summer!

Posted by: Never Bored | June 1, 2006 6:42 PM

Scarry, you are definitely NOT the person who needs help, whoever was yelling at you was being ridiculous.

I can't believe that story about the guy at your daughter's daycare, that's insane! Just goes to show.

And I like the idea of a "bored list" from Never Bored, I'll have to remember that...

Posted by: Megan | June 1, 2006 6:49 PM


It was really scary and my daughter wasn't even there that day. Thank goodness that the staff were trained on what to do and someone else's father took it upon himself to chase the guy. That's how the cops found him. I'm am pretty liberal, but not when it comes to children-mine or anyone else's.

Posted by: scarry | June 1, 2006 7:49 PM

"I smile when people are concerned about safety because of pedophiles."

I worry about everything you do as well, but you really need to go to the sex offender's website. They are everwhere! And, the ones on their are only the registered ones.

Posted by: scarry | June 1, 2006 7:52 PM

2 cents: Your comment violated's comments rule and has been removed from this site. In the future, please only post comments that further the conversation.

Posted by: | June 1, 2006 9:01 PM

7 more days of school. Then I get to spend the rest of the summer with my kids. There is a very good reason that the Adam in the comics starts singing "it's the most wonderful time of the year" as he shops for school supplies. Or is that the staples commercial? I don't have any day care issues, and I do let my kids roam our development as long as they are together. They have cell phones. (it was cheaper than an american girl doll. I am a little nervous about the summer , but have a few things lined up so we are not without structure. Good luck to everyone. I wish there were a perfect solution, but there seem to be some manageable ones. Good night.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 2, 2006 12:16 AM

A lot of people seem to be reminiscing about those long lost lazy summer days. I agree, the world is a very different place from the world of 1954, but there are still places in America where the kids walk home from school and play all day unsupervised. Though I grew up in Potomac, I've chosen to settle in a nice, middle -class suburb of Philly. I do miss D.C., a lot at times, but I don't miss its prohibitive cost-of-living. What my husband and I lack in material wealth and status, we hopefully make up for in our quality of life.

To whit: the other day I was walking around my neighborhood and saw a gaggle of youngsters - the eldest was pulling the younger ones in a little wagon tied to his bike. He was maybe 6, and the youngest looked to be about 3. And, no, there weren't any parents supervising. This is common in our neighborhood, where we all know each other and look out for each other's kids.

I know that this isn't helpful to anyone trying to solve the summer care dilemma, but I do want to reassure you all that there ARE still places in America that are family-centric.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2006 2:05 PM

oops, "to wit" - spelling is not my strength.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2006 4:11 PM

My problem is that I teach at the graduate level and our school starts back in session before my kids start school. And there are no camps in our area the last two weeks of August. Basically, it appears that the assumption for camp schedules is that children go straight from school to camp and then parents take vacation the last two weeks of August (or before school starts). But not everyone can take the same two weeks off!

The problem with flexible schedules is that often childcare is not flexible.

I only teach two days a week for a few hours but I need time to prepare my classes, etc. Fortunately, I have now "grown my own babysitter," a 12 year old who has had a babysitting class. But I would much prefer to send my children to camp when I am working & have them home when I am home to mind them.

I also sometimes trade days with friends, so if I teach Monday and Wednesday, I'll do childcare for my own children and their friends on Tuesday and Thursday with a friend taking care of children on the other days.

I do think it is important to realize that in many ways we are in this together, SAHMS and Part-time &full-time working moms. Certainly, my mom who was a SAHM enjoyed having her children at sleepaway camp or day camp.

I also think that housing density/family size affect the lazy summer. The more dense the housing (1/4 acre lots instead of 1 acre lots or apartments instead of private homes) and the larger the families, the more likely a child will be able to find a friend to play with.

It was great for my sister when she had a friend her age living next door. Of the 18 or so houses in our immediate area, most are occupied by senior citizens. Only 5 (including me) have children, and 2 have younger children. One has boys, and one has a girl who is not compatible with my daughters.

Fortunately, both my daughters love to read. And both of them can find something to do when I tell them that if they're bored, they can clean their rooms, the bathrooms, etc. (A John Rosemond trick). It definitely works.

Posted by: es | June 3, 2006 8:23 PM

As a grandmother who loves keeping my grandkids, I wonder how many nonworking grandmas there are out there!
My grandsons will come to me for a week, but I have to put them in daycamp while they're here. (I can afford a really good, interesting camp, though, and if they were at home it would be another week at the Y.)
They'll come later for another week, and my vacation will be taking them to the beach.

Posted by: Carol | June 5, 2006 12:47 PM

Regarding 'year long school':

That is a misnomer. Usually, between each quarter, the kids are off for three weeks, which makes childcare that much more complicated!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 5, 2006 2:33 PM

Activities during the summer aren't just for entertainment for the kids; it is for supervision!

Fairfax County (perhaps all of Virginia) has 'guidelines' for leaving your children alone:
0-8 cannot be left alone at all
8-10 may be left for up to 1.5 hours
10-12 may be left for up to 3 hours
12> more time, but I cannot remember what it is.

Fairfax County offers programs for middle school kids. My son, 13, goes to the teen center at YMCA in Reston (free!!) after school now. He can stay there until 10 p.m. during the week (but he doesn't)

During the summer, there is a teen center in Herndon that is open from 7 a.m. (I think) After that, a bus from the YMCA teen center (also free, by the way) comes to pick up the kids at 2 p.m.

Kids this age can get into SO much trouble!! They use poor judgement and because they think they are 'big now', they can really get into trouble.

Posted by: supervise your kids | June 5, 2006 2:57 PM

I loved going away to visit my extended family (not grandma, because she passed away when my mom was a baby, but my aunt who is as good as a grandma). Every year I went 8 hours away by car and spent anywhere from one to two months with family and loved every second of it. I don't believe I was scarred in any way from being apart from my parents, and I learned a lot from the experience.

Posted by: Poolesville, MD | June 5, 2006 5:22 PM

Just to mention re: the expense of day camp -- remember that if both parents work, and the child is not over age 12, you can put funds in your FSA to pay for it so that you get a tax benefit. We put aside about $3K every year for our son's summer camp costs, and in this way can afford to send him to programs that are of excellent quality.

We just returned from our vacation, taken in the beginning-of-summer camp gap. Here in the Midwest, it takes great creativity to keep him covered until school resumes. I comb the web and the newspapers looking for every program that exists here, and we usually have deposits paid by March 1st. This year he will be attending programs in 4 separate places: 2 weeks, then 5 weeks, then 3 weeks, then 1 week. Luckily, he's a kid who likes experiencing new people and places.

Posted by: Ryn | June 7, 2006 2:11 PM

Just wanted to add my thoughts:
Statistically, violence against children has not gone up. The perception definitely is that it has. It could be that the constant media attention to abductions and violence involving children makes people believe that it is just around the corner or it could be that people are keeping their kids more supervised, so they're preventing violence.

I have a two-year old daughter and I already know that it will take every ounce of courage I have to let her go to camp when she's ready. It terrifies me that something will happen to her, but I had such a great time at camp and I don't want my fear to prevent her from being an independent little person.

My other comment is regarding the tone of the post regarding SAHM. While, I agree with many others that Leslie didn't intend to put down SAHMs, there something about the language in some of the posts that I find condescending. The word choices you use like the pretty dresses and cut-off shorts, make me feel like you see SAHM as sort of "fake" people. Another post I remember is one where you talked about us having "Carol Brady" confidence in our husband's providing for us.

It just comes across to me that you see SAHMs as sort of vacuous women without much to do but look pretty and have fun. I don't think you mean it to come across that way. I'm just letting you know that as I read many of your posts, I come across phrases that just don't make me feel very respected.

I can definitely relate to much that you talk about since I worked in the corporate environment for many years. I remember how awful it feels to wear panty hose when it's so hot out they almost melt to your skin.

I love staying home and I love the summer. I feel so lucky to be able to hang out outside with my daughter and go swimming or to the park. It is so much fun (although, I definitely agree with a previous comment that it's a little payback for the LONG winter days where you feel like the time between naptime and dinner is years, not hours).

I have to say that the image of me looking fresh and well-rested in a sweet little sundress gets a little more realistic when you add in the big bags of stuff you have to schlep to the beach, the huge, wrinkly wet spot in the middle of the dress from a wet kid who has to be carried, the food stains from lunch and the oily sunscreen patches. I wouldn't trade it for the world, but the reality isn't exactly glamorous.

Posted by: gmom | June 8, 2006 3:59 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company