Preparing for Summer is Such a Chore

Spring break is over and it is now time to focus on Summer.  One of the things I loathe is planning my summer.  Summer is supposed to be fun in the sun and a time to relax by the pool.  Unfortunately I work and my big task now is planning summer day camps for my kids.  I cringe at how much money we spend on summer camps and childcare.  Because I work full time, my kids cannot be at home with me while I work from home.  One , they are too noisy and two, they would hurt each other severly after 9:30 am when my daughter wakes up. 

My big dilemna is where to send the kids to camp and not spend a fortune in the meantime.  It is okay for them to have the downtime and complain about being bored with nothing to do (except for every board game on earth, the swimming pool, watching tv, playing video games, and some reading).

I struggle with where to send 2 kids to day camp and how to get them there and pick them up.  I don’t understand how so many day camps are from 9:00 to 12:00 and cost over $200 for 3 hours a day for 5 days a week?  These camps are obviously not for working parents.  What do you do with the other 5 hours of the work day that childcare needs to be covered?  Do you pay for them to go to another camp?  I don’t.

Coming up with a good mix of camps that they will enjoy and possibly have other friends at is a full time job.  I also have weeks where one is a Girl Scout Day Camp from 8:30 to 3:00 one week and I need to figure out what to do with my son while trying to avoid driving across town.  My son will be attending one week of overnight Boy Scout Camp and we have decided to send my daughter to overnight Girl Scout camp for a week.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work out to send them both away the same week.  That means 3 of the 10 summer weeks are not available for family vacation due to some camps.  There is a two week day camp with hours from 10:00 to 4:00 in August that they will be on the wait list for.  We do have a good City of Anaheim day camp that I love to send them to in early summer because it is cheap and outdoors.  It is at a park and only $110 per camper which includes the extended hours of 7:00 to 6:00. They have a small non-airconditioned room the kids use at the end of the day and at least they know each other plus get to go on one field trip. I don’t feel that I can send the kids there in August as it is just too hot to be outdoors all day.

I would love to send them to some art camps that are through the city and cover afternoon hours.  I am surprised at how many camps are from 9-noon. Don’t these kids sleep in?  I have one that will sleep until 9:30 and one that is up at 7:00am but is occupied by the tv for hours while his sister sleeps.  If I am lucky maybe I can find something from 1:00 to 5:00 and can find a dad that could watch them for a couple hours in the morning then take them to camp after feeding them lunch.

The school district tries very hard to provide a good summer program with an outing a week, but my kid’s friends don’t go to this camp and my son thinks it is a bit boring now.  It is fine for afterschool, but gets old for 8 hours a day all summer.  During the school year my childcare costs have gone down to $400 a month total, but in the summer the camps can be anywhere from $110 to $200 a week per child which does not include the sleep away camps. 

In addition to this I need to plan our summer vacation of where to go, what to do, how to get there and where to stay all trying to stay within a budget.  My daughter told me that she really doesn’t care where we go on vacation as long as we have fun.  To a 9 year old, just staying somewhere else is fun. She does have a great point and I am learning from her perspective.

What do other full time working moms do with their kids during the summer months off?  How long does it take you to figure out this master plan called summer fun?

Should Kids be Challenged in School or Is it Okay to Just Get Good Grades?

I have always thought my kids went to a good school. They have an active PTA that does a lot for the school and provides extra programs for the kids that keeps them engaged.  I am starting to wonder how great the school is when the classroom numbers are so high (39 or 40 per class) and they employ teachers that don’t challenge the kids.

I met with my daughter’s teacher, principal, psychologist, and other teacher this week as I was concerned about my daughter not paying attention in class.  She is medicated for ADHD and it makes a world of difference. Thankfully, she is smart, but does have some behavioral issues at times at home.  She has told me many times that she does her homework in class while the teacher is teaching the lesson and that she doesn’t pay attention during some subjects.  The bottom line is that she is smart and gets good grades so they don’t really care what she does in class because she is not disrupting other children.  She is too smart to sit in the front row where she would need to pay atttention because there are other kids that behavior and/or learning issues that need to be there.  The education professionals in that room told me that they don’t care what activities she is doing in class as long as she is still getting good grades and not disturbing others.  While I am educated and understand that principal, is it okay to still be disappointed that she is in a class where she is not challenged?  Is it okay to only teach to the tests and nothing above?  I am sure I should be more grateful that she does well with minimal effort and no, I do not think she is a superstar or better than most kids. 

While my daughter has never been excited about school or engaged in school, I have had the complete opposite experience with my son at the same school. I know that each child is different and they both learn differently, but every teacher my son has had challenges the students.  I know he has the best teacher at the school this year, but all his previous teachers have been great as well. My daughter has not had any of the same teachers.  This year he has been challenged and encouraged to think creatively with writing, reading, and science.  There have been many collaborative learning opportunities that the whole class was excited about.  The same week that I had the meeting for my daughter, my son had a group science experiment day where the kids were encouraged to work together in small groups and build Rube Goldberg displays and created contraptions that would keep an egg from breaking when falling from ceiling height.

I think kids do better when they are challenged and are engaged in the learning lesson. In the adult world so many of us learn from doing.  We have all been through training at work, but the real learning is from hands on practice and doing it.  It is too bad not all classrooms and teachers are created equal. 

Are your children’s teacher teaching to the tests?  Are they teaching so that your kids get good grades?  Or are they challenging your child and making learning fun for the kids?  Does is matter that the kids get good grades, but are not challenged or engaged at school?

 

 

 

Sore from Vacation

I am sensing a running theme from my past 5 vacations over the years…… I exercise a lot more on vacation than I do at home. I don’t mean to, but it is just keeping up with the kids.  The past 5+ vacations with my kids were to some great places, but I return home with sore muscles every time.  Why do we always have to hike up hills and encounter 500 steps in a day?

A few years ago we went to Flagstaff with my husband’s family and visited some National Parks that consisted of hiking down, then up some pretty steep hills.  The kids love it, but I struggle to keep up. Next was supposed to be a relaxing vacation in Hawaii which again turned out to be hiking down to see the blowhole, then back up to the car.  We hiked to a waterfall.  The rest of the time was spent swimming in the ocean so now my legs and arms were sore.  Another vacation was hiking down the mountains in Crested Butte, CO. In addition to that I fell down the mountain and have a nasty scar on my knee that will never go away.

Last Spring Break we went to San Francisco and although we took the cable cars quite a bit, the kids decided to hike up Lombard Street!  What were they thinking?  That street is designed to drive down, not walk up.  The walk around Alcatraz Island was steep going up also.

This Spring Break I thought I was safe with a trip up the coast to Cambria.  Boy was I wrong again.  The day at Hearst Castle was 302 steps on our tour.  We stayed at a beautiful lodge in Cambria, but again it was on a hill that had stairs going down into town.  The kids thought it was a lot of fun to take the steps down and they enjoyed going up too.  The 302 steps at Hearst Castle was followed by 231 steps up from town to the lodge while my husband drove.  I am not sure if I was chaperoning the kids or if they were taking care of me to make sure I made it up okay.

Does everyone come back from vacation sore?  Why do I get sore at the beginning of the vacation and not at the end?  Is there a vacation destination that does not require hiking or stairs?  Maybe this is my punishment for not exercising on a regular basis.

 

Truths about Working From Home

I work.  Yes, People that work from home actually work and learn to get more accomplished in the quiet empty house than being in an office with distractions. 

 

No, I am not tempted to do housework.  That is a chore for the whole family to enjoy.  Work work is much more fulfilling than housework.  I will admit that I do enjoy the option to throw a load of laundry in a couple times a week, but I can assure you the task of folding and putting it away is for the whole family to enjoy. 

There are times when I might put my dirty dishes in the dishwasher while I am making myself lunch.  The truth is that I do this while waiting for my leftovers from last night to heat up in the microwave. I tend to each leftovers for lunch each day.  Once lunch is made it is back to my desk and eating in front of the computer while working. I do save money on not going out to lunch everyday as I did when I worked in the office.  I almost always went out to lunch.  Now I go out to lunch about once a month and it tends to be a long lunch.  When I worked in the office I also did errands at lunch, but not now. Sit in front of the computer and eat your lunch.

Since I am home, I do get interrupted by my kids who call because they forgot to bring something to school. Thankfully, this is not everyday, but it does happen. It is nice to be able to pop in at school for and spend 45 minutes at the kid’s class parties once every 3 months. I love being able to participate in Family Picnic Day at the kids’ school having lunch with them twice a year.

It freaks me out when the doorbell rings.  My inner curiousity gets the best of me because I want to know who is there, but I don’t want to be interrupted.  On occasion it has been convenient for someone to drop something off at my house during the day, but there really is not chit chat involved as I do get right back to work. At Christmas time, I do enjoy being home for the UPS man and am able to hide my Amazon deliveries before the rest of the family gets home.

I spend so much less money on gas. I can now go two weeks in between fill ups.  I am horrible about submitting my expense report for my phone and internet, but I justify it by the amount of money I save on gas.

 

It is great to get off work at 5 or 5:30 and be home at the same time ready to start dinner. I am able to have dinner prepared and on the table at 6-6:30 every night for the family.  I also get to plan for my meals and have the whole day to remember to take meat out of the freezer for dinner tonight.  When you are in the office, you have to take it out before you leave or stop and getting something on the way home.

As much as I appreciate the quiet house during the day with nobody home, I go stir crazy.  I don’t get out enough.  My life consists of work at home, pick kids up from school, take son to baseball, make dinner and stay home with the family. Errands are done on weekends.  There are many times when I hit a wall and just have had too much home time and need to get dressed up and go out.  (I do get up, shower, and get dressed daily before work).  Thankfully, my husband understands this need to escape the house.  My sister also understands this need and is almost always there for me to go out and have a drink.

Conference calls are a time for me to put the call on speaker and mute myself.  Depending upon my role in the call, some I can enjoy and listen only.  I can get a lot accomplished on these calls like putting on make up, fixing lunch, loading the dishwasher, starting some laundry, then back to work on more emails.  Checking Facebook is sometimes a priority as well.

I am sure I can think of so many more wonderful things about working from home.  Working at home is work and not meant to be abused.  It is a huge benefit that contributes to a great work-life balance.