Dear Parents Who Have Summer Malaise: I Feel Ya, I Hear Ya.
Like it or not, it's different nowadays than when we were kids. Not sure if that's our fault or society's fault, but either way, summers can be tough.
Let's get a few things out of the way first - school is NOT daycare and teachers are not babysitters. We all know this. But it's a part of life that happens to be in the favor of working parents at the moment.
I'm also VERY lucky that I have a job that allows me to be home with our son for most of the day - I don't work a typical 9-5. But that also means that I'm up before the sun rises, and when I get home, my son has only been up for an hour and is bouncing off the walls, ready to go.
My fellow parents, I feel your malaise. I almost lost it yesterday. Being a working parent during the summer is utterly exhausting. And don't even get me STARTED on the price of summer camps. There's no way we can afford morning daycare while we're at work PLUS $250+ every week for camps.
We've gone to state parks, lakes, Genesee county parks, swimming in our own backyard, trampoline parks and more. There's no shortage of things to do. And we work very hard to be able to afford some of those activities. But when you're a working parent, it can be even more of a challenge to have a great time with your kid.
I saw a mom at Heron Beach who was sitting in the water, and you could tell that she was trying to enjoy herself with her kids splashing about, but she looked exhausted. At one point, she started yelling that the fish were biting her. I could relate to her overall frustration. It's like she just...lost it.
At the risk of sounding crotchety, it's just "not the same" as it was when we were kids. I remember having an entire neighborhood of kids that were my age to play with until the street lights came on. Now, we live in a subdivision with mostly little kids, so that's a challenge for our son, who's 11 going on 16.
Also, let's be honest - a lot of us are helicopter parents. We're told that we should be afraid of the world, so we are. I can't imagine my son, taking his bike with his friends and disappearing for an entire day without a cell phone, like I did when I was young.
The "village" that helped raise us just isn't there anymore for a lot of people. If you've got a large support system, bless your heart. Yes, I'm jealous. We've never lived close to family, and even when we did, they were less-than-helpful. I remember spending days, overnights and weekends with grandparents, extended family, etc. That would NEVER happen for us nowadays. Maybe for some, but not all.
Lots of homes have both parents working because they have to. Everybody is stretching every minute and every dollar, and it can be tough to keep your kids entertained for three months straight.
My advice? If you can get something for free, DO IT. We posted a picture from the Whoa Zone at Heron Beach and ended up winning two free tickets. There are also a TON of free activities around our area - the county parks have free programs, beaches are free, etc. Keep an eye out for weekday discounts at businesses - i.e. Planet 3 Extreme Air Park in Flint has $5 Tuesdays, where your first hour of jumping is only $5.
But even when you have activities planned, mustering up the patience and energy after work can be just as tough. I feel you, fellow parents. And I salute you.