Overrated: Summer vacation anything but, for tormented moms
bySep 16th 2008 9:00AM
Thank God it's over.
Every June it's the same thing: my tightly-honed schedule comes crashing down around my ears, and chaos reigns supreme for the next three months.
All parents know what I'm talking about: Summer vacation.
Since I work from home, some working parents would assume I have it easy when school lets out for the summer. Anything but! Suddenly there are camps, a different one for each kid (and always on opposite ends of town) that I need to drive them to. Hours are spent chauffeuring, entertaining, feeding...all the tedious chores I get to ignore when they're happily in school, learning and playing with their friends, under the watchful eyes of professionals.
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Then there's the hit on my wallet, trying to find them exciting things to do during summer vacation. These camps add up. A week here, a week there. None of them ever a full-day. But the alternative, leaving them at home, is a recipe for disaster too. They will sit and watch TV and play Nintendo until they're zombies. With their friends.
It's not clear how a nine-month school-year came to be followed by a three-month vacation. Some say it stems from our rural, farm-dwelling past, when kids were needed for the harvest. But harvest is in the fall, and planting is done in April/May.
Fortunately, the movement toward year-long school is gaining traction, although slowly. Even though most working parents have every reason to welcome a year-round schedule (typically nine weeks followed by three weeks vacation, year round), the topic is still controversial.
If I lived in Europe, and had all of August off -- paid! -- then I'm quite sure I'd sing a different tune about summer vacation. Alas. I'm an American. And as it's done now, summer vacation is a giant drag, especially for working parents.