This summer, for the first time, my two boys are occupied without me for most days. They will spend three weeks in Los Angeles with their biological father and then a month at sleep away camp which they've done before and love (and there are no televisions or computers there!)
In the first five years of their lives, I spent almost every minute of every summer day with them, and slowly eased them into day camp, which was fantastic but so hot all day, and later, when I began to work all summer, directed their attention to a wonderful sleep away camp that's been in my family since my now fully grown baby brother was a tyke. In fact, the lovely woman he is married to was also a camper there and that is where they met. Ahhh, summer love...
Be that as it may, the summer should be enjoyed by children. It's a boon to us that this summer they are booked up almost completely, for my husband and I don't have the summers off and the boys are bored and at loose ends with nothing to fill the long, hot days.
Nevertheless, there is a certain sense of conflict I feel and I am not alone. A coworker of mine talks with deep regret about her 10-year-old son, who is already off from school and is bopping around doing fun activities with her parents, her siblings and his friends while she works during the summer days. Sure, she'll take a day or two off here and there, and, of course, there's the Fourth of July, but she is wistful and sad that she can't spend the summer loafing about with her boy, fishing and hiking, camping and making s'mores, going shoeless and watchless.
We have to work and we have to support our families, and our children need things to do.
Of course, some of us aren't working in the summer. We become lake dwellers, sun screeners, pool hoppers, barbecuers and ice pop makers. We enjoy every minute or perhaps every other minute of it and, toward August, fantasize about what sleep away camp might be like should our resources and childrens' preferences ever allow.
Still, it's important that each member of the family get some time away in the summer. We work so hard all year; the weather is difficult in many parts of the world, the schedules are jam packed and hectic; dinner must be nutritious and on the table in a timely manner every evening. So if your children are with you all summer, enjoy them, but also, take some time away for yourself. Leave them with your friends or family for a day and just go to the water by yourself with a good book.
If your kids will be away for a good portion of the summer, indulge in a deep relaxation you haven't been able to allow yourself all year. Personally, my conflicted emotions never stop - I love my children so much that being apart from them is painful even as I know it's quite healthy since they'll be with other children, socializing, well cared for and physically active. Yet I will focus on the benefits of time away for all of us. My husband and I can get a level of quiet time in our home we never really have, and the children will get to find out who they are in their own skin, away from our domestic dynamic. It's lonely and wonderful.
Edited by Alison Stanton
Aimee Boyle lives and works in CT. She is a regular contributor to EmpowHER