Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tips for Camp Mommy's head counselor

Cleveland's art museum has a new children's area,
free to the public
Perhaps, like me, you'd love to awake each summer morning, pour a cup of coffee, coax your babes into their camp uniforms, lather their dangly arms and legs in sunscreen, and send them off to camp, with the anticipation of wrapping your arms around them at 3:00, after they disembark from the bus.

But the recession crushed your savings account and you've become a reluctant, yet brave, do-it-yourselfer. This year you've been thrust into a crucial and important position:  head counselor at Camp Mommy.  How will you survive the long slog of endless summer days with no structure, otherwise known as summer vacation?

I'm entering my 4th year at Camp Mommy, so I thought I'd share my tips:
  1. Enroll your children in the local library's summer reading program.  Don't tell your son that the flimsy, dog shaped pencil case he has to read 25 hours to get will probably split in two after its second use.  Instead, relish in the peace and quite as he voraciously reads, knowing his reading is good for both of you
  2. Join a pool and take the kids every day. If they begin to complain, tell them they can clean their rooms instead. They'll quickly wriggle into their suits, stretch their goggles over their heads and, with pool toys in hand, announce they are ready to go to the pool
  3. Find a grocery store that has carts shaped like cars. Never mind the food quality. Your kids will have so much fun "driving" the perimeter of the store that you may actually be able to savor the sample from aisle three
  4. Create a vegetable and herb garden the kids can tend.  Send them outside to test the soil, weed, water, and harvest your vegetables each day.  The heady temptation of playing with the dirt and water at their fingertips will be irresistible,  and it will occupy them for at least 30 minutes
  5. When your children jump on you at 6:30 in the morning, throw on some sweats and take them, in their pajamas, to your favorite cafĂ©.  Enjoy your fresh, dark brew, as they gobble up freshly baked cinnamon rolls
  6. Forget the gym.  You won't sweat in a Bikram yoga class or run on a treadmill to the beat of your favorite tunes until September. Plan to get your exercise with your children. Run after them as they bike around the neighborhood. Walk the dog. Hit the hiking trails around your neighborhood. Play soccer in the backyard
  7. When the children complain they're bored, create your own bootcamp. Take them through a series of jumping jacks, squats, lunges, sit-ups, and running drills. Chances are, you need to relieve some stress yourself: join them
  8. Prepare to burn the midnight oil. This week I tried to get work done during meals, because it was the only time my children closed their adorable, loquacious mouths for longer than 60 seconds. Of course, this left me ravenous, and I was mocked at the dinner table when I inhaled my meal before my mother had even taken one bite of hers. It may not sound appealing, but working before the children get up and after they go to sleep is probably most efficient.  You can do it for 10 weeks
  9. Enjoy the unique aspects of summer. Bike to the ice cream shop after dinner. Buy lemons in bulk and make homemade lemonade. Slurp popsicles on a  90° day. Run through the sprinklers at night. Catch lightning bugs.
  10. Prepare to be exhausted. And despite the stress of holding the position of (Reluctant) Head Counselor, try to enjoy the busy, crazy summer. I hope you have a great one, which progresses from limping along, to sprinting toward September 

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