For California mom Jessica Gottlieb, summer means plenty of beach time, surf and tennis camps, and most importantly, the chance for her kids to get a little bored. This mom of two talks to Care.com about why summer shouldn't be about schedules and why vacations should be planned for everyone - even Mom!
Tell us about your family. How many kids do you have? What are their ages? What are their personalities like?
I have a son and a daughter. Jane is 13 and Alexander is 10. They're both tender children who lean towards altruism. They love sports and their friends. We just got them a trampoline and typically they can be found there.
What were your childhood summers like? Did you go to camp? Tell us about it.
Summers were a good mix for us. My mother lived on the beach and some of my best summers were spent wasting time on the beach playing volleyball all morning and napping all afternoon while turning crispy brown. Some of the summer we'd spend in Los Angeles and we went to camp. I loved camp, and the skills I developed in camp carried into adulthood.
How early do you start planning for summer?
In mid-January, the earliest camp sign-ups begin. Sports camps typically start sign ups on February 1. I hear they sell out quickly and we're always signed up on the first possible day. If my son didn't get his tennis camp and my daughter didn't get into her surf camp, they'd be mighty annoyed.
How does your family schedule change in the summer?
What schedule? I love summer for its lack of schedule. Rather than an 8am start time, camp is about 9am and it's done pretty early too. Afternoons are spent with friends or lounging in the pool. I love the slow pace of summer and seldom work at all during the summer months.
What are some of the challenges you face when school's out for summer?
Sloth. I get nothing done. It used to feel like a challenge, now it's just a way of life.
What are some of your go-to summer activities?
When it's just too hot to be outside, we'll go bowling, but most free days are led by the kids. Depending on who they want to play with, we'll gear the activity appropriately. We have lots of beach days and just as many hanging around the neighborhood days. The kids have camp, I don't feel pressure to fill every moment of the afternoons and weekends.
What are some great free (or semi-free) activities to do with your kids during the summer?
The beach is always free, we also play tennis, which is close to free. I can kill four hours by dragging them to any decently-sized park and setting them loose. The less structured the activity is, the more time it will take.
Just let kids play. They'll be fine.
Do you have goals for your kids for the summer?
I want them to have 60 minutes or less screen time each day. I also want them to have time to feel bored and know what it's like to entertain yourself.
Summer is high season for family travel. What are some tips you can give our readers about how to travel with kids?
When you plan your trip, plan it for everyone. Ask the kids where they'd like to go. Also, we always have a separated adult and child's room. It's just not a vacation if there's a kid in my room.
Jessica Gottlieb resides in Los Angeles with her husband, two kids, dog and cat. She keeps busy blogging and has been seen on Dr. Phil, the CBS Evening News, CNN, Fox and Friends and the Daily Show...just to name a few. She has been mentioned in publications such as the LA Times, NY Times and The Wall Street Journal. You can find Jessica on Twitter and Facebook.
Photo used with permission from Jessica Gottlieb.