Stacey Gill is freelance writer and award-winning journalist whose work has appeared on The Huffington Post, Mamapedia, Mamalode, and Aiming Low. She is the proud founder of the Detached Parenting Movement, a child-rearing model she single-handedly developed without any guidance or advanced degrees in child psychology. Learn about all her ingenious ideas on her blog, OneFunnyMotha, where she provides incisive cultural commentary also known as common sense.

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The End is Near (of Summer Camp, That Is)

Friends, I am deeply troubled. Camp is almost over. And I fear it.

This realization gripped me early one morning as I dozed in bed, causing my heart to seize and my throat to constrict. I bolted upright, clutching my throat, and sat panting in bed, wide-eyed and wondering how in the hell I was going to survive the final countdown to fall. Since then, I’ve lived with a terror that has intensified with each day that draws nearer to the end of camp.

I paid for camp right up until the bitter end, but this camp – the one I considered my friend, my partner and my salvation – closes up shop in early August. That leaves me with four weeks to fill. FOUR. That’s a whole month for those of you who aren’t good with math, and I have no idea how I am going to keep my kids off the sauce (and by sauce I mean the electronics to which they are addicted) while still maintaining my sanity and some degree of office hours. It seems a mutually exclusive situation.

Still, I will try. Because that’s the kind of person I am. Also, I have no choice.

I’ve devised a plan to get a handle on this rather generous lump sum of quality time with the kids I’ve been given and because that was the only way to stop the night terrors. Although I was never one to follow strict schedules when my children were small and super glued to my thighs and I never completely adhered the doctrines of the plan-tastic Super Nanny because I wasn’t disciplined enough, I always followed some semblance of a routine. But I now find I have an overwhelming need for a well organized, highly regimented, smooth running schedule. It’s for our survival.

So come next week I’m launching Mommy Day Camp. Starting every morning promptly at 8:00 A.M. I will march into the children’s room, stand at attention and awaken the them with the strident yet cheerful blasts of a bugle (note to self: Get bugle). Once out of bed they will dine, dress and generally ready themselves. Then it’s onto the MDC summer reading program followed by the writing workshop (in genre of their choice) and rounded out with a math games unit before participation in the camp’s mandatory music appreciation program. This portion of camp is where the kids dig out their rusty guitars from under piles of wet towels and bathing suits, which have been amassing in their rooms all summer long, and practice their instruments for 20 minutes a day or an eternity depending on whom you ask.

Kids in Kiddie Pool

image source: adwriter

That should bring us to approximately 9:30 A.M., and that’s where I get lost. I’m about out of ideas, and I still have 12 more hours to go. I know I’ve managed it before, and I know I will again summon the strength to get through these trying times, still I worry. Because if I don’t keep my kids busy, their brains tend to rot out of their heads and if I do keep them busy my work tends to suffer. I.e. doesn’t get done.

All I really need to do is make it till noon when the community pool opens, which is where I’ll be stationed every day from 12:00 to 4:00, rain or shine, until school reopens. After 4:00, the typical end of the camp day, the kids are on their own. I don’t care if they watch T.V. or play DS for the next 5 hours straight. I’ve done my part. So that gives me a full two hours before preparing dinner to get all the work I normally do in 7 hours done. Sounds reasonable.

This camp schedule isn’t completely nailed down so I might be able to squeeze in an extra 5 minutes of work time here or there. The thing is I’ve never been able to artfully combine the demands of work with the demands of raising kids. I like both, but I’m only able to do one at a time. And, typically, while I’m doing one, I’m worrying about the other. I’m never completely at ease in either.

In these remaining weeks of summer, I’d like to be able to enjoy a little time off with the kids, but I’m also always chronically low on time. Maybe this is the summer I’ll finally strike the right balance. Or maybe, and more likely, I won’t. But I’ll get by. Somehow I always do, and I think Mommy Day Camp is a step in the right direction. But, Lord, how I miss the kids’ camp already.

What do you plan to do with your kids in the final weeks of summer? And have you ever found the balance?


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Comments (20)

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  3. Lisa 08/14/2013 at 2:47 pm

    Wine, dance parties, wine, art projects, champagne, kids organize toys, wine, kids cook dinner, sip the last of whatever is fermented, kids put mom to bed. I don’t know what else to tell you. Camp is over for us, too:(.

    • staceygill 08/14/2013 at 8:22 pm

      Now this is advice I could use. I’m gonna have to use this for at least 3 out of the 4 weeks. Thanks so much for the great ideas.

  4. Frankie Lawson 08/13/2013 at 11:53 am

    I booked my son in summer camp every other week this summer, including the last week before school starts.

    Will there be any arts & crafts activities for Mommy Day Camp? My kids can go quite awhile with only construction paper, scissors, markers, and glue. This of course goes best outdoors.

    Also, my kids love to play with water. Give them a few bowls, some soap, and have them do a car wash with their toy cars, ride-on cars, whatever they can find that can get wet.

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  6. TK 08/12/2013 at 5:03 am

    All the best with Mommy Day Camp! I’m still reveling in the bliss of raising a toddler!

  7. Norine of Science of Parenthood 08/11/2013 at 11:21 am

    Oy! I can’t believe I screwed this up twice! Forgive the multiple posts. I am totally with you on this one. Our camp ended last week, one week before school starts. I was in total panic over what to do with the kiddo till a mom friend clued me to a city camp that runs through next week. I signed him up immediately. Naturally, he spiked a fever last night … which means he’ll be home at least on Monday. Sigh.
    Hang in. And maybe check out the mulitplex.

  8. Norine of Science of Parenthood 08/11/2013 at 11:11 am


  9. Keesha 08/10/2013 at 12:12 pm

    I think I am doing MDC daily. Then a failed play date or a slow kid throws a wrench in my plans and I am more thwarted than a marine sergeant demoted to herding cats.

  10. One Classy Motha 08/10/2013 at 10:13 am

    Congrats on the gig, lady!!! They’re lucky to have you!

    Well, you can always head over to my blog and grab some “Camp Cheapo” ideas. They’re poorly planned activities requiring nothing more than a trip to the dollar store and most of your dignity.

    Good luck and hang in there!

  11. Jessica 08/09/2013 at 8:13 pm

    Like you, I am unable to do both things at once. I can’t manage to be mutually good at mommy-ing AND at all the other junk I’m supposed to be doing without having some sort of transition. I think the transition actually IS the sauce. I’m not sure, but it could be…

    And now, a moment of silence for the end of summer camp…

  12. Kristi 08/09/2013 at 5:56 pm

    Whyohwhy has this post not gone viral?!? “Keeping kids off the ‘sauce'”?? Hilarious!!! And all to relatable. (Sauce meaning electronics, of course)
    PS: our kids camp WAS electronics. I’ll take that MOTY award now.

    • staceygill 08/09/2013 at 6:03 pm

      Kristi, I think I love you. Thank you for your kind words. I need that today. Actually, I need that every day, but I’ll take it where I can get it. I also need your help b/c my kids are now officially done w/ camp.

  13. Dani Ryan 08/09/2013 at 2:22 pm

    I have yet to experience the bliss that is school and summer camp. I’m still in the phase of having a toddler attached to my legs 24/7. You get used to it. Wine helps. 🙂

    • staceygill 08/09/2013 at 6:05 pm

      I’ll give wine a go then. I’m open to all suggestions.

  14. Erica of Nannypology 08/09/2013 at 1:34 pm

    TERRIFYING! Aren’t summer camps the BEST? The kiddos I watch aren’t in sleep-away camp but they’re in several different day camps all summer. There’s been a few “down weeks” and they’re terrible. I literally want to scratch my ears, eyes, and… teeth out! Somehow having no teeth might make it better. Somehow.
    Good luck, it seems like you’ve got great intentions!

  15. Julia 08/09/2013 at 1:34 pm

    My husband and I are just counting down the days until the first day of school (Aug 27)…it’s going to heaven!
    Basically, my kids (4 of them, ages 8-14) have been lazy louts all summer long and balk at having to play outside or get off of their electronics (which I do make them do although it usually ends up as more of a headache for me).
    So, all that to say, I don’t have any real advice. I just get by and look forward to when I force them to go to their rooms for the night so I can escape to mine. Oh, the husband and I have a mini celebration as each weekend nears as this signals another week down!

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