I feel a bit trapped right now. Linda and I are changing our parenting time arrangements so that all the kids are with her some days and then they’re all with me on other days. If you’ve read parenting post divorce type books, we’re probably going to be moving to a 2-5-5-2 arrangement. Prior to this we had a more complicated 2-2-2-1 sort of arrangement, staggered, so that each child had solo time with each of us every week. Too many darn transitions, though, so we’re moving to a more normal, more common arrangement.
The question that looms before me now, however, is: what happens during the summer? As regular readers know, we have an 11yo girl, an 8yo boy and a 4yo girl and even during the school year, it’s very tough when I have all three because the 4yo gets out of school at 12:30, so I end up with half-days of work unless I can arrange play dates or other afternoon activities for her. Worth noting is that our two houses are just barely more than a mile apart, so there’s no distance or travel involved and the kids can easily keep all the same friends and social activities in either residence.
But summer vacation, stretching out a long twelve weeks, suddenly seems overwhelming to me because the days that I have the kids, I’m now thinking I will have to not work at all, effectively axing my available work hours by 50%, with a commensurate hit on my income.
When I was a kid, we just wandered off and did our own thing during the summer, and I went to some summer camps, etc., but we’re in a different world and it seems somehow more risky and less appropriate to leave the kids to their own devices for weeks on end, even if I were working at home. And leaving them home solo sounds like the path to major trouble.
I figure summer camps, between sports, horses and other themes, would work great, sprinkled with time with friends and perhaps a few short trips, but while I have talked with the kids and they’ve each expressed interest in different thematic summer camp activities, Linda tells me that she’s talked to them and none of them want to do summer camp at all. They all just want to hang around the house and do as little as possible.
Hence my dilemma.
We’re still getting the hang of this solo parenting thing — and it’s a bear with three small children, I’ll tell you — but what I’m unclear on is whether it’s acceptable for me to simply make summer activity decisions for my children based on my discussions with them that indicated they are interested in some activities, or whether I am supposed to either expect that they’ll spend more time with Mom, who doesn’t work and can easily take the entire summer off to parent, or whether I should be anticipating a summer where I essentially only work every other week?
Single dads, single working moms, help me out here. What’s your best suggestion and how do you deal with summer holidays with your younger children?