Dear Sandra

Dear Sandra,

Please help! Summer is coming and my kids (ages 7 & 10) will be home for two whole months. How am I going to get any studying done? I need to keep them out of my hair. I’ve been so used to my 8 hours of peace a day that I now don’t know how I’ll cope.

Afraid of her own children in Ontario

Dear Afraid,

Every parent dreads summer holidays. Either you have to have them home 24 hours a day for two months listening constantly to “I’m bored” or “He’s bugging me” OR you have to find somewhere for them to go.

I highly recommend camp. For a whole week a group of teenagers entertain your child with fun and educational activities, and the bonus is they are gone that whole week!! The down part is that camp usually only lasts a week. There are such a variety of camps now; when I was younger the only option was church camp. My family was not religious but we all went to the Baptist camp and the Lutheran camp. Now depending on where you live you can attend everything from adventure camps to Harry Potter camps. If your children, or you for that matter, are not ready to spend a week apart with people they hardly know, day camp is another option. YMCA’s, gymnastic organizations, libraries, sports organizations, music clubs, zoos, museums and churches put on week long day camps similar to your regular 8 hour school day filled with interesting activities and tons of other kids for your children to socialize with. A downfall to any type of camp is they usually cost money, anywhere from $5 a week to $150 a week. If cost is an issue, ask if they offer subsidies.

Your children (and you) probably won’t be so lucky as to get to spend every week of their summer in a fun day camp, so when they are at home try some of these ideas:

1. Have them put on a play. Encourage them to recruit the neighbourhood kids to participate. Have them write the script, make the costumes, build the props, cast the actors and finally prepare for the performance. There will probably be a couple arguments you’ll have to break yourself away from your books to mediate, but the kids will learn to work together and will be sooo proud of their final performance. Have all the children invite their families and neighbours to attend the play.

2. Christmas in July. To ease up on the stress of December, start shopping and making crafts now. When the kids are complaining of boredom, give them some craft materials and put them to work. To work on handwriting skills have them address the envelopes for your Christmas cards and labels for the gifts. Of course in order to do this you need to be a cheap person like me who stocks up on Christmas items AFTER Christmas when they go on sale. You could even give them authority to plan a half-way to Christmas party, where little trinkets from the dollar store are exchanged and you have turkey sandwiches.

3. Journaling. After helping your child study all year for weekly spelling tests, keep their spelling skills sharp by doing family journals. Buy or make journals for the family and sit down and do entries in them together. These also turn out to be great keepsakes and the perfect way for a child to remember what they did all summer when teachers ask them that in September.

4. Have them become entrepreneurs. Who doesn’t remember selling Kool-aid on their corner or in their drive way as a kid? Kids don’t have to sell just Kool-aid; they can make up candy bags, small crafts or even an art show in their back yard for family, friends and neighbours. Children learn counting skills and the value of money.

5. Be Crazy. Give them crazy ideas that make them ask “Are you sure you are ok with us doing that”? Take some tempera paint and let them cover your sidewalk or driveway with foot prints, give them instructions for crazy science experiments (now is the time to let them get messy when it’s warm enough for the hose to clean them off). Let them paint old tables or chairs anyway they want or tye-dye old shirts or towels.

6. Make sure you have a sprinkler and a pool, or even better, a slip and slide. These are inexpensive items that can keep kids busy for hours. I’m amazed at how many times my 7 year old daughter and friends can run through our sprinkler. It sometimes feels like I’m watching dogs chase their tails.

Just remember summer with the kids is like childbirth, you just need to keep telling yourself that it has to end sometime. Here’s hoping you have a peaceful summer!



This column is for entertainment only. Sandra is not a professional counsellor, but is an AU student who would like to give personal advice about school and life to her peers. Please forward your questions to Sandra care of