Your Kids, and Your Summer Budget

By Susan Bartell, Psy.D

The end of the school year is fast approaching and I’m getting anxious! I can’t afford full time camp this summer, and although I love my kids (ages 7 and 10), being with them full time—I mean 24/7—will be stressful for me. Am I a bad mom for feeling this way? Do you have any suggestions to help? Thanks!
—Soon-To-Be Camp Mom


To begin, NO guilt! It’s a depleting emotion that will surely exhaust you. It also detracts from your ability to see the situation clearly.

You’re not a bad mom simply because you recognize that you will need a break from your kids this summer. In fact, that makes you a good mom! Parenting is an incredibly challenging job—the most difficult, in my book. It’s impossible to be ‘on’ all the time.

During the school year, you get a significant break while your children are at school. That’s the beauty of free education. It may not be possible to re-create this completely for the summer months, so it’s understandable that you’re feeling a little worried about your sanity! However, some creativity should get you a break. I strongly recommend that you try all or some of these as they fit your lifestyle!

Find a teenage babysitter who is looking to make some extra money.
Hire her or him for three or four hours once a week—this will give you immediate relief to which you can look forward.

Arrange to trade off kids with a friend once or twice a week.
It’s a great deal for the kids and the adults. The kids get a friend to play with and the adults get some child-free time. In fact, even if you can’t switch off, keeping your kids busy with friends is an excellent way to buy you some down-time. But I have a rule for kids older than about five-years—if the play-date requires more than minimal intervention from me (a snack, a band aid), it’s not a good one. The “we’re bored, what should we do, you entertain us” variety of play-dates don’t get an invitation back anytime soon!

Look in your local paper and parenting magazine for free and low-cost, child-friendly activities.
Museums have free days at least once a month. Bookstores, libraries, pools and beaches are fun and free all the time.  You can take a few deep breaths while your kids are not only being occupied, but learning. What could be better?

Be prepared with a few DVD’s of movies that your kids have been nagging to see.
Have these ready for rainy days, or evenings when you’re especially tired. Don’t forget the popcorn…

Plan each day.
The less you plan, the more your kids will nag you and bicker with each other—boredom does that to kids! So, Getting everyone up and off to the beach, pool, or park for the day will make the days go faster and more smoothly than just lounging around at home.


More Great SMW Articles

How to Choose Your Child’s Summer Camp

Top 25 Cost Savers for Single Moms

Summertime Staycations for Single Moms and Their Kids

Dr. Susan Bartell is a nationally recognized psychologist and award-winning author who has been helping children, teens and families lead healthier, happier lives for over fifteen years. She is the author of four books: Dr. Susan’s Kids-Only Weight Loss Guide: The Parent’s Action Plan for Success; Dr. Susan’s Girls-Only Weight Loss Guide: The Easy, Fun way to Look and Feel Good!, and Stepliving for Teens: Getting Along with Parents, Stepparents, and Siblings; and Mommy or Daddy: Whose Side am I On?

You can reach Dr. Susan at her website: