What the heck is Plan-uary? For working parents of school-age children, it’s planning and booking your entire summer. This means all the summer camps your kiddos will attend, every vacation you want to take, how you will pay for everything (day camps cost about $325/week in Denver), and who will provide back up childcare. It’s the biggest test of your project management skills and your resolve after the holidays, and it feels like a cruel joke. If you thought summer would be laidback and flexible, throw that idea out the window, and put on your stripped, Type A sweater.
You can do this. Here are 5 tips to survive.
Freak out now
You know you want to so give in. This is not the time to internalize and push your feelings down deep. You want to bring the anxiety and stress to the surface now so you can process them and develop coping strategies. When Denver area summer camps open for registration and you start receiving emails with discount codes, you need to be ready. Deal with your feelings now so you don’t have to later.
Compile your kiddo’s complete medical history
Does your child have asthma? Need an EpiPen? Sneezed too hard last week. Write it all down. Summer camps need your kiddo’s immunization status, allergy information, and other pertinent health data. They also need to know your favorite hospital, dentist, and pediatrician. If you want to make sure your child is well cared for at summer camp, then start a file. It’s better to compile it all early instead of researching the nearest hospital each time you complete the registration paperwork.
Decide when you would like to vacation
Depending on your level of conscientiousness you can also decide the “where” but the important part for summer camp registration is the “when”. You don’t want to schedule a week of summer camp when you were supposed to attend a family reunion. So, make sure you’ve called all your relatives, college roommates, and best friends from 5th grade to disavow the concept of a spontaneous visit by you or them. Remember, you have your type A sweater on so use its power. Refund policies vary by summer camp but typically you loose at least a percentage of your payment.
Start a group text to your mom squad
This is for planning and complaining. You won’t do this alone. If you want your kids to attend summer camp with a friend (and usually the kids insist on this), you'll need to coordinate with other families’ summer plans. (See strategy 3) I recommend a shared spreadsheet as well to help keep everyone on the same page.
Request time off from work
This is not for summer vacation. This is for summer camp planning and research. It takes hours to plan, search, coordinate, and book summer camps and you can’t do it all on nights and weekends. You will need to take some "work time" to get your summer camp plan in order.
Camp Sidekick can help by creating a customized plan to fit your family’s needs and provides a list of summer camp sessions but the rest you need to do yourself.
Do you have other survival strategies? Share them in the comments below.