What Do Working Parents Do with Their Older Kids During the Summer???

Updated on July 17, 2011
J.W. asks from Portland, OR
11 answers

So working moms, what do your kids do during the day when they're left home alone while you are off at work?? I have a 12 y/o stepdaughter who is home alone 3-4 days a week from about 8a-6p. Does anyone else out there have a similar situation? If so, what does your kid do all day long?? Mine is getting really lazy, but we don't have the option to take her to camps or drive her to midday classes or any of that other stuff that kids with a parent at home get to do. She's also not innately "active" and would never pick to go on a bike ride - she'd rather read a book or watch a movie. I need suggestions for things we can get her to do on her own or activities she can get to on her own. (middle SE Portland)

Side note: I know it's up to the parents to get their kids up and going, but she's only lived with us for a year so a lot of her habits were developed while living with her mom, we have a 2 year old that takes up a lot of our evening time after work, and this is the first summer that she isn't spending all of her time with her former partner in crime/older sister (who now has a babysitting gig that keeps her from being at our house every other week). She has made some friends in the area and is spending some time with them but that's usually just "hanging out" at the local school/park. And yes, she is safe.


1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers


answers from San Antonio on

my 9 yr old neice is at 'camp' which bores her like crazy. And it cost my brother $1700 for the summer.

My 12 yr old cousin volunteers at the library, shelving books, filing, whatever they need her to do.

Edit My Answer
3 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from New York on

When I was her age, I began cooking. I would bake cakes, bread, popcorn on the stove top and pies. I like all these things so it was fun to do even when the kitchen got as hot as the oven itself.

Try setting up a once a week scavenger hunt for her to do. This is going to be some work for you but some fun for her.

Another thing I was beginning to do at her age was my laundry. That would take up at least, 1 and 1/2 hours of my day. Naturally there was the dishes, after cooking my mother wanted the kitchen clean. I made the mess so I had to clean up the mess.

Give her some special project to work on, like journaling or writing a story of what fun things she would like to do.

I hope these suggestions help. It's tough when they have no where to go and no supervision and you still want the best for them.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

If she has a bike, she could ride to a community center. Look them up on Portland Parks and Recreation web site. There is a great one behind Mall 205.

The YMCA has camps for this age kid. It's called a Breakaway camp and they're held in public school property. It's an all day, every day camp. One of my granddaughter's 12 yo friend goes to the one at Laurelhurst School.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Syracuse on

At age 12, she could probably be an assistant counselor through the local recreation department, or maybe that could be something to look into for next summer...it's a fun way to keep busy, earn a little money and make friends. When I was that age, I rode my bike everywhere...we lived in a town where it was only a few miles to everything I needed to get to, or I could take the bus. In Portland,OR there's got to be things that a 12 year old can sign up for through a community center or rec program...art class, sailing class, archery, swimming, I'm sure there's something fun for her!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Just a thought: She hasn't been with you long...maybe work with her to see if she'd like to do something to personalize her room if she hasn't already? She could paint it, or if that's too active for her, she could stencil one wall with any cool design/colors she picks out, and then trim a lampshade with beads, fix up a matching trash can etc....American Girl Magazine and other "older" teen magazines have a lot of "fix up your room to reflect your style" kinds of articles. If she's not naturally "crafty," showing a bunch of those articles to her could get her interested. If she's still adjusting at all to being in your house, or she just says her space is dull, that could be a great summer project.

Alternatively, if she's motivated by money as many kids this age are, there surely are families around who would love a "mother's helper" or daytime sitter to play with younger kids while a stay at home parent gets some things done. I know I'd love to have a neighbor her age who was reliable and who could hang with my child while I work at home.

I also like someone's cooking idea -- maybe ask your SD to plan and make a few days' worth of dinners for all of you, and give her plenty of positive feedback about the results. Good skills for her if she finds it fun. I'd present the idea as a fun activity -- not as a chore, or she'd balk. Convince her that if she can learn to make five kinds of snacks (prepared ones, not out of bags!) that you'll let her have X number of friends over for a movie night and she can show off her snack skills to them!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

At this age I was also home all day. I started watching my younger cousins. I actually ran it like a day camp. Fist we would make a plan for meals and snacks for each day. Then we would plan 1 or 2 days visit to the library'
3 days at the public pool. The rest of the time we played board games etc.

In the evenings, my mom would sometimes take just me to the movies.
Or I would help her shop at the Mall. We went to museums at night which was cool. Sometimes, my mom sister and I would go to one of the natural pring fed pools here in Austin and Picnic and swim,

She always made sure even during the week, I was given some down time. I loved it when it was just me and her. Maybe her dad could take her 1 evening and you could take her another.

I do agree she could start meals for the family or make the main dish. I loved cooking and baking, So I loved cooking dinner on most nights.

Laundry is a no brainer. If she does her own she could do it once a week.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Camp(s)? There are all sort of camps here in the metro-Atlanta area. They have everything from sports, to arts, to acting, to painting, to science or whatever. How about your local YMCA or something similar or a church that has a summer camp?

My girls are much younger so it's a little difficult for me to say what I'd do with a 12 year old but I did tell my husband that if his daughter (who is also12) was to visit, she'd have to go to camp or he'd have to take time off from work.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My mom was a single working mother(in the military) and we worked in the summer from 7th grade (I was 13 though) on (DOD summer hire program). One year it was at the base library, as an office asst. I loved it, got money and built up some esteem. Could she work, if money is an issue, volunteer, or do an internship at a library, daycare, school, church, photography/graphics studio, bookstore? If no ones hiring then volunteer or be an intern for free at any of the above places. Hopefully there's something that is close. Also check Recreation department, local community college for classes or volunteer opportunities for teens.

When we weren't working for some reason then we had a neighbor keep an eye on us. She didn't stay in the house but was there if we needed her and would check on us a couple of times a day. Middle school aged teenagers can get into a lot of trouble on their own even responsible ones.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My kids are not that old, but I'm wondering if she's old enough to "volunteer" at the boys and girls club or another camp place. I know they often time use the older kids to help out with the younger kids, but I don't know how old the "older kids" have to be. If it were a camp environment, she might be able to go free or something. If she likes horses, you could try to contact royal ridges. It's in WA; don't know where you are located.



answers from New York on

Why can't she be in a camp? Some run all day from like 7 -6. Next year, she can be a CIT.



answers from Portland on

I'm not in your situation yet, but I will be. My plan is to involve my kids in picking their activities. I'm a "no TV" person, so that would have to be an "activity" that was planned and extremely limited (Like movie night once or twice a week). So what I plan on is finding a variety of activities that are going on, and having the kids pick, and getting the weeks scheduled out. I love the idea of volunteering at the library, or elsewhere that she might be interested in. One friend's daughter wants to be a vet, and they had her volunteering at the zoo (she was 13).

Next question: What to Do with My Daughter During Summer.