Working Moms: What Do You Do with Your Kids in the Summer?

Updated on August 07, 2013
M.S. asks from Geneva, IL
25 answers

I've been working PT, but currently looking for a FT job. What do you do with your kids all summer? Various camps? Hire a college student? At what age do you leave them home alone? Do you worry when they are older that they will hang out with the wrong type of kids because others find out when a parent is not home? My kids are 7 & 9 currently. Thanks!

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answers from New York on

I work but we have a nanny. I still put my kids in some camp though. Typically just a morning one vs all day. But I have friends who find a college student to pick their kids up from camp so they don't have to stay all day. ironically, I may not be working by next summer and my kids have LOVED all their camps so much that I'm thinking I have to budget for some camp again. So while all day camp every day all summer probably can get tiring for the kids, there are some great camps out there. The variety around us is mind boggling and like I said, my kids have loved them. I don't know how we'll narrow it down next year...

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answers from Grand Forks on

I do not work, but my friends who do will put their kids in a variety of different day camps and sleep away camps. They usually do a week or two at each camp to keep it interesting. They often start to let them stay home at 12 or 13 and some get their young teens volunteer positions at the camps or elsewhere to keep them out of trouble.

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answers from Chicago on

We hire a nanny for the summer (and all year around actually). she drives to camp, gymnastics, the pool, etc.

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answers from Honolulu on

yes what a conundrum huh?

With with my friends that work full time year round:

-they have their kids in summer programs, back to back. When one ends, then they are in another program etc. until school starts. Yes, it costs, bucks. Some cost a LOT of money.
Not cheap, at least in my city.
- or, if they have a middle school or high school kid, they have their Teen be a volunteer "Youth Leader" at some YMCA or city based summer program. That way, they are busy all day doing something for others and helping other kids.
- or, they have family/relatives watch their children. All summer.

-even if a kid is older, it does not mean, they can stay home by themselves, all, day, long until you get home in the evening. Sure it depends on the kid. But it also depends on a lot of other aspects.
I know a Mom who has teens and they are home, alone, everyday, all day, even during the regular school year, and yes, during summer. They get bored out of their minds, they are socializing in ways the Mom does not know, they are not good influences on each other, especially the older one on the younger one, and they are just online or on some device most of the day. They look older than they are. They don't tell the Mom of course what they do all day. The Mom comes home at night.
But I know what they do, because one of the girls talks about it in school and "vents" and this was my daughter's classmate. And my daughter tells me.

It really depends.
No matter how mature and good thinking my daughter's thought process are, I would not leave her at home alone, with my son, who is younger.
It has nothing to do with her age or ability. It has to do with my knowing how my son can be, that my daughter even if able, would get burnt out being a Big Sister babysitter and not having a fun summer, herself. And my son though a good normal kid, is a typical, boy. FULL of energy and constant moving around. I get tired with him, I would not expect my daughter to be better than I at handling him. ALL day. Even if she can.
I would want my daughter to have a nice fun summer to herself and with friends, not it being spent babysitting her sibling. And being cooped up in the house, all day, everyday, until someone comes home from work in the evening.

I don't know what line of work you do, but some Moms at my kids' school, try to get a job at, their kids' school. That way, they are on the same calendar/holidays as their kids. And they are off when their kids are off. At schools, depending on what position, you work year round for 12 months a year, or 10 months. And off during summers.
I work at my kids' school. Part time. This is why, I got a job at my kids' school.

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answers from San Francisco on

Since I can't afford "camps" for every week, I try to line things up with my sister and neice. I am successful for the most part. This summer she has only been "home" three days; the rest of the days I have managed to schedule something for her.

She goes to the community swimming pool on Thursdays. My mom drives her and drops her off. The summer camp kids go on Thursdays, so she's there with all of her friends. She spends some time with my mom as well.

Then there's vacation bible school. Any church close enough to get her there. She loves VBS!

On the rare day that I haven't figured something out for her, she does stay home alone. She is 11.5. I check in with her by phone every couple of hours; usually give her a chore or two to do; and encourage her to read or call and chat with friends on the phone. She has done quite well.

I do worry when she's at home. I don't allow her to just go outside to play so I don't worry about her hanging out with the wrong kids, but to be honest, we are fortunate enough to not have any "wrong kids" (that I know of) in our immediate neighborhood.

Summer vacation is the nightmare of ALL working parents. Can't wait for school to start. It takes a lot of time and energy to plan something for every day over the entire summer!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I have three kids, this summer they are 6, 8, and 10.

We started with two sitters, but one moved in early July so we just have the one, and we were up a creek without a paddle. But here's what our summer schedule looked like.

1st week - Vacation Bible School
2nd week - Swimming lessons
3rd and 4th weeks - vacation (time was split, so no camps)
5th week - Technology camp for the older two, youngest one went to his old babysitter for "camp" at her house
6th week - Swimming lessons
7th week - Vacation Bible School
8th week - NOTHING!!
9th week - Leadership camp for the oldest and nothing for the two younger ones

All of their camps and lessons were only in the morning, so the sitters would take them there and either stay or leave, depending on what it was (swimming they stayed, everything else they dropped off and had a few hours off).

Our sitter that we still have, also works a part-time job at a department store. So we have her 5 days a week, but not every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. When she has to go to work there, the 8 and 10 year old stay home alone and she drops the 6 year old off at his old daycare. I work 8 minutes from my house and go home for a late lunch to break up the time alone. So they have maybe 90 minutes at first and then 2 hours after lunch.

We have an interior camera so I can check on them and my daughter has a cell phone, both have ipods they can text on. We were nervous at first, but they've done it a total of 3 times this summer and they really enjoy the responsibility.

I would NOT leave your kids home all day every day, they get bored and have a stinky summer. So I'd try to find someone at least part-time or find a camp for them to go to. I'll probably have someone at least part-time until my oldest can drive.

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answers from Springfield on

There are a lot of Day Camps in our area. Kids can sign up for a week or two here or there, but truthfully, most of the kids are signed up for the entire summer. There are Day Camps through the Park District, the YMCA and some churches. I know in our school district, one of the churches has an after school program, so during the summer many of those kids also attend the summer camp. My boys go to a daycare center after school. I'm off for the summer (I teach), but many of those kids attend daycare during the summer. They treat the school age kids like campers and do outings as well as projects.

I suspect hiring a college student for the summer would be cheaper than a day camp or daycare center. Still, you might want to sign the kids up for a few things here and there, just to make the summer a little more interesting.

Vacation Bible Schools are a great option. They are really a lot of fun, and most churches offer them for free.

I don't think I would want my kids staying home alone for the summer at any age. It's just too boring. It might sound like fun for a day or two, but people need things to do. It does become difficult when they're 11 or 12. Camps stop being "fun" or become something just for little kids. That was when my mom signed us up to volunteer. I used to volunteer as a junior counselor at the YWCA's summer camp. My sister volunteered at Girl Scout camp. (Can't remember what my brother did.) When we were old enough we worked part-time jobs.

I don't want my kids to feel so scheduled that they can't enjoy their summers, but they really do need stuff to do.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Huntington on

I work from home full time. Last year I hired a teenager to come babysit. It worked out pretty well- it was not that expensive, the house stayed cleaner and the kids liked her a lot. I was a lot more productive.
This year, my oldest is 10 and I truly thought I could motivate him to take the lead by paying him to be in charge. We had a contract and everything. Things went okay for about 2 days. Mostly it has been a summer of Too Much TV. sigh.
Our summer is almost over- school starts in a week and a half. Next year I will be hiring a sitter.
I sure wish I could sent em to Grandmas for a few weeks- we would all love it- but the grandparents are all fairly young and have full time jobs!

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answers from Kansas City on

our daycare has a summer program for kids through age 12.

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answers from San Francisco on

Most working moms here send their kids to day camps/programs and/or hire a college student to nanny and drive them around.
My BFF sends her kids to the local YMCA summer program which is like a day camp and also includes outings, swim lessons and field trips.
Around here, it's somewhat normal for kids to be home "alone" during the summer after 8th grade, but most of us keep our kids busy by dropping them at the pool, and/or having them enrolled in sports, academic and/or art and classes/lessons, so they're not REALLY home alone all day. When they're 15 they can get certain part time jobs too.
You just make it work.



answers from Pittsburgh on

We hire a nanny for the summer. Last year it was a college student who was home, this year a teacher who was off for the summer. We join the local pool and buy a science center membership so they have something to do if it's nice or if it rains. It's worked out great for us.

I LOVE it. No morning dropoffs. Kids can sleep in if they want. She takes them swimming, to the science center, and also to the library, the local park. If a SAHM invites one of them over for a play date, she drops off and picks up.



answers from Chicago on

Hi M. - I am in St. Charles. Geneva and St. Charles both have great summer camps through the park districts. I don't know about Geneva, but St. Charles camp runs 9-3, and they have before and after camp that you can add so they can go 7:15-6:00. This is the second year my daughter has been doing the camp and LOVES it and they keep the kids BUSY. She is always exhausted at the end of the day.

The one great thing about the St. Charles program is that they offer programs as they get older, including a Counselor in Training progam (I think starts in sixth grade) which puts them in line to get actual counselor positions when they are older. PM if you have any questions.



answers from Boston on

Mine are 7, 9, 15 & 15 (step-twins). It's something different every summer.

For three years when my younger sons were babies and the older kids were in school, we alternated between my mom (2-3 days a week) and a sitter and/or daycare on the other days. I eventually negotiated a deal where I could work from home 3 days a week so for a few years, on the days that I worked from home the older kids were home with me and the youngers were in daycare and on my office days, they all went to my mother's house.

For the past two summers, they were all home with me on my work at home days (I was careful to plan lots of playdates for those days to keep them busy, plus I have two teenagers who can be my helpers) and then I had a college student here on the days I go into the office.

This summer, our college sitter isn't available so we've mixed it up again - the little boys have had a week of recreation camp, a week of swim/dive camp, a week of hip--hope/theater camp, and they'll go to VBS next week. The camp-free weeks are filled with play dates and I try to get a sitter when I go into the office. I really try to not leave the little ones at home with teenage siblings all day because the older ones ignore or torture the younger ones. One of my older kids has a job so he's not home often anyway. If the other one actually baby-sits them, we pay her. One of the camps was close enough to our house that one of the olders could walk to pick up the youngers at the end of the day so I could go into the office all day but on other days where camp ended earlier than I get out of work, I either had to leave work early, get a sitter to pick them up, or have them go home with a friend.

The problem with a lot of camps is that they go from 9-3 and many don't offer extended days. The one around here that offers bus transportation and extended hours (and is far and away the best camp) is close to $4000 for 8 weeks, which is waaaayyyyy out of our price range. I do know a lot of people who go that route and simply save up for it all year, but many other parents I know cobble together a patchwork of relatives, camps, baby-sitters, and vacation or work at home days.



answers from Detroit on

I work part time..(2 days a week).. I took mine to a mom friend who had a boy my sons age and a girl my daughters age.. we did that for 3 weeks.. then they went to a week of swim class.. a week of vacation bible school and we took a week of vacation.I had a babysitter drive them to the activites when I wasn't home.

They are now in a child care center summer program. It is reasonably priced.. and several days a week they have a special event.. (sprinkler day, a craft person to come in and do a special craft activity.. a gymnastics day..

There are lots of summer camp programs out there. I would try to mix it up a bit as most summer camp programs can get boring if they are there all day every day all summer. the stay at home mom thing is great. kids have fun with other kids...



answers from Orlando on

different summer camps, rearranging schedules so she can spend a little time at home ...... and vacation days (for me) so I can be home with her. she never stays home alone. she is 10, almost 11. maybe for like 20-30 min at a time but never while i am at work. i work 30-45 min away from the house.



answers from Chicago on

Fox Valley P.D. has some kids camp programs that run all summer. They are pricey but seem to be very good.

I would never leave my kids home alone all day unattended. Of course kids will get into mischief, their curiosity will get the best of them.

Can you alternate with putting them in summer camps and find a SAHM to watch them too? If you need referrals, let me know, I know the area and SAHM's near you.



answers from Burlington on

Like a lot of the other mamas, we use day camps. Most years I scheduled them for back to back camps, plus usually two weeks where we were on vacation and my MIL would take them for a week here and a week there or fill in on weeks where I only need maybe 3 days of coverage and didn't want to pay for 5 days of camp. The local park & rec dept has a wonderful generic-type day camp as well as a huge variety of more specialized ones. My kids did the generic one (they actually had 2, one for the younger kids and one for the older ones where they would bike ride to a nearby lake, etc), and they did archery, a rock climbing/ropes course one, pottery making, singing, videography, "flip, dance & cheer", as well as the Girl Scout camp, and one through the gymnastics place where my younger daughter takes lessons. This summer, they are older (12 and 14) so camps aren't so interesting anymore. My older daughter only did 2 weeks of Girl Scout camp, but this time she did it as a Jr. Counselor instead of a camper and she got a lot out of it (plus it only cost us $40 for the two weeks!). My younger one did one week of ropes course camp and two weeks of gymnastics and the rest of the summer they have stayed home together or we'll be on vacation. My older one also spent a week in Maine with her aunt and uncle. Last year was the hardest because my oldest wasn't old enough to be a Jr. Counselor, and I didn't feel they were quite ready to stay home every day for a whole week by themselves, but camps were getting boring. My MIL helped out a lot that year. This year's better (and cheaper!) since I feel more comfortable leaving them home together. I always have them call me at work mid-morning and I give them each a list of chores to do, some individually and some together. It works out well. They get to sleep in, I can drive straight to work, they have chores to fill some of their time with and I come home to a cleaner house! This week my youngest is at camp, so my oldest is home all by herself so I printed out the drivers manual and gave it to her to study! She's been totally absorbed in it and highlighting all the important parts so she can get her permit in March! Yikes! I am, though, looking forward to her being able to get a summer job in a couple years! Nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel!



answers from Oklahoma City on

Kids under 10 years of age should go to child care. They have good programs for them and keep them busy.

Kids that are 10-12 can go to various programs that allow them to be in care but in a teachers aide sort of care. They aren't a little kid but can be a teachers helper.

Kids that are 12 are legally old enough to babysit since they can take the Red Cross babysitters class to get certified. So by the time they're 12 they should have started having home alone time and they should have learned to stay home alone. If they are immature and not able to watch themselves then I'd have a couple of friends lined up and have them go to that friends house for the day or to grandma's, cousin's, any sort of responsible person.

I certainly hope that by the time my grand kids get to be 12 they can stay home alone if they want to. I plan on starting home alone training when they turn 10. There are many stages they have to get through successfully before I'll let them do it for more than a half hour or so. Once they can do that successfully many times they can have more responsibility.



answers from Chicago on

Hi M.,
I know exactly how you feel. These were my own questions about my children just three years ago. I have a 13 year old and a 11 year old. Before they were 10 years old, they went to summer day camps. They went on field trips and went swimming during the time they were at these facilities. They also went on cub scout camps too, but I usually went with them on those. My oldest had a fall out with a day care provider where she literally screamed in his face only to ask a simple question. This was during the school year at the day before Christmas break. He was crying and told me that he will never set foot in the day care again. Note: His day care provider for after school is different from his summer camps provider, because at the time they didn't have buses to pick him up from school. So, at the time he crossed-over as a Boy Scout, I told him if he could follow the rules, he didn't have to go to day care. Rules were: don't go outside when no one was home, do your homework after school, no friends when no adults are at home, no answering the phone or doorbell unless it was us, and microwave cooking only. He did great so he stayed home first while his brother continued with day care. I also first left him alone for an hour and then built it up until he was ready too. My state has no set rules on what age, but as long as I felt he was responsibile, he started at 10 years old, because of his maturity. Another rule was to call when he got home with school. After he stayed home during the school year, he didn't want to go to summer day camp anymore. So my mom watched them during the summer months until my oldest was 11. My youngest started at 9 years old just because since his older brother didn't have too, but the rules still applied. He was actually better than his brother. But, I started out with after school first then slowly went to summer. My oldest knew how to cook at 12 so he did babysat for his 10 year old brother at the time. Now my kids are almost 13 and 11 years old and have been staying home for 2 years in the summer. My almost 13 year old has a summer job as a caddy, and they also go on Boy Scout campouts during the summer for a week. Remember, I started out with baby steps until they earned my trust. My husband also changed jobs so his off days are Tuesday and Wednesday so my kids aren't alone the whole week. Good luck, I was a nervous wreck during those times, but check your state laws too. Illinois law does have age 16 to stay home alone.



answers from Phoenix on

Unfortunately I have to put my 2 boys in school age daycare at Tutor Time, which is where my 4 year old goes everyday. They were 6.5 and nearly 9 this summer. It's an arm and a leg and I only work about 5.5 hours a day. They did get to go on a few field trips while they were there, which was cool. My 12.5 year old step son stayed home when we went to work. He's pretty responsible so we aren't too worried about him. For my 10.5 & 6.5 year old step daughters, they'd go to their moms house while we were at work since she's a teacher and was off all summer. I'd pick them up after I got off work. I think you have a few years before you can leave yours home alone during the summer.



answers from Chicago on

My kids are young 2& 5 (on friday) so they go to my 2 year olds day care in the summer. They have swimming lessons in the beginning of the summer June and July, then Aug full time in daycare. (swim lessons they go to my moms).

There are a lot of summer programs/daycamps where they take them swimming and bowling, baseball games etc..

Good luck



answers from Las Vegas on

At 7 & 9 years old, I would put them in camp. My daughter goes to the YMCA. With two children, they can be twice as safe or get in twice the trouble.


answers from Washington DC on

Mine are 11 and 13. I work from home.

They go swimming.
Have friends over.
Go to friends homes.

Baseball camp

My oldest son was doing a Science Mentoring project for 2 weeks. He earned all of his volunteer hours for the year in those 2 weeks and had a blast!!

Since summer is almost over? They are spending 3 weeks at their grandparents house in California...and having a blast!



answers from San Francisco on

Most people I know do a combination of camps, babysitters and on-campus day care (the same as before and after school during the year is offered throughout the summer). We have a ton of camps to choose from here, some are full day and others are half day. Those who only go have day usually have a nanny for the afternoons. With kids 7 and 9, I think a college student would be perfect.


answers from Phoenix on

We paid for Boys and Girls Club but it was $85 per week, per kid. This year we just put my son in and it's gone up to $100 per week. My 13 yo stays home. There also was a local "Karate Kamp" that was pretty expensive but was all day like B/G Club is. Good luck.

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