Summer is here. It seems that only yesterday everyone headed off for the new school year with new clothes, new school supplies, and new expectations. Now summer looms ahead.
In the past, I struggled to find the best childcare for the summer. I worked through June and then started up again in early August. I wanted my kids to have good summer activities and the best experiences possible.
I tried different programs for the kids. We saved all year, so each kid could have at least a week of summer camp. From gymnastics camp to church camp, we were lucky to find safe, accepting programs.
A week of camp didn’t provide all the childcare the kids needed. I also had to find daycare options. Not all programs were equal. Our private school had a summer program that worked well for several summers.
One summer, we tried a popular program that’s been around for years. I think it was probably fine for most kids. But my child, Brendan, who has Asperger Syndrome, found it too loud, too unstructured, and just overwhelming. I would find him hiding in a corner or under the stairwell, just trying to stay out of the chaos.
One program that worked was “Brighton Center Inclusive Childcare” here in San Antonio. Brendan had great experiences there. He fit in with the other kids. He made great friends and there was a structure that worked with his personality.
I was relieved when my daughter was old enough to be the official family sitter. Brendan felt safe at home. Katelyn loved getting paid and everyone in the family had much less stress.
July was another story. Mom was home. We stayed home a bit. My kids felt that summer was just too boring. The “I’m bored”, and “there’s nothing to do” became a constant mantra for each of them. I got so tired of hearing the whining. I came up with (I thought) an ingenious idea. I found a large dusty old jar, cleaned it up and started filling it with small pieces of paper.
Each had an “I’m bored” solution. Some of the papers had chores, like watering the plants, bathing the dog, or washing the car. For a change-up, I added a trip to the library, a movie, shopping trip, or an outing to the park.
Every time the “bored” word was uttered, the guilty party had to pick from the jar. The Bored Jar became a great hit…with me, at least. It did accomplish its purpose. The “I’m bored” and “there’s nothing to do” statements came fewer and farther between. The kids got more creative in finding things to keep themselves busy and my sanity was restored.
I miss those days. Kids are scattered, and summers aren’t so different from other times of the year. I imagine those whiney voices. How quickly they faded away.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.