Summer “Vacation” for Parents: What’s That?!

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It’s August 1st, which means if you’re a parent of school-age children, you’ve had approximately 55 days of summer vacation.

 

Feeling rested? Refreshed? Invigorated?

 

We’re guessing the answer is most likely “No.” At least according to many parents, summer break can be an extremely challenging time. The cost of summer camps and care, piecing together weeks of varying schedules for different children, and the part that we’re particularly focused on at Pogo Rides–the nightmare of getting kids where they need to be and home again while keeping all the other balls in the air that parents juggle.

 

I don’t remember it be like this when I was growing up (I won’t say how many years ago that was). Summers were going to family camp, heading to the lake, playing kick-the-can with friends late into a warm summer night. There was no “rotation of camps” or lessons to rush off to. I will say that I was fortunate to have a stay-at-home parent which made this possible. I honestly don’t know how they did it and remained sane–I work from home and even with the kids in a few half-day camps, I’m going a tad bonkers myself. Apparently I’m not alone:

 

@LetMeStart If you’re wondering how awesome my summer break is going, my kid just found a harmonica.

@mommy_cusses Instructor: Welcome to our Summer with Kids Preparedness class. Our first lesson is how to apply sunscreen. Everyone grab an angry raccoon.

@ValeeGrrl If you think Twitter has tons of people craving attention & validation allow me to introduce you to kids doing tricks in a swimming pool.

 

Nowadays summer vacation for parents is not so simple–mostly because of the increasing cost of childcare. Heidi Stevens from the Chicago Tribune, wrote the piece “American parents are the unhappiest out of 22 countries” on a study done by the Council on Contemporary Families. They found that the policies put in place by our employers are the biggest influencers of parental happiness levels.

 

“What we found was astonishing,” wrote study authors Jennifer Glass, Robin Simon and Matthew Andersson. “The negative effects of parenthood on happiness were entirely explained by the presence or absence of social policies allowing parents to better combine paid work with family obligations. And this was true for both mothers and fathers.”

 

So the ability to have a flexible schedule to better navigate the summer is a key element of parental happiness, and unfortunately the reality is that we are “trying to raise children and earn a living in a country with zero weeks of guaranteed paid leave and child care that costs as much as college….”

 

This is something we have given much thought to over the past year and a half–how the Pogo app can support families by connecting them with affordable and reliable resources, in their own neighborhood, to help with transportation. This enables parents to continue to work–or–allows parents who have a more flexible schedule to make some extra money while helping out their community. To us, it’s a win-win.

 

We also practice what we preach within our company, as our CEO (mother of two young boys) believes in a flexible schedule and the ability to work from home. So right now as I write this from my living room, I have a babysitter swimming with my daughters and watching them do a cartwheel off the diving board for the 354th time in a row. I can hear them all laughing (undoubtedly enjoying the break from me) and at this very moment, I am not going bonkers.

 

So from our team to your family, here are a few ideas on how you could make summers more manageable–and therefore–much more enjoyable.

 

1. Don’t over schedule: Sometimes less really is more in the summertime. One Pogo user, Debbie C of Seattle, set up a carpool group in her neighborhood called “Beach Time.” Whenever she is planning on taking her twin boys to the beach down the road, she sends a message to the group to see if anyone wants to join, then swings by and picks them up. They rotate between parents, allowing kids to have time together, and adults time to get some work done. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated to schedule. Just sand, water and a ride there.

 

2. Share the load: Check to see if your summer camp has a group on Pogo, and if they don’t, encourage them to start one. This will enable you to see which families in your neighborhood are doing the same camp activity and reach out to help coordinate rides. Saving you time, saving you money, saving your sanity, and don’t forget–always more fun for the kids to have someone to ride with to and from sharing stories of the day.

 

3. Support other parents by booking a Community Ride: These are parents or older teen drivers in your neighborhood who are able to give your child a ride for a suggested reimbursement of as little as $5 a ride. Learn more here.

 

4. Hire a nanny: No, not full-time—just when you need one. For those one-off rides or times where you just need to get your child from A to B, and maybe a little bit of care. Pogo has partnered with Seattle Nanny Network to make this happen in Seattle. This enables you to have a full day of work when you need to, as well as reliably and safely getting your kids to where they need to be.

 

5. Treat yourself at the end of a long day: When all the work, playing, and driving is done – whip up one of these cocktails or mocktails. (Hey – we did say tips to make your summer more enjoyable).

 

Cheers to the summer, and happy carpooling! –Julia

 

Photocred: Jason Raish/ for The Washington Post

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