Summer is right around the corner, which means parents have a familiar dilemma on their hands.
What will they do with their kids for the summer?
Janice Albright knows if she wants to keep her 9-year-old daughter Sarah active during summer break, she has to think outside the box and plan ahead.
“It gets stressful, very stressful,” Albright said.
The summer struggle is something Ashley Birmingham is all too familiar with.
“That’s the main conversation I’m having with my friends. ‘What are you going to do this summer with your kids,’” Birmingham said.
Birmingham has four children ranging in age from 4 to 12-years-old.
She and her husband both work. So, finding good options for her children is critical.
“Where are your kids going? How are you going to afford it,” Birmingham said.
As the temperatures heat up, so does the pressure on parents. If they are lucky enough to find a good program that still has an opening for their child, can they afford it?
“Keeping her occupied. That is the key thing because there is so much to do, but you’re on a limit,” Albright said.
Affordability is a major concern for Albright. Her family gets by on just one income and said money can get a little tight.
“You have budget and you just can’t do it all. I can’t afford the camps and all the little classes they have because they are very expensive,” Albright said.
A visit to the childcare networking website Care.com shows the evidence. Day camps can get pricey. The cost of what they call an affordable day camp can range from $100 a week to $500, with the average sitting about $304.
“It does bring a lot of anxiety to me because I feel bad for her because I know what it’s like being a kid and growing up. And you want to go, go, go and do all of these things, but it’s not always in the budget,” Albright said.
There is help for some families.
“We do get increased calls for care in the summer,” said Annette Sobocinski, executive director for the Child Care Network.
The Child Care Network helps families with low to moderate incomes find childcare. Sometimes they even offer scholarships to help pay for it.
Sobocinski said parents have some options, but programs fill up quickly so you don’t want to wait.
“There is licensee centers. There are licensed home providers that work with children through the summer. Often times, they have curriculum and other activities including field trips for the kids to do this summer,” Sobocinski said.
She said there is a lot of help for families in Genesee County. She advises parents reach out to organizations like hers in their community to see which programs they might qualify for.
“I struggle daily. Especially, right now. We are just putting things together and trying to make it to the end,” said Amanda Perrault, parent.
If those programs don’t work for your family, there are still some things you can do to ensure your children have an active and fulfilling summer.
Perrault is a teacher and has summers off. She also has four kids and said coming up with things to do with nearly 12 weeks of free time is a struggle.
Many local parents said they found it helpful to find activities in their own backyards to keep their kids entertained.
Perrault makes sure her yard is packed full of fun, like having a swing, bikes to ride and toys to keep the kids busy. But it’s not always enough. This summer her family is creating a bucket list.
“Our summer bucket list is just like sitting down with the kids and figuring out exactly what you want to do this summer because they will have a million things they want to do,” Perrault said.
Albright said she tries to keep her daughter busy by staying local. She checks local papers to find free, family friendly events like shopping at garage sales for games and other activities.
She also gets together with other moms so their children can burn off energy together.
While their kids are enjoying some spring time fun in the sun, their parents are already gearing up for a busy and energetic summer that hopefully won’t break the bank.
“I hope we accomplish a lot, have a lot of fun and make a lot of memories,” Albright said.
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