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Am I Crazy for Not Sending My Daughter to Summer Camp?

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Now that the weather is consistently warm, and school’s end is inching closer and closer, the decision my husband and I made to skip summer camp for our 5-year-old daughter is starting to sink in. And by sink in, I mean scare me.

For a variety of reasons, we opted to forgo full-time summer camp, and instead focus on New York City fun, led by college-aged babysitters, family members, and…me.

Last year, we sent Scarlett to camp five days a week from 9-3, mostly because I was nine months pregnant and dreaded the thought of schlepping her to the playground every day in my rotund state.

This year, though, there are a combination of reasons we’re not doing camp—some financial (we have to pay a nanny anyway to watch the baby, and have you seen the price of day camp in New York City?) and some practical. Scarlett is starting at a new—and much larger—kindergarten in the fall, and we’d rather not have to go through two major transitions (school-to-camp and then camp-to-school). Also, we like to get out of the city as much as we can in the summer and don’t really want to feel tied down by camp and its aforementioned stratospheric costs.

READ: How an Unlikely Friendship Formed at Jewish Summer Camp

But it’s nearly here, and now, every time I talk to a fellow parent (at school, in the playground) about their kids’ summer camp, I start to feel some serious peer pressure. What am I doing? Did I make a mistake? Are we all going to be bored and hot all summer? Should I have just sucked up the cost?

I know, I know: Comparing your situation to anyone else’s is a lose-lose situation in the world of parenting, but with three months of school and camp-free living (with two kids!) looming, I can’t help but envy parents who will send their kids off on buses to far away places (well, mostly Westchester and New Jersey) and get them back, sun-kissed and exhausted. Or my friends and family in England whose kids only have six weeks off between school years.

I also recognize that this issue falls under the category of “first world problems,” and that spending a summer with your kids is a blessing. It’s just the practicalities that are bogging me down. How will I (and my babysitter, while I work) transport them both around the city to take advantage of all of the great activities available? What will Scarlett do while the baby takes his two long naps? How will I get them both to sit still for sunscreen applications day in and day out? How on earth am I going to balance the baby’s schedule with his sister’s all day, every day?

READ: What They Bring Home From Camp

Anyone who’s spent a summer in New York City knows that the heat and humidity is not for the faint of heart. Schlepping two kids on the subway/bus/in taxis is never fun—no matter how great the activity at the end is—and I’d imagine it’s even less enjoyable when it’s 90-plus degrees outside.

Sure, we’ll go to the playground, make playdates, spend really hot days in the a/c at the library or in museums; we’ll take advantage of New York’s free concerts and events and, yes, we’ll probably spend some of my son’s naptimes watching movies in the comfort of our air-conditioned apartment (movie recommendations welcome!).

Ideally I’d also like to be able to do a bit more mindful parenting this summer. There was a post going around Facebook a few weeks ago about the importance of slow parenting—spending less time rushing your kids and doing chores and more time just enjoying them. I’d like to do some of that at least.

So, to be honest, my reasons behind this post are two-fold: To elicit advice on what to do with two kids in the city on hot days (comments welcome below), and secondly, to remind myself that it’ll be OK, that we’ll have fun, spend real quality time together, and maybe even make some wonderful memories. Right?

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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