Share this story

 | Steve and Bridget Patton

He Says: The Kids’ Summer is Too Structured

It's almost time for the kids to be home all summer, and Kate has them registered for so many summer programs they're not getting a chance to enjoy childhood. I think we should just hire a baby-sitter.


She Says: I don't want them sitting in front of a screen

With both Daniel and me working, the kids need to be somewhere safe and structured. Camp is fun and also keeps them corralled. I'm afraid a baby-sitter will just sit around drinking our soda and eating us out of house and home while the kids are sitting in front of a screen all summer.

Calling Mary Poppins! Seriously, there are baby-sitters out there who can provide children with happy summers filled not only with structured activities and adventures, both in and outside of the home, but also with healthy doses of unstructured time for fun things like swimming, lying around reading books, playing board games or staying up late and waking up at the crack of noon.

To find such a baby-sitting gem, you might need to do some home and leg work. But maybe right there in your own parish there’s an empty-nester, stay-at-home mom who loves and misses the fun of taking care of kids – someone who drives and who could use some extra income. Or maybe there’s a responsible, energetic and creative college student home for the summer. Whoever it is, though, be prepared to pay him or her well. It’s a valuable skill you’re looking for.

Now, this is not to say that more traditional, structured summer group experiences such as camping, day programs or sports clinics can’t also be great options.

Many Catholic dioceses offer excellent faith-enriching camping programs, and most parishes offer week-long Vacation Bible Schools every summer.

The best scenario would be some combination of all of the above, hopefully also to include a family vacation. It’s also important, if your children are old enough, to include them in your planning and decision-making.

One last thing, since you brought it up, Kate. You wisely expressed concern about your children not “sitting in front of a screen all summer.” Screen addiction is indeed an epidemic and year-round problem, especially for the still-forming brains of children. If this is going on with your children, help them break the habit, and lead by your own example.

Keep in mind that your overarching goal, whether your children are with a baby-sitter, on a camping experience or with you, is to guard and shepherd them – bodies, minds and souls – into healthy relationships with God. Proverbs 4, a parent’s litany of wisdom offered to their child, is summed up beautifully in verse 23: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”