My daughter is in between needing daycare and being able to get a job during the summer, and we are sort of flummoxed about it. She has alternated between staying with me as I work and attending a parks & rec summer camp that is unfulfilling but what we can afford. We can't afford a nanny. She doesn't need a babysitter.
She's at the age that I remember loving summer the most, when the little kid stuff -- like swingsets and trampolines and splash parks -- is still fun and nostalgic but she doesn't need me hovering around her to enjoy it. She's at the age of flashlight tag and being able to light fireworks and riding your bike to the pool and walking down to the creek to look for frogs alone.
This summer we've patched together help from my parents (bless them), the parks & rec camp, a week of horse camp and a parent or two working from home, but I need a real solution for next summer, the summer of twelve, and the summers afterward until she can get a job. I don't even know how old you have to be to get a job here. I think I had to be sixteen in Iowa, though there was that one sketchy restaurant in town that hired fourteen-year-olds.
What do you do with a summertime middle-schooler? Is camp really the only answer? She's not interested in the parks & rec, she doesn't play sports, and the really cool camps are either too far away to commute to and still get to work on time or cost way more than we can afford to pay.
I'm frustrated. Finding childcare has been really the only part of parenting that I loathe. My daughter is wonderful. I don't want her to dread summer because she hates where she has to spend her days while my husband and I work, but staying home all summer isn't really an option. Why is this so hard?