Making the Summer Day Camp Commitment

A friend of mine signed up her 10 year old daughter, Emma, for a one week soccer camp.  But Emma hates sports.  So why on earth would she do such a thing?!

Somewhere along the way, between working full time, taking care of her aging parents, along with a divorce, years of being a single parent and then getting re-married, the idea of getting Emma involved in sports was lost.

A few months back, Emma stated, “I don’t do sports.”

In that moment, my friend felt like she’d really failed Emma.  It’s not that being part of a sport in and of itself is the most important thing.  It just made her sad to think that at only 10 years of age, her daughter had already ruled out this entire arena of life that can be so very fulfilling.

When summer camp sign ups came along, my friend sat her daughter down and talked to her about what they could do this summer in terms of camp options.  She told her, “I want you to try out some sports camps, just to see what it’s like.  You can’t say you don’t like something that you’ve never tried.”  Emma reluctantly agreed.

A week of soccer camp was up first.  As the day approached, Emma was dreading it.  She even cried a couple of times over this.  My friend bought Emma a pink pair of shoes she can actually run in along with some athletic gear.  Emma already loves to shop, just like her mom, and this seemed to take the edge off.

Well, today was the first day.  My friend dropped Emma off.  After the drop off, my friend texted me, “Looked like 10-12 kids.  All boys but one.  It might be a tough evening.”

My heart ached for my friend and for Emma.  At least there was one other girl.  But I knew my friend would spend a day of second guessing herself while trying to stay focused at work.

At lunch, I touched based with my friend to see how she was doing.  She recognized that it’s one week.  It’s only 5 days.  There are children all over this world who truly suffer.  Being forced to attend soccer camp for 5 days cannot be considered suffering.  And maybe a little suffering will build some character?  Needless to say, it had already a long day for her.

Just before the afternoon sitter was to pick up Emma, her mom texted Emma and asked her daughter to text a selfie with an update on her day.  20 minutes later, a selfie of a smiling girl,

“My eyes burn!! I forgot my water bottle today too!! It was also tiring and fun”

My friend was elated, “Fun!  She had fun.  I’m so glad she had fun.  I’m so relieved she had fun!”

Her goal was for Emma to SEE herself as a girl who can do sports.  Over dinner, Emma was non-stop chatter which isn’t typical for her.  She talked all about the things she had learned and how someone said she was a good kicker and on and on.  Emma found a water bottle and her mom got Emma some sunscreen that wouldn’t be so hard on her eyes when she got sweaty again tomorrow.  Emma picked out her outfit for the next day and even packed her lunch!

My friend didn’t know where this may lead but this process brought back some options today that had been ruled out a few months ago.  All thanks to summer day camps and being willing to make a commitment…for 5 full days.

On deck for Emma this summer:  Volleyball camp, Biking/Cycling Camp, Science Camp, some summer school, a couple of vacations and even one week of more traditional day camp.  I’m excited to see how Emma and her mom comes out the other side of this.

Your Family Calendar is Your Safety Net

Family life has a lot of routine to it.  A lot of us keep the routines in our heads and use our calendars just to manage the exceptions.  But trying to keep track of everything in our heads actually adds to the stress of keeping the family running smoothly.  “Clearing the Mental Clutter” is good advice.

So how can you use your calendar to help you clear the clutter, keep things running smoothly AND be your safety net?  Here are a few simple tips:

#1 Keep the recurring appointments in the calendar and include addresses and contact numbers

If you are sick or your babysitter is sick and someone else like Grandma or a friend are filling in, you can simply forward the calendar item and all the info is there.  Often, a spouse who isn’t as familiar with the routine is trying to fill in.  Set them up for success by having these details in the calendar when you create the appointment in the first place.

#2 Capture cancellations in the calendar

If the piano lesson or the soccer practice gets cancelled, update the calendar to say something like “Piano Lessons Cancelled Today”.  If you just delete it, when you look at that week, your first thought will be, “Did piano get cancelled?”  Turn that question into a statement.  You want to be confident that it’s cancelled and not force yourself to remember why the appointment isn’t in the calendar anymore.  If you’ve got a babysitter managing the schedule, this will also save you from getting an unnecessary text in the middle of your workday asking to confirm whether or not Piano Lessons are actually cancelled.

#3 Put reminders in the calendar

A lot of these routine appointments involve things you need to remember.  If your child needs to remember to wear a white shirt and black pants to her choir assembly on Wednesday at school, add an item to your calendar for the night before to remember to lay out those clothes.  You may even need a second reminder so those items are clean so you’re sure you can set them out the night before.  Google Now and Cortana are great ways to capture these reminders in your calendar and by doing so, you’re getting them out of your head and putting them into your calendar to remind you when you can actually act on those things.

Part of the stress of juggling a family AND a profession is keeping track of all of these details.  By dumping these details into your calendar, you remember things at the right time and your calendar becomes a safety net when you need a friend or family member to fill in for you.