Get Some ‘Alone’ Time with a Much-Needed Summer Kids Swap

Within a few weeks of summer break, I had already witnessed other moms lamenting facetiously about the summer kid chaos, including bickering among siblings and complaints of boredom. It’s been enough to make some ask, “How many more days until school starts (with over eight weeks left)?” For me, it feels like school just broke for the summer, and I’m already seeing back-to-school shopping signs. I actually look forward to the summer adventures my boys will experience each year, but there is a lot to consider. Will it be one camp for the whole summer? A variety of camp experiences? Should they go to different camps (because of varied interests or ages)? Should they just attend “Mom’s Summer Camp” where I figure it out as I go along? I’ve tried all of them over the years and have found lately that I enjoy a combination of strategies, with a few key elements allowing me to keep my sanity and enjoy the summer ride.

Having a few inexpensive go-tos (like Tuesday dollar movies, or free summer kids bowling, and of course, the beach) that I know they will enjoy always helps. And not only expecting, but also encouraging them to have down time has helped me tremendously. I realize that, just like me, sometimes my boys enjoy a few hours of “vegging out” and relaxing.  This might mean watching kids’ YouTube “how to” videos, playing video games (yes, video games) or even watching TV or having a movie marathon.

But there is the one magic element that has allowed me to stay in a positive summer state of mind: planned adult time for my husband and me. After two summers, it’s become what my BFF and I refer to as our eagerly anticipated Summer Kids’ Swap (for us parents AND our children). It’s simple. We keep her three boys for a week while she and her husband travel on a summer getaway, and they, in turn, do the same for us. It’s what I call a win-win! Would it be even more fun traveling together on a couple’s trip like we used to do when we first got married, each with only one child, and grandparents living locally who could keep them? Of course it would… but this absolutely works, too.

It’s becoming a summer memory-making tradition for us that our children are also excited about. In addition to summer camps, local adventures, and summer family trips, our boys now look forward to their annual Atlanta summer adventure — without us hanging over their shoulders. And I get a kick out of meticulously planning a Florida week to remember for my Godsons (complete with crafts, surf camp adventures, watching the sunrise on the ocean and some of the “must-do” kid spots unique to Jax like Sweet Pete’s, Cummer Museum, and the Mini Bar doughnuts!

Feeling like you need a vacation from your summer vacation because you haven’t had a moment to yourself?  Give it a try! A kid swap with a trusted friend or family member may just be the rebalance your summer needs.

Jeanine J. Ferguson is a Fort Lauderdale native who enjoys the beach life. After her husband’s career brought them to Jacksonville in 2003, she quickly fell in love with the beauty and charm of the First Coast. The joy of Jeanine’s life is being mom to two fun-loving, inquisitive boys, Cleveland IV (2009) and Jackson (2012). Passionate about all things fashion, including “New With Tags” finds and what she refers to as “Smart Style”, she’s also an avid DIYer and lover of photography. Jeanine is a proud Gator, receiving her undergraduate, masters, and specialist degrees from the University of Florida. After spending more than 10 years in regional/national sales and marketing roles for global medical device companies, in 2014 she accepted a position as the Marketing & Business Development Director for a local Jacksonville Medical Center. Jeanine also owns a Women's Online Clothing Boutique, Fourth & Jack, affectionately named after her sons. In her spare time, Jeanine enjoys spending quality time with her family, traveling, watching and attending culinary competitions, and honing her photography skills.


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