Dear Single Mom, Summer is Coming

#DearMom

While kids, teachers, and many parents are excited that summer is right around the corner, summertime can be one of the hardest seasons for single moms.  You’re probably already thinking about it because now is the time to start planning.

We want to help you think through some of your obstacles and options for the summer. We’ve been there. We know it takes creativity to hold onto your sanity and make a good plan, that’s why we’ve tackled three big stressors many single moms feel with summer approaching. We’ve also provided you with a few helpful resources. Since we’re located in Largo, Florida, all our links are to opportunities in Pinellas County, but if you don’t live near us, the same strategies apply. You can easily find similar resources in your community.

Since summer is all about the pool, the beach, and swimming—let’s dive in!

I work full time. What do I do with my kids?

This is the struggle heard around the world!

Working single moms everywhere groan loudest about summer because, while school is out, work is not. Suddenly, you feel like you’re part of a circus act—there’s so much juggling.

You’re trying to manage spending time with your kids while fulfilling your professional responsibilities, and on top of that inconvenience, summers can be expensive. You can barely make ends meet on a good day, and now you have to consider the costs of summer camps and child care.

Camp Scholarships

Kids love summer camps! They get to make new friends, do crazy things, be active, eat well, and HAVE FUN. But camps can be expensive. Don’t let that stop you from applying. Many have scholarships that will significantly reduce the cost. Some even offer scholarships so kids can go for free.

It’s not difficult to find the information. Simply google “Summer Camp Scholarships in YOUR COUNTY.” Extend out to surrounding counties, too. Just make sure, if the camp is a day camp, you have the ability to drop off and pick up on time each day.

Here’s an example of a camp in Pinellas County that offers a scholarship application.

Great Explorations

Scholarship Form

Here’s the secret: APPLY NOW!  It’s not just single moms who are faced with the struggle of what to do with children over the summer. All working families are also vying for slots at camp, too. So, March and April are the time to get to work on making the plans. Some camps are already on a waiting list, and if you want scholarship resources you want to act quickly. The old adage is true—those who snooze will lose.

Local Rec Centers

Rec centers and parks offer a lot of opportunity for kids over the summer, and many also offer scholarships. You can start by contacting your local YWCA and YMCA to see what they have available, but don’t forget to do a google search for Rec Center Camps in your area.

Shepherd’s Village moms love Play Largo. It’s a great way to plug into the community and they offer camps for kids of all ages. They also offer a few camps geared to particular areas of interest, so your children can continue to grow in their talents.

Camp Grandma

Camp Grandma does not have to be a biological grandparent. If you know someone who is retired, gently ask if they would have any interest in helping you with your children over the summer months. Intergenerational connections are valuable for all sides. Spending time with an older friend or relative is great for kids, and grandparent-figures often relish having younger people around them. Offer what you financially are able to give, without expecting them to do it free. They may not accept or they may use what you give to spend on outings with your kids. Either way, you want to appear appreciative, humble, and gracious.

Student Sitters

Hiring a competent, fun high school or college student can also be an affordable option.  Your kiddos will be entertained with endless fun at a reasonable price. You may not come home to a tidy house or dinner in the oven, but your kids will have a great summer—which means: be prepared for crafts everywhere and kids covered in dirt.

There’s no extra money for summer fun. My kids will be bored and fighting!

As a single mom, it’s easy to get stuck in the routine of day-to-day, normal activities. And you’re tired and basically broke, so you may not have the brain energy to think of inventive cheap (read: FREE) ideas for summertime fun. After all, you’ve just washed 10 loads of laundry, driven the kids to soccer practice for the fifth time, and saved the world.

We’ve got you!

Below are ideas of things to do in your area that are either really cheap or completely free!

Visit: 75 Free & Cheap Summer Fun for Kids Around Tampa Bay

Library: Check their summer schedule for activities. Also, some libraries have passes to local museums and attractions that you can check out for the day. Don’t be afraid to ask!

Vacation Bible Schools: You don’t have to attend the church to send your kids, and they are totally free. Contact the church to see if your middle school and high school student can volunteer to help.

Free Movies: Many parks have weekly movie nights for families. Pack up your blanket and chairs, enjoy the summer night, and make some memories. Don’t forget your bug spray!

Cheap Movies:  Many local movie theaters offer certain days of the week to see selected movies for $1.00.

Community: Check your community calendar for activities and summer parades. Add those things to your calendar. Swing by McDonald’s for $1.00 ice cream cones on your way home.

Start New Traditions: Tie-Dye matching shirts for the 4th of July or make special snacks to take to the movie at the park. Your kids will love that you thought to do something just a little extra special.

Here’s the secret: PLAN TOGETHER!  Include your children in the planning. Keep a calendar or whiteboard with what you’ll be doing each week. It will hold you accountable for making it happen, and it will help them be mentally prepared for those activities.

Need summer or back-to-school clothing? Clothes to Kids is a great resource for single moms.

I have to share my kids with their dad this summer and it makes me feel all kinds of conflicted feelings.

So many emotions.

You need a break, but when they’re gone you miss them.

Having them spending an extended amount of time with someone you don’t like or trust can bring up all sorts of worries and concerns.

He’s not dependable. He’ll probably change his mind at the last minute and I won’t have a plan in place.

I feel really sad and lonely when my kids are gone.

First of all, every one of those thoughts, feelings, and fears are valid. This is not easy, and we don’t even have great answers for the myriad of struggles and pains you may experience this summer.

What we do have is the source of all strength, hope, and wisdom. We know that the Word of God is full of promises that are just as true for YOU as they are for us. When things feel out of control, God can bring peace and healing.

We would love to pray for you. Both now and throughout the summer. Visit our Need Prayer? page on our website and let us know what you’re going through. There is a 24/7 Prayer Line available to you, as well as a prayer form you can send directly to our team. Each one of our staff has been where you are. There’s no judgment here.

Single Mom, you are not alone. We want you and your children to face your summer with confidence and hope.