June 18, 2012

Summer Regimens

On my friends/family Facebook page, some people were talking about some of the summer chores they had to do as kids, and it made me curious to know what other people had to do.

My mom was a teacher, and in summer she continued in Teacher Mode, but with only two victims students. We came to hate the word "regimen," because she used it so often and in such a brisk teacherly tone: "Time to do Our Summer Regimen! (*implied clap-clap sound in her voice*)"

Every single weekday all summer long, my brother and I did workbook pages, journal writing, mental math problems, extra chores, AND an exercise routine---plus hateful, hateful swimming lessons, which we had to ride our bikes to so we'd get all hot and sweaty again on the way home.

My mom says it didn't take long to do the whole regimen; in my childhood memory it took HALF THE DAY and was ALMOST AS BAD AS SCHOOL. I still get the Childhood Despair feeling if I think of it. I'm sure (1) it was good for us and (2) it made us appreciate our free time more and do less whining about boredom---but goodness, I sure hated it! And it felt so UNFAIR: it is SUMMER, we are supposed to be FREE AS BIRDS!

(My mother reports still feeling DEEP SATISFACTION with the regimen.)

("Regimen"---*shudder*.)

Did you have to Do Stuff in the summer, when you were a kid? Or were you FREE AS A BIRD?

51 comments:

Amanda said...

I don't remember. IN all likely hood we went to some form of camp as my Mom worked most summers. We did have to do a fair amount of work in the ginormous garden which I remember as being hell and which my mother probably remembers as being a lot of whining and not much help.

Josefina said...

There was one summer during which my mother enforced some kind of cleaning THING. It had a name, and I'm blanking on it right now, and I'm sure I could think of it if I tried, but I'd rather not. That's because I know the feeling when you think of The Name of The Thing. It's this awful cold squirmy feeling, for me, at least. Just...blech. Anyway. Cleaning. But it really was more the official naming of the cleaning and then the clap-clap sound of the voice that made it so awful. In subsequent summers, she only had to say The Name and we would start yelling, so we never had to do THAT again.

I'm really sorry about your Regimen.

Slim said...

Once a week each kid (starting with, I dunno, second graders?) had to do post-dinner kitchen cleanup one night a week. We also went to as many day camps as my mom could manage to sign us up for. Day camp usually involved swimming lessons, but once we knew how to swim, we didn't have to have lessons any longer. We also spent a lot of time as the pool we belonged to.
We all loved to read, so that wasn't required. The main requirement was not to whine about being bored, because that would get a a chore right quick.

Jen said...

We went to the pool and did swim lessons but I loved swimming. That's all I remember doing until Junior High when I volunteered at the library (willingly since I loved books) and mowed the elderly neighbor's yard (unwillingly, though I did get paid to do it and it was only once a weekish). I sort of think Summer time means FREE AS A BIRD. Because you have the rest of your life to work.

Trina said...

Free as a Bird over here. We did go to camp but we wanted to. The only "chore" was to keep our rooms clean. We went camping and on vacations a had friends over and swam in our pool. When I got older (high school age) I had a job and there were a few summers I had more than 1 job. The one thing my mom was pretty strict about though, was no laying inside watching TV. We had to be outside doing something.

d e v a n said...

We didn't have a regimen, really. We did take swimming lessons but since we never really did ANYTHING ELSE (seriously) we loved them.

JudithNYC said...

I was free as a bird!! All my cousins lived close by and we would gather in droves to go to my paternal grandma's. We would play in the creek all day and eat mangos, berries, and all sorts of tropical fruit even though we were forbidden to step in the creek and mix fruits like that (at that time people also believed that eating the pulp of oranges would make you sick, we ate it LOL).

Late in the afternoon we would come back and think we fooled our grandparents and parents into believing we had followed all the rules.

My kids were also free as birds during the summer. (Sigh, my babies will be 39 in two days.)

I have to add that I did read a lot and so did my kids but it was never required.

Tess said...

We had to wake up by a certain time, be dressed and breakfasted and ready to go by another.

And we had the hateful swimming lessons. The very first thing you had to do when you got there at like 8am was dunk your head under 10 times, which is MISERY when the water is MN-cold.

We also did summer rec programs, but we got to choose those, so I guess that was free-ish.

Sarah said...

My parents worked full time, so we mostly got kicked out of the house by our 423 year old babysitter who provided little more than a semi-warm body to call 911. I remember our days were spent with us and the neighbor girls roaming the neighborhood, swimming at the pool up the road, playing tennis in the park next to the pool, camping in the backyard. And I generally did a week of summer camp somewhere.

I loved that sense of freedom - no obligations and a lot of independence. Pure bliss.

Beylit said...

Chores in the summer were mostly the same as they were during the rest of the year. We kept our rooms 'clean', we helped with the dishes, and we assisted in "Family Fun Days" which was my mothers cruel form of torture, though she said it was just a top to bottom cleaning of the house. Those days could happen at any point during the year.

Other than that the only thing that summer meant was staying out of my parents way. There was no enforced summer reading or school work. When I was in high school I voluntarily spent a good deal of my time at school working on projects for the theater, but that had nothing to do with my mom, and more to do with my being weird and liking being at school.

Anna said...

School summer holidays in the UK are 6 weeks (I get the impression it's longer in the US) and we would spend 4 weeks of that in France, usually 2 weeks at one hot dusty campsite and 2 weeks at a different hot dusty campsite. I can't remember what happened the other two weeks, probably the first week was getting ready for the holiday and the final week involved my mother doing a lot of laundry.

Melospiza said...

You know....I must have done something, but I CANNOT remember what. One summer I had to finish the math workbook that I didn't do at school (oh, that was hellish. Just page after page of problems. There was a REASON I didn't do it at school, you see). Also, before our Great Western Vacations (we did one a year and in retrospect they were pretty awesome) my mom came home from the library with a few books about Kansas History (say) that I was supposed to read. I haaaaated that. Hate. ed.

For a couple weeks each summer I would go with a friend up to her parents' summer house in Michigan--now THAT was wonderful. Also, we had chores. Like, there was a list, with teams, and each team had a different chore each day. It was very Little-Houseish, things like washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, getting water (there was no running water and we had to pump). Since it wasn't my mom and it wasn't my usual boring summer, I sort of liked the chores, plus once we were done we were free to roam the island like the little barefooted urchins we were.

Jenny said...

There would be Post-its on the kitchen table from Mom re chores or flashcards, and we dreaded them. Every week I had to clean the bathrooms, and I resented it so much. Mom had a potted plant in hers and I did my best to kill it, soaking its soil with Windex and Scrubbing Bubbles...eventually I did a report on the nitrogen cycle and realized that the ammonia had been feeding the plant.

Jenny said...

My mom did a school thing in the summer, too! We had math and writing, mostly, with a couple of biography/ history projects in there. I hated the math (but in hindsight it was probably good for me) and enjoyed the creative writing. She'd give us a prompt, like "describe a day at the cabin" or "imagine how you would survive on a desert island" or whatever. I turned one of mine into a submission to our school's little magazine one time. I guess the whole... er... Not Regimen took about an hour a day. Then after that we were Free as a Bird Who Has To Do School for An Hour A Day!

Bethany said...

@Jenny, that is fabulous! It sounds like something I would do in my resentful and passive-aggressive youth.

pseudostoops said...

We were expected to read, a lot, but no specific school-related regimen. We did go to a day camp that had four "periods" a day, and so you got to choose four "classes" and if I recall correctly, my mom made us choose at least one class that was semi-educational- newspaper, or mapmaking, or something. And I think my sister, who struggled a little academically, might have been forced to do some more truly academic classes. But the rest were like "animal care" and "kitchen magicians" and holy gosh I LOVED it. LOVED.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Oh man - I think having to deal with that regimen as a child would have been horrible, but it seems BRILLIANT from a parent perspective, no?

I don't have a lot of memories about summers as a kid... I went to a couple of camps (with generally disastrous results) (okay, not DISASTROUS) and did a lot of Being Outdoors and reading. I did have to take swimming lessons, though. And we usually did a few family vacations - and often went to stay with the grandparents for a while.

el-e-e said...

oh, this is hilarious. REGIMENS! What an awful word. And I crack up at your mom being so smug and satisfied, too! Good for her, from the Mom perspective, but NO FAIR from the kid perspective!

We had similar activities and the worst one: PIANO PRACTICE. My mom bought us "fun" music, like pop songs arranged for piano at our level, but STILL she made us practice nearly daily, if I remember correctly. And we did do some workbook-type activities but I have blocked them from memory.

Makes me feel better that I send my kids to summer daycare becuase at least it's not ME inflicting these pains on them. Ha!

el-e-e said...

I have to add: My mom (because she reads your blog, too!) also took us to the pool nearly EVERY day in the summer for at least 2 hours, so she's forvigen. And we did the library book programs -- reading up to x number of books got you certain prizes -- which we loved. and watched a heckuva lot of TV, too. So it wasn't ALL bad.

kalendi said...

Fun, Free as a bird, whatever. Slept in, read (library program), played with friends, some T.V., a few chores. Girl scout camp once which I both loved and hated. But pretty unstructured, and I don't remember being bored!

Beth Fish said...

I don't think my mom knew where I was most of the time during my childhood summers. We just wandered the neighborhood in packs and went home when it started getting dark. There were certainly no workbooks to be found and chores were minimal.

Alice said...

my sister and i were home alone for most of the day during the summers, so my mom compiled a daily List Of Chores that had to be done by the time she got home so we would "keep busy" and presumably not get bored/into trouble (and these were NO JOKE chores, like "dust the top of every frame/thing hanging on every wall of the house" or "use Formula 409 to clean all the baseboards in the house" type things, and there would be A WHOLE LIST every day). but we didn't have to do schoolwork, as far as i can recall!

Karen L said...

My mother was also a teacher but she taught summer school every year, so until about Grade 4, I went to French Immersion summer school (really daycamp) for 4 of 9 weeks. And I'm pretty nerdy and enjoyed it plenty. Then free as birds for 5 more. Pretty much, our only job was to be out of the house.

Karen L said...

Also: we went to COUSIN CAMP! My parents and their parents swear that it was easier to take care of all five of us rather than just their own two or three. Each set of parents got 2-3 weeks of NO KIDS. It makes me sad that my own kids have no cousins, and likely never will :(

StephLove said...

Pretty much free as a bird, except for whatever regular chores I had during the school year. (I did have to do summer school or camp or get a summer job starting when I was about 14.)

Nevertheless, I am giving my kids extra chores this summer. It seems only fair since they are home messing up the house more often. They've been off school for less than a week, but I'm thinking the 11 year old will get chores on MWF plus sharing the lawn mowing with me on weekends. (Last week I had him do some weeding along the driveway.) The 6 year old will get something on T/Th. She picked up toys last Thursday. It won't always be the same chore, just whatever seems to need doing.

Also, the older one will need to practice his drums daily. He likes doing that but forgets if I don't remind him and I think he'll need some prodding to get some exercise but I haven't done that yet. Both kids read a lot voluntarily but I was thinking if we all did it at the same set time maybe I could get a chance to read, too. Finally, both kids have summer homework packets from school. So, yeah, there will be some structure around here.

Surely said...

When I was really young we had to read and play outside plus our normal chores. Then that all went to the wayside.

One summer we went to California for vacation and my aunt, a special ed teacher, gave me worksheets & I LOVED it, even took them home. Such a nerd.

One of our summer neighbors couldn't play until 11:00 am because they had to meditate and do yoga. (it was the 1970's) I remember thinking that was SO LAME.

Maureen said...

I grew up in the 60's and 70's-back when parents believed kids were around to do all the chores they didn't want to. There are 5 kids in my family, we did all the housecleaning, mowed the yard, did the laundry, and I took over the cooking when I was 11. Still had lots of time for reading, going to the pool every day (bigger siblings taking the younger ones), riding our bikes and spending time with friends.

The only organized activity we had was swim lessons at the local high school. My mom couldn't swim and was afraid of water, and she wanted to make sure we could all swim well. Once we could do that, we were done with the lessons.

Kara said...

We had "Outside Chores" that needed to be completed each week or we wouldn't get to do ANYTHING the following weekend.

Some weren't awful- like moving the sprinkler around the vegetable garden. Some were horrible- like paint the exterior of my Dad's rental property. He supplied the paint and scaffolding, but I was 16 and my brother was 14 so it took us four whole weeks. Most were in-between- take the younger siblings to camp (and more importantly remember to pick them up AFTER camp), vacuum the pool or wash the dogs.

My Mom was also very serious about the recommended summer reading list. We were expected to read a book a week from the list and write a report about it. She started us on this "regime" when I was in 2nd grade and my brother was in Kinder. Then at the beginning of the school year, we had to turn in the reports to our teachers even if they weren't required. Yeah, our classmates pretty much hated us on those days.

Lynn said...

Wow, reading these comments has been such an eye opener for me. My kids are on "the regimen" - I just spent a whole morning printing out math and handwriting worksheets for summer use. AND we'll be taking "the dreaded" swim lessons, too. Holy crap, I am a dragon mother!

My own summers were absolutely free. I spent them all with a nose in book after book after book, with occasional forays into colouring (I usually went through a whole colouring book each summer). I would have killed for a few worksheets. But seeing the comments here - maybe I'll leave some free time in there, too.

Anonymous said...

Not "Free as a bird", but decidedly no "Regimen" either! We helped with certain chores, and were encouraged to read, but nothing formal.

You know how muscles get stronger if given time to rest? I feel that brains need that same "down time" so I also do not force a regimen on my kids. They are not free as birds (heh, are any kids anymore?). We do have summer workbooks, and we do encourage them to partake in their school's summer reading program, but it's not forced (last year, none of my kids did it). I know teachers harp on staying sharp over the summer, but I've found in every grade so far they spend more time than necessary reviewing stuff. Hasn't it been "proven" (eyeroll) that kids learn better when info is given spirally anyway? So, reviewing is now part of the regular expected curriculum.

Now, that said, my kids are young (none even at middle school age yet), so I do realize in later grades, things that are expected often become mandatory (High school summer reading?) so we'll cross that bridge...

kakaty said...

From age 6 on I spent most of the summer at the pool. My mom would drop us off for swim team from 8-9AM, then swim team kids could hang out in the "snack area" during the hour after practice before the pool opened. Then mom would come back around 11-12 with a packed lunch and we'd stay at the pool until 1 or 2. Afternoons were for chores -as the youngest of 3 I learned to mow the lawn around age 9 or 10. Before that it was cleaning up sticks, pinecones & dog poop from the yard. I remember doing laundry and helping with other cleaning. But we also spent afternoons in the woods behind the house - building forts and catching crayfish in the stream. It was kind of ideal.

All that said, the first 2 years of swim team (ages 4 & 5) I HATED IT - had to be dragged there. But since my brother had to be there I had to be there so I might as well swim.

Also, now that I'm a parent my mom (a teacher) had it MADE. She got basically "free" childcare for 4 hours a day (it was a private pool so there was a membership fee. Technically kids under 12 weren't allowed to be there alone but swim team kids were the exception. Our team was huge).

kakaty said...

I have to also say that as I got older I did more chores. But I was also busy babysitting. As soon as I was 16 I got 2 jobs - I figured if I was going to work I might as well get paid! I worked one job all year (with breaks for sports seasons) and picked up seasonal work (Lifeguard) for the summer.

And most of the chores mentioned above weren't just summer jobs - they were year-round. Overall I have very fond "free bird" memories of summer, even though they were well-scheduled.

Nicole said...

I think I created my *own* regimen. Which just goes to show what kind of lame-ass kid I was.

Joanne said...

My mom and dad both worked after I was in, like, the second grade so we had babysitters for a few years and then we were really free! We used to go in the pool and everything!

M.Amanda said...

We had our regular chores, but otherwise FREE AS A BIRD. I remember spending entire days playing made-up games with the neighborhood kids in the lot near my house.

Later, when I began to not fit in quite so well and discovered books, I read a lot. My mom loved yard sales and would buy whole boxes of old mysteries and romances. One summer I read every Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes book she could find, plus some oddball mysteries. That was pretty much all I did from late morning til a little past midnight, with short breaks to bathe and eat. The next summer, the mysteries failed to keep my attention and I ended up reading 1-2 Harlequins per day all summer. I was 12 or 13 by then.

As long as I wasn't getting arrested and still made A's during the school year, my parents let me do whatever I wanted during the summer.

Julia said...

my parents were both teachers -- summers were magical -- we lived right smack between two big parks -- we swam every day from 1-5 and 7-9 -- if we didn't swim at night we played night games with the 30 or so kids our age in the neighborhood. We also travelled to see relatives in the summer. I remember it as being truly the best days of my life.

Misty said...

Yeah, I might wonder if my mother really loved me. 'Regimine' *Shudder*

Free birdin' over here.

Natalie said...

That's so funny! My mom is a teacher, and over the summers we were free to do what we wanted! She is pretty creative and a kid at heart. I think she wanted to be free too during the summer. We would spend time at the water park, sewing, yard work, and swimming in the pool. We would usually go visit grandparents and have a family vacation. Summers were the best!

Kami said...

When I wasn't at cheerleading camp or practice my job was watering the hogs, and no I'm not kidding. We lived on a big farm and the pigs would get to hot therefore someone being me, had to spray them down with a hose. Hourly. Strange but the year I left for college my dad had an automatic watering system put in. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

When I was a little kid I went to day camp, and after camp my mom would take us to the pool. I don't remember doing any worksheets or chores. I took swimming lessons and did summer reading programs at the library, because I loved to read and swim! When I was 10 I went to sleep away camp for 4 weeks, and then for 8 weeks starting when I was 12. I have such great memories of camp - one of the highlights of my childhood!

Alexicographer said...

No regimens. Definitely summer camp but I enjoyed those (at least mostly). Lots of pool, but (especially in the days before homes were air conditioned), what wasn't to like?

I do remember getting accepted to Duke's then-new Talent Identification Program (targets allegedly talented adolescents) in the summer I was 13 or 14, and being supposed to be excited about it and thinking, "Wait. They are giving me the opportunity to go to school in the summertime? I don't think so!" Fortunately there was no parental reaction (indeed, they may have been relieved, for financial reasons).

Sarah said...

We had chores, but just the normal ones we always had, plus maybe helping out with some weeding and watering here and there. We went to the library a lot and read a ton, but no enforced school sheets or regimens or anything. Also we had a pond, so we didn't go to the pool as much as we just played around in our own pond, until I was old enough to be grossed out by it a bit. We also never did camps, but we took lots of family trips in the summer, and I usually did a trip with my youth group too once I was jr. high age.

Anonymous said...

My parents both worked. I was watched by one of the neighbors until I was old enough to be home. Aside from one frightening week at a Bible Camp (age 8) that had me convinced my whole family was going to hell if I didn't get them to church; no camps. Later, when my brother came along I had to watch him. If your looking for a regimen to avoid having a grandchild when you are 40 this is it!

Zoosie said...

Until about 5th grade summer mornings were spent doing a regimen of worksheets and practicing handwriting by copying endless articles from Life magazine. We hated it. Afternoons we went to a nearby park where the local Parks and Rec ran a program for the neighborhood kids. Then in 5th grade my mom went back to work and we let out a collective sigh of relief as we vegged out in front of the TV for every summer thereafter, either at a friends or at or our place.

Ash said...

The only organized thing we had to do was the Library's summer reading program, which I loved. Otherwise we were totally free, with the caviot that we had to do whatever random chores my mother thought of, spend a great deal of time babysitting my younger sibling and make as little work for my parents as possible ( we lived in a rural area and were expected to stay home unless our friends parents could pick us up for a play dates). I remember looooonnnng hours spent laying languidly on the hardwood floor of our house (trying to stay cool as we had no air conditioning), re reading the same paperback books over and over and thinking jealously of my friends whe were at camps and on family vacations I could only dream of. Somehow, I do still love to read.

LoriD said...

My parents were both teachers. We did a lot of car travel over the summers with a tent trailer in tow. My mom would put together work sheets for the car trip based on where we were going (we liked them!) When we were home between excursions, we were free to play with our friends.

Wendi said...

Free as a bird here -- I did a lot of reading and hanging out with whoever I was friends with at the time. Lots of bike riding, swimming in the neighbor's pool, hitting tennis balls against the garage wall (when the car wasn't in the garage, of course!)

I'd say the only real grief I got from my mom was to go out more -- I am an introvert, she's an extrovert, and it made her nuts that I wasn't always out with friends. If left to my own devices, I'd stick around the house and read (either inside, or outside while I tanned...my poor skin!)

kristiina said...

aside from swim team (which I loved) we were free as birds!

CarrieGirl1179 said...

We were pretty much free as birds! I do remember when I was about ten years old we had a big barn in the back yard and our dad let us use the top of it for a "playhouse" but we had to clean it up and put whatever we wanted it in on our own. That was a lot of work but it was actually one of the best summers I can remember!

CAQuincy said...

When we were old enough to be "latch keys", my brother and I would sit around in our PJs all morning until we got the DREADED phone call from my mother during her break at work with the list of chores we were supposed to finish that day before she got home OR ELSE!!!

I'm sure if we were smart about it, we could have finished those chores in no time. But it felt like an all-day agony to us.

I blame those summers for my hatred of all housework AND my own personal phone phobia!! Thanks, Mom!

Jenny Grace said...

We had a combo. Like, a couple two week sessions of summer camp, maybe some swim lessons, broken up by a camping trip here and there. We did have to read in the summer, but we were all avid, dedicated readers, so I feel like that wasn't a chore. Sometimes my mom would bring us to work with her (which was ok b/c it was the family business). Occasionally we had summer sleepaway camp. My cousin Harley would usually visit for a couple weeks. We'd go to Tahoe for a week. It was a cobble together of this and that, basically. My parents worked opposite shifts, so there wasn't a summer childcare need.
My youngest two brothers did junior guards every summer, which is a 6 week program of basically running on the beach, as far as I can tell, from ages 6-16, m-f from 10-3. So that's MUCH more structured.