Overrated: Summer vacation anything but, for tormented moms

Thank God it's over.

Every June it's the same thing: my tightly-honed schedule comes crashing down around my ears, and chaos reigns supreme for the next three months.

All parents know what I'm talking about: Summer vacation.

Since I work from home, some working parents would assume I have it easy when school lets out for the summer. Anything but! Suddenly there are camps, a different one for each kid (and always on opposite ends of town) that I need to drive them to. Hours are spent chauffeuring, entertaining, feeding...all the tedious chores I get to ignore when they're happily in school, learning and playing with their friends, under the watchful eyes of professionals.

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Then there's the hit on my wallet, trying to find them exciting things to do during summer vacation. These camps add up. A week here, a week there. None of them ever a full-day. But the alternative, leaving them at home, is a recipe for disaster too. They will sit and watch TV and play Nintendo until they're zombies. With their friends.

It's not clear how a nine-month school-year came to be followed by a three-month vacation. Some say it stems from our rural, farm-dwelling past, when kids were needed for the harvest. But harvest is in the fall, and planting is done in April/May.

Others say it sprung out of the tradition of wealthy urban ladies being sent away on holiday over the summer, along with the children (and the servants) at the turn of the century. I can see the appeal in that. But without servants (or a large summer estate), it doesn't hold up to modern scrutiny.

Fortunately, the movement toward year-long school is gaining traction, although slowly. Even though most working parents have every reason to welcome a year-round schedule (typically nine weeks followed by three weeks vacation, year round), the topic is still controversial.

If I lived in Europe, and had all of August off -- paid! -- then I'm quite sure I'd sing a different tune about summer vacation. Alas. I'm an American. And as it's done now, summer vacation is a giant drag, especially for working parents.
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