How I kept my kids happy in the summer….without sacrificing my work schedule

School’s out. Those dreaded words?

How was it possible to run a business, and not go completely insane with children? Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids to death but when they were small, it was difficult to run my company, Pegeen, without going crazy. Somehow, and I am not really sure, it evolved into this wonderful program we called “Mon-Fries” – mostly because my youngest, Ted, loved french fries so much we had to have that spelling. What it involved was theme weeks and planning. And books. Lots and lots of books.

In the beginning of the summer, we would set theme weeks together. There was lots of discussions and ideas – “I want a beach” “Skyscrapers” “Bugs” “Weather” or even something simple like “Fruit”. Once we set our 11 weeks of summer themes I would get black and white marble notebooks that we would draw, scribble and mark up with our ideas. When we would draw in our books to illustrate the ideas we planned, I got an insight into the thinking of my kids minds. We would start our planning sometime in early May since my kids finished school in late June. This helped make those last few weeks of school seem more interesting.

indian summer 1998jpgFINALLY! School was out and for me, it meant being able to have lots of fun with my kids and longer week day hours (8am until midnight instead of 7 or 8). Our “MONS” were filled with trips to the libraries, often different ones, that I would take the kids to or on those rare occasions, I would have their sitters take them. It was easy for both of my kids to get lost in the library so each week there was a theme…. like a week about fish. But these days were filled with “mommy what’s that word? (Jonah)” or “Look at this, look at this” (drawings). Not that I only worked 5 days a week (I worked 7) but starting on Mondays, based on their ages, and through out the summer, it would be a week of One-Fish-Two-Fish or as they were older, making lures, or books on how machines were made and Richard Scarey and yes even Harry Potter themed weeks which we all loved.


Throughout the week, we would find projects for them to do, or rent a movie based on the theme, read their books and make artwork. Most of these projects they were able to do on their own. I had a sitter who came to my home as we lived over our business, and she would help out as a momma’s helper. I’d feature their best or favorites on the office landing so they could admire them each time they ran in and out (and in and out) of the basement door, until it was the FRIES in Friday…. where the week would top off at their reward trip. So, for fish week, we went to the Camden (NJ) Aquarium, and the beach week we took them to Sandy Point (one year to the nude beach by accident, duh), and for machine week we went to this awesome museum in Bethlehem, PA called the National Museum of Industrial History. Fruit week was always fun and messy, because there is so much you can do with fruit (make jam, freezies, pick berries) but our favorite was “Help Daddy Build a Deck and Install an Above Ground Pool” – which was hard work but we all grew into professionals that week.

Now that the kids are college and beyond, it’s about coordinating the car to get them to work although we live so close to Disney they get to their summer jobs pretty quickly. I miss those summers and live through my friends telling me, “Urgh, Summer vacation started” and I am so envious of the time where we lived for our “Mon-Fries.”


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