I like to think of time in four ways – my time, your time, together time, and down time. My child needs empowering, fun, and enriching activities to help her grow and learn independence. I need “me” time whether I am working or relaxing. Together time as a family, including vacations and activities at home, is equally important – especially since our kids are grown and out of the house before we know it. We all lead busy lives so building in downtime is crucial to prevent burn out.
Most school-aged children have eight to ten weeks of summer break. This can either be a blessing or a curse depending on your child’s individual needs and personality. I know my own children benefit from structure. However, as much as I would like them to keep busy, they remind me they need downtime too. For example, seven weeks of sleep-away camp is too much time away from home for my teenage daughter, so we found a program where she goes for four weeks and gets to come home on the weekends. This arrangement works beautifully for our family. I had never heard of this kind of camp schedule before, but I am grateful I found it. The point is that there are lots of options, so you should be able to find something that is just right for your family.
Your Child’s Time
Does your child love to act and want to train? During the school year, he might get really bogged down with auditions and homework. During the summer, maybe he would enjoy something like my upcoming four-day acting boot-camp. Something like this can be a great way for these young performers to get back to basics with improvisation, learning a new monologue, and perfecting their audition technique for TV and film. Or perhaps your child has a musical bent. I am also collaborating with my colleagues in voice and casting offering one-day musical theater workshops culminating with a performance in a landmark cabaret club. I personally love shorter workshops such as these because they give both my students and me the flexibility to fit in many other life enhancing activities that help create balance.
While planning out your summer schedule, don’t forget about you – the parent. Our tendency is to put so much emphasis on the many wonderful opportunities available for our children that we sometimes forget our own needs. While your child is either away from home or in a daily program, you may want to consider learning a new skill yourself. How about some yoga and meditation? I recently spent a weekend at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and came back rejuvenated and inspired! Maybe learning to paint or dance is more your thing. Just do something to take care of yourself so you can be the best you can be for your child and your family.
Planning a vacation or “staycation?” Summer is a great time to check out theater and concerts in your local parks for the entire family to enjoy. There are also plenty of online sites that offer discount vacation packages last minute. Whatever you decide, the most important thing is doing things together.
Burned out on too much theater? Perhaps a week of something physical like tennis or soccer camp is what your child needs to get away from it all and stretch a few new muscles. What about doing nothing? This is a concept very foreign to me, but I am trying to find time to do more and more of it. My child needs it. I need it. And together we all need it to lead calmer, more serene and peaceful lives.
There are many kinds of summer camp programs available for your children – typically ranging from one day to several weeks in length. Taking into account these different segments of time and your family’s specific needs will help you plan your summer wisely, have fun, and stay sane all at the same time.
Master your craft, empower yourself, and enjoy the journey.
Denise Simon is a New York-based acting coach and career consultant who has been involved in the entertainment industry for more than 25 years as an actor, teacher, director, and personal talent manager. For 10 years, she was an associate with Fox Albert Management, one of the leading talent management companies in New York, where she managed such clients as Scarlett Johansson, Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino, Lacey Chabert (“Party of Five”), and Judy Reyes (NBC’s “Scrubs”). Denise has coached hundreds of children and young adults appearing regularly on Broadway and in television and film, as well as educating parents on the business of show business.