It’s summer and I just sent my kids off to camp. It’s a day camp. All day. While many parents love the idea of an all-day camp I don’t … but it’s a necessity. My wife and I work. We have to. We’re not well off—we’re right in the middle. Barely in the middle these days. Like a lot of people. We need both incomes to support us—especially after the series of lay-offs we experienced which depleted our savings and dented our 401ks. We’re a new breed of middle class. And we’re not alone.
Thousands and thousands of American households are barely holding on these days since the economy started tanking back in 2008. Sometimes you wouldn’t know it though by the amount of houses going up or being renovated and the multiple new SUVs in each driveway—but it’s true. My household isn’t one of those. We’re basically living paycheck to paycheck—so it kills me to have to pay for full-time camp for two kids each summer.
I have to send my kids to camp, because we don’t have any family living nearby. My wife and I have to be in our respective offices—no telecommuting allowed—and we really don’t have a lot of time off. We moved into our nearby just last year and really don’t know a lot of people that could or would babysit our children. We looked at a hundred different nannies from different sites, but just weren’t happy about it. I don’t trust an individual whom I don’t know with the most precious things in my life: my children. I’d rather send them to a camp with a hundred other kids and a bunch of counselors where they’re seen by everyone than leave them with a stranger all day. Unfortunately, that costs a bit more.
And the monetary cost isn’t everything. There’s also the cost to my soul. My psyche. My heart. It pains me to not be there for, and with, my kids. I love being a dad. I love it more than I love myself. I want to be there every minute of their day and it kills me not to. It scares me not knowing if they’re safe. It really does. So here’s what I did to ease my pain a bit.
Our kids, of course, have smartphones—Androids not expensive iPhones. So remote install cell phone monitoring software app on their phones so that we can see how they are doing throughout the day. The camp allows the use of monitoring cell phone software and my kids promised to check in several times a day, but the app allows me to check in at any time of the day. Yes, I can use it on how do you monitor a cell phone to see who they’re texting and calling and talking to on social media, but I’m really using it for the ability to listen in on their surroundings with the phones’ microphone and to snap a picture with their camera so that I can actually confirm that they are safe and happy. I can even see their own pictures on their phones!
I’m not saying it’s the best-case scenario. It’s just a better case. So until I win the lottery or gain some amazing inheritance from a long lost uncle I never knew I had, I’ll just have to keep working and sending my kids to summer camp. At least I won’t be completely in the dark.