1. Day camp
If you’re in the 1%, sleepaway summer camp is the answer to all your problems. But if you can’t afford to spend the equivalent of four years of college tuition per child, day camp at the local YMCA won’t kill them. True they’ll learn nothing, regress academically, and probably won’t make the school soccer team next fall. They might also be laying the groundwork for skin cancer because the fear of lawsuits means no staff member will dare to put sunscreen on them. But everyone says camp is where lifelong friendships begin. That’ll be a big help when their regular-school friends ostracize them for not having anything in common after a summer of enrichment camps and foreign travel.
Your parents love your children! Also, they totally remember what it was like to be parents, as you well know because of all their helpful advice! Also, they don’t charge a late pickup fee and usually pay for lunch. If they’re unable to figure out diapers or car seats or maybe they just don’t like your kids — just hit up the other pair of parents. If they try to pull that whole “We already raised our kids!”-routine, hang up on them, call your sister, and demand she takes them. She’s already a stay-at-home mom and it’s not like she has anything else going on. She gave up her dreams years ago; family is family, so how dare she call you self-absorbed?
3. Neighborhood teenager
An excellent option if $50/hour is doable for a warm body that stares at her phone the entire time. Plus add in meals, snacks, activities that she won’t do with your kids, and gas money. Also, her boyfriend will need to be allowed over between lifeguarding shifts. He’ll vape in the basement and teach your children all the new slang. Did you know “body count” means the number of people you’ve banged? Now your kids do, too.
4. The Pool
A whole summer outside in the fresh air, absorbing vitamin D, getting yelled at by adults just like at home — and all for the low price of one summer’s pool membership! Plus the lifeguards are first-aid trained! Pack a day’s worth of snacks, sunscreen, and diapers and drop those ankle biters off. The manager loves kids, as you can tell by googling him, and there are always a ton of other blabbing moms sitting around who will be happy to help your kids if something goes wrong. Summer vacation takes a village and those moms you’ve never met are probably firm believers in this.
5. Summer School
It’s a common misconception that summer school is for kids who aren’t smart: it’s actually for students who are failing in their grade-level coursework. All it takes is a little bit of homework sabotage to ensure this is a viable summer childcare option.
6. Under your desk at work
Look, it’s a small cubicle but a big-ass desk. You can easily fit all three kids under there. iPads, headphones, extra chargers, and a steady supply of chocolate and you’re golden. Screw your boss with her au pair and advice on “having it all.” She hasn’t given you a raise in three years and she actively fought against increasing maternity leave from six to eight weeks because she came back to work on day four and was grateful to feel useful again! Maybe her super-hot French au pair can watch your kids, too, when she’s not cleaning the house, making nutritious lunches, and sexting your boss’s husband.