When we think of summer vacation, we might think of sunny days, beach visits, and just relaxing.
But some parents don’t see it that way, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
The Redditor, who has since deleted their account, arranged a strict schedule for their children, complete with rules about exercise, electronics, and daily chores.
But when they were questioned by fellow parents who valued the slowness of summer vacation, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they might be too strict.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for the ‘strict’ schedule I have my kids on?”
The OP was thinking about their home schedule after being questioned by other parents.
“It’s summertime, so while Mom and I work, our 3 kids are at home, ages 8-15.”
“We were talking with other parents about what our kids do during the day, and some friends were shocked that I was being so strict during summer break.”
They gave their children daily chores.
“They have to do chores every day.”
“On a daily basis, they clean the bathroom, bedrooms, playroom, and any dishes. Basically, they pick up after themselves.”
“On Monday, they wash, fold, and put away their laundry.”
“On Tuesday, they sweep and vacuum.”
“On Wednesday, they mow and weed eat the yard.”
“On Thursday, they have nothing in addition to their daily chores.”
“On Friday, they sweep and vacuum again.”
The kids had a daily activity requirement.
“Monday through Friday, the kids wake up and run 1 mile and have 15 minutes to do it.”
“If they don’t make it in 15 minutes, nothing happens. I’m just giving them a very achievable goal.”
There were electronic limitations.
“Electronics are turned off at 12:30 until we get home from work around 4:30. We have a pool and they have so many toys. They have things to do that don’t include electronics.”
“They have to complete the chores by 4:30, so they spend the morning playing Xbox or watching TV, eat lunch, and then they do chores and entertain themselves.”
“I don’t want my kids just sitting in front of a screen all day because it’s not healthy.”
The OP was pretty confident about the positive impact of the routine.
“Being forced to use your imagination isn’t a bad thing as far as I’m concerned.”
“I want them to run because they all play sports, and they get gassed out rather quickly. This is the first summer we’ve done the mile thing, and I’m hoping it helps once fall sports start.”
“I’m just trying to equip my kids the best way I know how.”
But the OP felt conflicted after receiving feedback from other parents.
“But other parents had made comments about how summer break is all about relaxing and getting to take a break from responsibilities. All fun.”
“I felt conflicted.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some thought this was incredibly unfair to the 15-year-old.
“Structure could be given to the 15 year old by letting them get a part time job, not to be tied to the house all day Monday to Friday until 6:30 PM.”
“Doing yard work and cleaning while making sure the younger siblings are still alive, and it seems like none of that labor by the oldest is being compensated.”
“OP is isolating the oldest from their peers and social interactions.” – steamworksandmagic
“I’m much less concerned by the schedule of tasks than the parents expecting 15-year-old to supervise young children in the pool.”
“Having limited electronics, daily exercise (I’d extend that to ‘whatever exercise you want,’ so kids could run, swim, pogo jump, etc daily, and only because no consequence for not being sufficiently athletic), daily chores (I’m assuming they aren’t like cleaning a 3 story mansion but their own rooms and common space, and they are more tasked with washing their own dishes than entire families, etc, I’m ok with the chores), and they should be adjusted for age and ability, but other than that.”
“I also don’t think it’s ok to act like the 15-year-old doesn’t ALSO have the job of babysitting all day, because that’s work. And if it isn’t, the youngest doesn’t have safe supervision.” – Plantsanddanger
“I started babysitting early too, but not for this amount of time every day.”
“And babysitting for pay is different than babysitting siblings when you have no choice.”
“It’s called parentification and it isn’t okay. It’s a quick way to have a kid never talk to parents again.” – Flimsy-Ad-7627
“100% agree about the pool. Once my son was 12, I let him go alone to the community pool with an attendant, that was no deeper than his neck after 8 years of him swimming.”
“But I would also ask how long do the daily chores take? Wipe the sink when you use it, dry the shower, and clean p**s you got on the seat floor is one thing, but to CLEAN the bathroom is another. I wouldn’t expect kids to do it every day.”
“And I’m all for imagination and limiting electronics, but 5 hours without electronics without guidance is a lot to ask for a 15-year-old watching an 8- and whatever-year-old.”
“The world’s changed Minecraft is imaginative, and socializing online is like the telephone was in the ’50s or ’90s.”
“Oh, plus there’s a good chance a lot of the 15-year-old’s friends are sleeping in and not doing a forced march at 6:00 a.m. in getting online at 6:15.”
“Send them to Boys and Girls Club, they offer lots of activities. Appropriate for a variety of ages.” – shhh_its_me
“15 is old enough to be a Certified Life Guard in my state, which is something the OP should definitely look into.”
“I do think the 15-year-old should be paid as a summer nanny and get lots of evening time to hang out with friends.” – kol_al
Others were concerned about the lack of pool or home safety.
“I had a student who was going into high school who died 5 years ago by drowning in a pool.”
“No clue what the situation was because I was too broken about it for details but spent a whole year or more thinking of all the ways it could have been avoided (including constantly thinking I was CPR certified and a trained swimmer which is ludicrous because I was just his former teacher).”
“OP, please don’t let something like this happen to you and your family.” – FrozenTundra32
“I feel like lifeguards are on duty at the pool constantly and not off running miles or cleaning bathrooms when they’re on duty.” – UnicornCackle
“I worked as a lifeguard at condo pools throughout summers in high school and college, meaning I was the sole lifeguard.”
“If I had to so much as take a p**s, I had to either hang a sign at the entrance, noting I was on a break and would be back in 5 minutes (assuming nobody else was in the pool area at the time), or get everyone out of the pool and ensure nobody would go back in for the minute or two that I was using the facilities.”
“If nobody was in the area, I was allowed to read a book or something, but the second anyone’s toe set foot into that water, all attention had to be on the water and the people in it.” – Frejian
“I’m a boomer. We did all that stuff, not as intense a schedule of chores, but a fair bit, and a lot of time biking and swimming and playing, with little adult supervision. But we’re the ones who survived.”
“The child death rate was higher because accidents and crazies were a thing, even back in the day when there was much less news media, and none of today’s social media to spread the news beyond your own town.”
“Access to the pool with no supervision but the 15-year-old is both dangerous and a real burden on the 15-year-old.”
“There are advantages to growing up that way, too, but don’t kid yourself and say it’s not risky.” – Ornery-Ad-4818
“I’ve personally saved over two dozen kids during my time as a lifeguard, and the facility I worked at had hundreds each summer. Their parents didn’t think twice about them being unsupervised in a pool either.”
“It’s never dangerous until it happens to you.” – WorldNerd12
Some thought the OP was more concerned about a clean home than relationships with their kids.
“Think about the relationship you want to have with your kids, not just the ‘life lessons’ you are trying to get down their throats.” – Anxious-Ad9436
“You want your house cleaned for free. OP just described every chore that exists in the house and it’s being done by the kids.”
“Having them keep THEIR room clean and do THEIR laundry is enough to teach them adult life skills, depending on age.” – angiosperms-
“I had these type of parents. It was miserable.” – A5KALIC3
“Mine weren’t this extreme but they had an obsession with not wasting time. During summer my mom enrolled us in lots of summer activities so we wouldn’t be at home ‘doing nothing.'”
“They turned us into very productive people BUT my sisters and I feel really guilty when doing something that could be classified as ‘wasting time.'” – smgt90
“I don’t know if you’re TA but I would hate to have you as a parent.” – Unit-00
After reading through the comments, the OP did not agree with their rating.
“This was the exact response I expected.”
“I showed my kids this thread, too. They said they spend 30 minutes on chores most days and 15 minutes running.”
“The 15-year-old relaxes most of the day and said the only time he feels like a parent is when the younger two fight and he has to break them up.”
“90% of the day is playing and 10% is work.”
“They don’t swim unless they are all together.”
“They are literally learning to clean up after themselves. If they make a mess, it’s cleaned up.”
“I’m glad so many of you are in the financial situation to afford nannies, summer camps, daycare, etc., but that ain’t us.”
“We work together. When mom and dad are home, we do chores, too, and on the weekends, we all play together.”
Though the OP was insistent that this routine was working for their family and saw the value in what it was teaching their kids, the subReddit was not so sure.
Rather, they were concerned about the burden being placed on the 15-year-old, not only to run, do chores, and care for two younger siblings throughout most of the day every day, but even the burden a strict schedule could have on younger children.
Not to mention, this was the youngest any of these kids would ever be again. There would only be so many summers until they would be adults with jobs that potentially wouldn’t allow for slow summer days.