Summer in Toronto at Camp Yash

As you may know by now, we did not enroll the kids in an official Toronto summer camp this year. Instead we kicked off Camp Yash on the 1st of July and the last three weeks have been busy ones. The main reason I chose to have the kids at home despite being a work from home mom, was because I did not enjoy the long commute to our summer camp last year (and Chris is working this year so it would ALL be on me). Also, ofcourse, paying $400 per week per child would be better spent elsewhere, like a family trip! When I first came up with this idea of running my own camp for MY kids, I wasn’t really sure about how I was going to keep the kids entertained and work at the same time. After getting through the first half of the month I’ve come to realize that we all need some balance to ensure that we have a fun and productive summer. I have been receiving a lot of questions via Instagram DMs about how I plan things out and come up with ideas so I thought I’d share ALL the details here.

 

Managing Screen Time

Let’s start with screen time because that’s a big one. While I know many parents are great at limiting their kids from being online, sadly Chris and I are not. We have come to rely on our “iNanny” to get by with our days. It’s one of the ways we manage to sleep in until noon on the weekends and how I am able to spend hours doing my work. However, this summer I didn’t want to fall into that trap and so I enlisted the help of a few services. First up, as Rogers Ambassadors and Ignite TV customers, we’ve been using the Rogers Ignite WiFi Hub and I love how this app actually pauses internet access on certain devices and sets active time limits. The kids each have 2 hours online (YouTube, Netflix, play games, etc.) and once their time is up, no more WiFi. I no longer need to monitor their screen time and remember to turn things off because the app does it for me. I’ve told the kids I have no control and that Rogers is in charge (HAH). I have also set time limits for myself for 4 hours during the work day so I can spend more time with the kids and organize the best Camp Yash. Having my own device conk out at a certain times reminds me to step away and do the rest of the activities we had planned versus being sucked into the vortex of work (especially social media work). While the kids’ devices are set to bedtime mode from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., I have unlimited access to continue working and catching up on my favourite shows, because I AM THE ADULT! On the weekends, we’ve added an additional hour to the kids’ WiFi time because it’s summer vacation and Camp Yash doesn’t run on weekends (and unlimited for me!).

Ignite hub

Now while the Rogers Ignite WiFi Hub does a wonderful job of monitoring our WiFi and giving me a report of their activity (every 24 hours), Little Monkey has outsmarted us. She has decided to download her shows to the cloud so she can continue to watch her favourites without relying on WiFi! So I still do have to parent! To learn more, visit Rogers.com.

best apps for young kids

The other thing we did was install the Lipa Learning app on the kids devices (and my phone so they can use it when we’re outside and need some help). This app does some awesome stuff like offer free educational games, digital books targeted at the 3-6 age range and has a list of ideas and instructions for various activities. This way I don’t need to worry about coming up with daily arts and crafts ideas! When I have to work a bit extra, I allow them some extra time in this app and don’t feel guilty.

 

Slotting in Daily Reading

 

A month ago, Little Monkey and I were volunteering at the Rogers Giving Together Day where we heard Jerry Horwath speak and something he said struck a chord in me. He picked up a parenting tip from a baseball player as I recall and it was about how they would make their kids read for a bit every summer day before they went on to play and enjoy the day. You’d start at 15 or 30 minutes and work up as they went up a grade each year.  I incorporated this into our daily routine and while Baby Boy (who can’t really read) is better at this task than Little Monkey, I do see them both reading daily. Little Monkey likes to read before she falls asleep and isn’t too keen to read again in the morning! So we’ve added the option of doing an activity book as an alternate option (think of all those random kids books you get at restaurants and on planes – crossword puzzles, mazes, colouring sheets).

 

Creating a Schedule 

summer camp at home with kids

Of course, I would not actually do anything if it weren’t in my calendar and so on the last day of school we sat down and came up with a plan to explore more of our city. We slotted in Toronto attractions, playgrounds and play dates but also wanted to ensure that we didn’t tire ourselves out too much so we alternated a rest day where we’d stay at home and do an activity like make bath bombs or slime. The challenge has been in actually staying at home because we’ve had great weather and friends who follow our #CampYash adventures have been scheduling in play dates on a near daily basis. I’m not complaining but I will admit that I’ve been too tired to do any work come night time. I’ve been watching TV with Chris or just passing out before my usual 11 p.m. bedtime. I’ve been trying to hit up the list of items we hadn’t done on our 23 things to do in Toronto beyond attractions list. Hopefully come end of August that entire list will be ticked off! Wish me luck!

summer camp at home schedule

I’ll soon share more about some of the experiences we’ve had but for now, I’m just trying to stay afloat. As long as my email inbox is clean and deadlines are being met, I’m not really doing too much extra work. Instead I’m trying to focus on the now, linking up with friends who have kids and trying out some Toronto spots that have been on my list for a while. Might as well use those dollars I would have spent on camp fees to eat and play our way through the city, right?

  • kristen visser
    July 20, 2019 at 9:38 am

    I did the same thing with my daughters. I kept them home this summer. My daughters have never gone to camp before actually and this year I was hoping it would be their first time experiencing it (oldest is 6 and middle daughter is 4) but it just gets way to pricey and my middle daughter is shy and I dont think she would have let me leave. She would have held onto my leg kicking and screaming. so we will hold off this year and might give it a go next. I have been keeping them busy with splash pad visits, grocery store visits (i am always forgetting something), fun in the backyard, movies and play doh

    • Yashy
      July 22, 2019 at 9:39 am

      you sounds just like me!!! Hoping the two of them keep each other busy for the most part!

  • Melissa H
    July 22, 2019 at 8:18 am

    We are staying home this summer too! I am off in the summers (working for the school board as an EA) has allowed me to spend more time with my son (who just turned 4) I almost wish I had put him into a camp for one week this summer but now we are getting into a schedule. It is hard with just one little one at home. No sleep in’s over here yet and I am his playmate since all the other kids are in Daycare or camp but we are having fun together and I have to remember to cherish this time that we have. Enjoy the rest of the summer!! Looks like you have a great trip coming up out East. Can not wait to hear all about it.

    • Yashy
      July 22, 2019 at 9:36 am

      I know how tough it is and definitely harder when you’re the playmate. Sending you lots of strength and yes, so excited for our trip which starts tomorrow night!

  • loucheryl
    July 26, 2019 at 9:41 pm

    I have put my youngest son into one 1/2 day camp for a week this summer. HIs brother has reading classes for an hour a few days a week. Other than our trip to Great Wolf Lodge, we don’t have anything else planned. We want to go to Ripleys Aquarium, the CNE, Centreville and the Zoo. We go to the local beach, parks, splash pads and wading pools all the time. That’s good enough for fun this summer.

  • Nate
    July 30, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    There are so many wonderful day camps in Toronto

  • Calvin
    January 3, 2020 at 11:24 am

    So many wonderful camps there, hope there are even more come summer again.

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