Matter of perspective

We’re just about two weeks into the summer holiday and already I feel the effects of it on my purse! Our children look forward to summer probably more than they do to Christmas and I must admit that I appreciate not having to pack lunch boxes and think about what to give them for school. Then there’s the added benefit of not having to get up at the crack of dawn and fight traffic to get them to school on time.

However, summer must be the most expensive time of year, including Christmas. If your children are at home (especially if you have teenagers) they’re constantly eating and then complaining that there’s nothing in the house to eat. I’m finding myself in the supermarket about three times a week and buying mostly snacks.

Then there’s the going out. Teenagers seem to think that because it’s summer they can go to every party and event. Well I believe I’ve showed my daughter the error of her thinking but she still tries. There’s always some party happening or the cinema or the beach that involves money. One would think that going to the beach would be free but of course if they’re there all day they have to eat.

Nowadays there don’t even seem to be that many free parties anymore. Even the teenagers are holding parties and charging an admission fee. I think that’s very enterprising really and I’ve told my daughter that she should do the same and use the social media that she’s constantly on to advertise it.

I must say that she really wanted to get a job this summer to fund her summer lifestyle and she prepared her CV and several letters and hand delivered them to several shops and boutiques in an upscale mall but in there was like a ghost town so needless to say that was unsuccessful. To tell the truth things are so hard in many businesses right now that they can barely afford their regular staff, far less hire teenagers for the summer.

This year I decided to do the uniform thing early so I bit the bullet and went into town this week for my son’s uniforms. I guess I’ve been spoiled because for the last few years my son has been in the same uniform and I’ve just had to add a shirt or two from year to year or a pair of shorts. However, now that he’s going to secondary school I had to buy a whole set of new uniforms from epaulettes down to socks. I haven’t even bought the shoes and belt yet and I almost had to take out a mortgage to outfit him! Well I don’t believe in getting new things when the old ones are still good, especially in these times, so the school bag, pencil case etc will be going on to the new school.

I know I’m getting on in age, but I remember summer holidays where we would just hang out at friends, playing games like jacks with small stones, Chinese skip with elastic from your mother, or hopscotch — all free entertainment. Now there seems to be very little of that and instead a host of summer camps of all descriptions where there is some cost involved, all designed to keep our young ones occupied and entertained. That is unless you’re a teenager and then there seems to be nothing really for that age group. That’s free advice for someone who wants to capitalise on an unmet need in the market.

For those fortunate enough to be able to travel, you can factor in the cost of a family holiday. I understand that many hotels have quite low occupancies right now so staying in Barbados is definitely a cheaper alternative to travelling and so you can opt to enjoy a week of luxury right here and discover what tourists have been experiencing for years. One summer before we had children, my husband and I had a Bajan holiday and explored places that we had never been before and it was wonderful.

The great thing about summer is that it gives you time to do things that you were thinking about doing all year but never got around to. This is a great time to do a major clean out of your house. I’ve just started going through my house room by room and I’ve almost got a skip filled with junk. It’s amazing what you collect over the years. The stuff that we don’t use anymore that’s still good I’ve got lined up for the school fair but there’s also the possibility of holding a garage sale if I have the energy after the clean up.

So like everything in life, summer is what you make it. It’s all a matter of perspective.

* Donna Every is a motivational speaker, business trainer and the author of the books What do you have in your house?, The Promise Keeper and Arise and Shine. She has a degree in Mathematics, is a Chartered Accountant and has an MBA. She is the Managing Director of Arise Consulting Inc. and Project Manager for the Education and Talent Development Pillar of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation.

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