July on the Burbstead: A Baby-batical

Last summer was jam-packed with adventures: within a month, we camped in Michigan, took a steam ferry to Green Bay, and soon after camped at Mammoth Caves and viewed the solar eclipse in totality. Shortly thereafter Neil headed to India, and the kids and I went camping again. Whew!

This summer we’re taking a completely different approach to adventures. The beginning of summer saw me trying to survive the ninth month of pregnancy with two kids out of school, trying to pack in summer fun at the lake and visiting friends as much as possible, all while Neil did a complete DIY bathroom remodel. After our baby girl came, Neil started his month-long “baby-batical”. In other words, he took all his vacation time plus his week of paternity leave and is keeping the big kids busy.

How did he pull it off? He talked to his boss, then repeated “I won’t be in in July” like a mantra to make sure expectations were clear.

His plan? Help with the baby of course, but also keep the big kids busy and enjoy summer. The day we came home from the hospital, he printed off a blank July calendar and start penciling in activities from the list he’d started beforehand.

Let me just tell you, this arrangement is the way to have a baby! I’m getting spoiled, taking naps, reading books!, and even writing this blog post! And actually keeping up on basic household tasks since he’s taking care of big kid childcare and grocery shopping. Baby is also enjoying lots of undivided attention and snuggles from mom.

And of course the big kids (and Neil) are having the best summer ever. In addition to visits from family and friends, they’ve enjoyed a Fourth of July parade, party, fireworks, and going to the fireworks store; weekly kids’ movies at a local theater; lots of time at the lake with their friends; lots of creeking; pool parties, play dates, sleepovers, epic bike rides, and baseball games. They’ve also gone on a train ride and pontoon boat; went to a water park, an amusement park, the county fair, and a trampoline park; and visited an old growth forest, one of the Great Lakes, a science center, and went camping. And read The Goblet of Fire and went to a Harry Potter festival.

How much is all this entertainment costing? You know us. If there’s a cheaper way to do something, we’ll find it. We agreed ahead of time that we were willing to spend on more kids’ activities this summer since we weren’t taking a vacation. (Although having a baby costs more than a vacation!) However, there are so many free and cheap kids activities, we haven’t spent much yet.

Neil found a movie theater offering $1 kids movies once a week in the summer (they are not new releases). We got our lake passes this year as a Christmas gift. The train ride is $5 instead of $25 if you ride your bike one way. Baseball game tickets for the local AA team are about $5. And a friend generously offered discounted passes to the local water park. Our reciprocal museum pass ($58 per year) got us into the science center, which would have run close to that much for one visit!

The kids have also collected lots of free, half-price, or BOGO coupons from the library reading program and the week-long Vacation Bible Camp they attended, for both activities and restaurant meals.

Neil also put most of the finishing touches on the bathroom while the kids were at a sleepover with their friends. Pics forthcoming. And starting looking for a mini van–more on that soon!

Taking this month off has been perhaps the best way we’ve ever flexed our financial flexibility. Even though it didn’t end up costing us in terms of income, it was a successful foray into taking a big chunk of time off work. That in itself requires some flexibility. And it’s confirmed that it could be worth forgoing a couple weeks’ pay in the future. After all, we value family time, adventure, and travel highly. And who doesn’t feel a bit bereft upon taking their first real job and realizing you’re facing thirty or forty years without childhood’s glorious three-month summer break?

What do you think of the idea of taking a month off each year? What would you do with the time?

9 Responses to “July on the Burbstead: A Baby-batical”

  1. Brian says :

    Congrats on the arrival of your baby girl! Glad to hear the entire family is well. What a great way to welcome her home with lots of extra help. I like the idea of taking extended periods of time off from my 9-5, but I think I wouldn’t like the other 11-month stretch. I like breaking it up over the course of the year. It is good that most companies are adding paternity leave to help families maxing their time off when the baby arrives.

    • Kalie says :

      Thanks! Yeah, I don’t think 11 months with no time off would be great. We did go on vacation in March as well, and his vacation time resets by December.
      I am glad to hear of so many companies finally offering paternity leave.

  2. Tonya says :

    I feel like I’m kind of in that made with being unemployed at the moment. I am still searching for full-time jobs in Boise, but I’m sure it will be better once I move there. Until then, I’m just planning my move and getting in shape. I’m NOT being quite as frugal as you though. lol! That’s great Neil was able to do that and give you some much-needed time to bond with the new baby! Sounds like a pretty fun summer!

  3. Scott says :

    There is nothing better than carving out time to spend with your kids, especially when they are on the young side, so it is great you figured that out for this year!

    In my prior corporate job I always had 4-weeks of vacation, but used it up every year. I’d love to have used it in one chunk but there was always a reason to take a day off here or there to deal with the kids or our home or to coincide with school holidays. I never thought of asking for unpaid leave and I wonder if they would have been OK with it. I guess I’ll never know…

    • Kalie says :

      I’m glad we figured it out, too! We were able to take a week-long vacation earlier in the year as well. So that helped break up the other 11 months. It’s probably not very common to ask for unpaid leave, but we’d consider it in the right situation.

  4. Diana says :

    Sounds like a blast! The kids are going to want you to habe babies more often

  5. Prudence Debtfree says :

    You picked a good one, Kalie! Not all husbands would choose to do what Neil has done, and what a great bonus for all of you. As I read the list of activities he’s taken on with the “big kids”, I thought it sounded expensive (and I thought it was warranted). But of course … it was all on crazy discount. Well done:) As a teacher, I’ve taken many long summer breaks from work, and I’ve taken summer courses and taught summer school as well. The long breaks win hands down.

  6. David says :

    That’s an amazing family photo.

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