As I’m writing this, I’m preparing for my kids to return after being gone for a month this summer. And part of me is freaking out inside.
It’s hard shifting the gears from 0 to 60 with the transition from an empty nest to a gaggle of kids that comes with divorce. I know some of you are rolling your eyes already, wondering why the heck I’m writing an article on surviving summer with kids if I’ve just enjoyed a luxurious month without them. Before you completely disengage, I’ll counter that I’ll be running the parenting show virtually solo for the remainder of the summer.
And regardless of any of our circumstances, whether we’re full-time or part-time working moms, whether we’re business owners or stay-at-home moms, divorced, married, or somewhere in between, keeping everything—and everyone—afloat during the dog days of summer when school is out and life must go on, is an undertaking. If there’s anyone out there who understands the madness of it, it’s other mothers, so I reached out to some of our contributors for their insights on work/life balance during the summer. Here’s what they had to say:
“For me, it’s about recognizing that I can’t get as much done during the traditional nine-to-five during summer. I tend to work more early mornings or later nights during the summer and I know it will take me longer to get things done, so I work that into my work scheduling, too, but also dedicate specific time to work (the intricate balance of camps, VBS, etc.) and specific time to [have] fun (no work allowed) so that summer gets to be summer and I can still make money.” —Dawn | PR Professional and Contributor to SA Woman
“During the school year, it feels like we get into a rut: on Tuesdays we go to this appointment, on Thursdays we go here. I long for summer when we can change up the schedule. But then summer comes and every week has a different schedule: this week has camp, this week does not. I have moments when I wonder, ‘Am I supposed to be somewhere else? What am I supposed to be doing right now?’ Eventually that not-knowing becomes the new normal. And then school starts again. Sigh.
Being a member of a co-working space is a huge help. The Impact Guild has big rooms that I can reserve, where I can have a meeting while my kids sit at another table and play on their iPads. Another survival strategy is to meet at a museum (the Witte is my favorite) and let the kids play while I have a walking-and-talking meeting. It helps that I work in education, so most of my contacts are comfortable around children and distractions.
My kids need a lot of exercise every day. In the summer, we often exercise in the evening at the pool. It feels weird to do that, because during the rest of the year we often play after school, but in the summer it’s too hot in the afternoon. Some kids become night owls so they can play outside late into the evening. So, be flexible about when things happen during the day or night.” —Inga | Founder of San Antonio Charter Moms
“Working full-time in the summer is about taking the mental and emotional acceptance during the school year that you can’t do and be everything and pumping that up on steroids. However, I always gravitate toward neglecting work and other responsibilities in favor of the kids and family time. My mother is a teacher, and I remember so vividly those long, lazy summers at home with her and have always wanted so desperately to recreate that for all of the kids. Working full-time sometimes gets in the way of that, and I struggle with it, but dosing myself up with the proper acceptance and expectations is a huge help.” —Bridget | Full-time Litigator
The key takeaways for balancing work and kiddos during the summer? You’ve got to change your expectations of how smoothly everything’s going to go. Have contingency plans, be flexible, and don’t forget to make time to enjoy your kids. I’ll be bulk planning out our meals and times when I’ll need help with childcare, as well as making the most of the time I do have to work—and planning some fun family activities in between it all. How do you thrive through the summer as a working parent?
Here are some other posts that may prove to be helpful: