Schooooooooool’s out for summer! This may be a song of celebration or sheer panic for you and your family!
As a working parent, you may be relieved when summer approaches because it means less school commutes, less craziness in the morning getting everyone ready, less helping (or at least trying to help) with homework, less school functions, field trips and volunteer opportunities. You may feel like you have 150 less things to do and let freedom ring. Your anxiety may decrease and you may be looking forward to making memories at the pool, or hiking your favorite hike with your littles.
OR…you might be that parent who is totally freaking out, because whether school is in session or not, your life is still crazy, you still have to be out the door at 6:45am, and now you have to figure out where your beloved kiddos are going to go while you work. This creates more finances, you have to plan it out, work around it, and it could be very stressful. You might feel guilty, overwhelmed, and FOMO just to name a few.
AND…you could be experiencing a little bit of both and then some!
No matter where you land on the spectrum, as a working Mom myself, I know its difficult juggling everything, so I wanted to provide 8 tips to consider to make your life easier.
Don’t overbook yourself and your kids! We have a MAJOR problem with this in the U.S. We have a “more is better” mentality, and I think we need a mind shift here. Keeping your kids active, connected, learning and stimulated is very important but it can absolutely can be overdone folks. Kids needs quiet time just like you do. They thrive on routine and running around until 9:30pm every night is just as hard on them as it is on you. They benefit from being bored to remember they have access to their fascinating imagination. They love to play tag in the streets with the neighbors, learn social rules and how to stay safe without us hovering over them every minute. So….if you want them to have an extracurricular, sweet! But they don’t need everyday to feel like Disneyland. Do yourself a favor and sign them up (and therefore you) with half of what you are used to and you can thank me later.
Building upon #1, if possible, take one week day off. I know this is impossible for many of you! But if you are in business for yourself, as painful as it may seem, clear one day during the week and spend it with your kids, handling appointments, getting caught up, and making memories. I have been fortunate enough to do this with my son his entire 14 years of life, both as a corporate leader and as an entrepreneur. Knowing I have that mid-weep moment to breathe completely calms me the rest of the week. Now if this is not realistic, I hear you, I get it. Can you request one week day off a month? Have an extra 4 day weekend somewhere? You need something to look forward to!
ASK FOR HELP! No need to drown on your own. I encourage you to sit down with your partner and plan the summer out, and each Sunday plan out the next week to ensure everything is covered, workload is balanced, and communication is open. Take turns taking the kids to their camps and activities. Take turns doing special things with the kids while the other parent gets that bike ride in. And reach outside your home for help. Perhaps you can set something up with a neighbor, a daycare swap, carpooling, even watching each other’s kids/ having play dates each week to give one another a break. If you are in a bind, ask for help. I know one of the stressors is when we have to work and our kiddos are sick. Is there someone you know, friends, family, neighbors, school connections, etc who can help you?? Get resourceful and reach out You do not need to be on an island alone.
Stay connected. Sometimes summer feels like a non-stop kids camp, but don’t forget your social needs too! I know you are OVER scheduling and planning, but what’s one more plan to meet your friends for drinks, a game, a walk or something you enjoy. We are hard wired for connection and if we spend the entire summer working and being with kids, we’ll feel it emotionally. Join a group for parents and their kids if you don’t have daycare. Make friends at the gym and drop your sweet pea off at the gym daycare. Ask the neighbor over for coffee. Plan a BBQ with your work friends, and their families if that works better. Just get out and get connecting with other grown ups!
Order In. No one’s going to die if you don’t cook every night. After a long day of dropping kids off, working, picking them up and whatever else you have planned in the afternoon/ evening, dinner might be the thing that puts you over the edge. So, order in. Easy preparation and clean up. Waking up to a dirty kitchen the next morning is immediate anxiety provoking madness and can have us feeling like we are never caught up. So just do it. Pizza it is…again…give yourself a break. No judgement or shame in that game.
Either hire a cleaning company or put those kiddos to work! Another thing to remove from your never ending list of things to do is the cleaning and laundry. Kids are very capable of picking up after themselves, picking up their rooms and bathrooms and helping around the house. Perhaps you implement a routine where before the kids get to play they take 30-60 minutes to help around the house and if they do all their chores each day in the week, they get a reward on Sunday. OR if your kids are not in the age range to help, hire some help. Can you see my pattern here, I am trying to help alleviate things for you to do, and declutter your mind so you don’t go crazy this summer. Create more time in your life to do things that you enjoy, that matter, that are in alignment with your values. If all you are doing are working, chores and managing children, you will burn out, probably lose your patience, not be present and miss out on the small wonders of summer with your kids at this age.
Plan one special thing to do with your family that you call look forward to. Ask your family for their input, or give your kids the task of planning it out. Is there somewhere you have always wanted to go? You can stay loyal or get out of town. It can a weekend getaway or a week at the beach. Doesn’t matter, its just something to break up the summer. You can even do a staycation and camp out in your backyard. This doesn’t have to be extravagant and expensive.
No matter what, stick to your wellness habits and routines. Just because kids are home, doesn’t mean yoga, meditation, and your massages are out the door. Its even more imperative you stick to these self-care routines to maintain your psychological well being. If you need to, get up before your family, stay up a little late after they all hit the hay, work out on your lunch, or leave the kids with your partner or neighbor and do the things that you know create some sense of balance in your life.
Remember your kiddos are watching your every move and learning from you, so release the guilt, and get to your routine. You are so important and will be the best working parent you can be if you are taking care of yourself. Summer can be extremely difficult and also a ton of fun. Feel empowered to make some adjustments that allow you to manage the transition in a way that is less chaotic and that creates space for enjoyment. And you are not doing it right or wrong, you are just doing the best you can and that is more than enough!