Being a working mom is all I’ve known, and there are days I’m great at balancing a career and a home and a preschooler and a marriage, and there are days when I definitely feel like a failure. I’ve always known I wouldn’t be a stay-at-home parent. For our family, that just doesn’t work. And that’s okay. However, I was raised by a stay-at-home mom and when summer hits each year, I get a little bit antsy. I want my daughter to know the carefree summer days with neighborhood friends, early mornings at swim team, and late nights at the rec softball fields, like I did as a child.
There’s nothing that will change about the fact that my husband and I both work full-time, so I decided I had to come up with ways that work best for our family to enjoy all that summer has to offer.
Hack #1: Don’t play the social media comparison game. It took a couple of summer seasons for me to really master this one, but now that we’re in year four, I’m doing pretty well. Seeing friends enjoying a Wednesday morning at the pool or a Friday afternoon at the zoo when I’m stuck in an office used to be hard. I wanted to be able to do those fun things, too. Sometimes just scrolling past those posts when I’m having serious FOMO (fear of missing out) helps. Other times, when I would pick up my phone during a lunch break, I read a book instead, or work on a project on Pinterest, or plan some element of an upcoming vacation.
Hack #2: Make a plan. When I’m feeling the summertime stuck-in-an-office blues, I spend some time looking up events we can attend or places we can go on our free weekends, or even on a summer weekday evening after work. We don’t get to do as many things or do fun things as many times as we may like, but we try to work in a trip to a fun pool at least once a week, outdoor movies or concerts on the weekend evenings, lake day trips with friends for Sunday funday, and at least one special trip to Worlds of Fun and the Kansas City Zoo.
Hack #3: Make some concessions. In order to pack all of that summer fun into a two-day weekend, flexibility (where possible) is key. Sometimes on a Friday night, bedtime is nine instead of eight. When my daughter was almost four last summer, we found that we could occasionally skip a weekend nap when needed, in order to work in a daytime event. That has carried into this summer, also. It means an earlier bedtime and sometimes morning grumbles on Monday, but my daughter seems to do okay with it, and thankfully, she can nap at preschool during the week to make up for it. Occasionally, we get home so late that a bath to wash off the sunscreen and pool water and stickiness just isn’t in the cards. It’s not ideal, but to give my family an extra half hour of summer fun, it’s worth it.
Hack #4: Cut yourself all the slack you need. No matter what the circumstances, don’t let all that you can go, see, and do in summer get the best of you. Whether you’re a working mom or not, part of the beauty of summer is sitting on the back deck with your drink of choice while the kids play in the backyard or splash in a baby pool. Our favorite way to enjoy summer while winding down at home after a long day is to hook up the hose and turn the slide on our swing set into a water slide with a plastic baby pool at the bottom. My daughter (and the dog) will play for hours while the adults put their feet up and enjoy the sunshine. We aren’t going anywhere or crossing anything off of my never-ending list of things I want to do this summer, but we are outside having fun and putting our feet up for a few minutes. It’s the break all of us need from the go, go, go that busy lives bring.
Hack #5: If you can, take a day off. I know that, unfortunately, this just isn’t an option for all families. But if it is a possibility for you, choose a random summer day and play hooky. Plan a day at the pool or a trip to a local attraction that gets too busy on the weekends and head out. Even if all you can swing is a half day, it will get you some weekday summer fun and take some of the stress off the weekend time, too.
Hack #6: Find summer activities at times that cater to working families. While it takes more research than finding traditional summer options, there are most definitely opportunities out there. This year my daughter is attending art camp through her preschool once a week on Tuesday mornings, and she is taking swimming lessons through our local community center on weekday evenings. She loves the “extras,” and I love that she is getting a taste of summer fun.