There is a very precise 3-step process for achieving success as a working mom during the summer months, so make sure to read and follow these directions very carefully:
- Lower your expectations for yourself (in terms of productivity, sales, deadlines…basically everything).
- Give yourself plenty of grace.
- Lower those expectations a little more.
This advice comes from someone (me) who has childcare lined up 4 days/week for *most* of the summer. But as any parent well knows, even the best-laid plans (especially those concerning childcare) don’t always work out perfectly.
From the time they were 18 months old through last summer, both of my children were in daycare every day but Fridays, so summers didn’t feel much different from the school year. My son finished kindergarten in May, and luckily our daycare offers a summer camp program for school-agers, so I signed him up a year in advance.
With both kids in the same place on the same schedule all summer, I was planning on an incredibly productive 3 months ahead. Then I realized there was a 2-week gap between the school year ending and summer camp starting.
No big deal, I thought, as I packed a bag full of snacks, Legos, art supplies, and the iPad and brought my son along with me to work. That mostly worked in the short-term, and I was able to complete my in-office work while Parker entertained himself.
I was so ready to dive into writing my book, recording new songs, and doing everything else that didn’t happen when I had a child home with me once Parker started summer camp. That first day was AMAZING — I accomplished so much and was ready to get back at it the next morning.
20 minutes into Day 2, our daycare called to let me know my daughter was throwing up. But hey, at least I had that glorious one day of work…
Later that same week, my husband scheduled weekly daytime tutoring sessions for my son. I was happy to adjust my schedule accordingly to accommodate that, but it meant lowering my expectations for myself that much more.
There will be sickness. Last Thursday, I had finished ALL of my other tasks early so that I could devote the entire day to writing. Then Mia got sick (again), so I didn’t write a single word.
There will be schedule interruptions. Today, my son had a doctor’s appointment, so he spent the afternoon with me at work while I helped my coworkers paint our studio.
There will be more breaks in childcare. Thursday is Parker’s last day of summer camp. School doesn’t start until August 19, so that means 10+ days at home with me in the meantime. Mia will be home for a week before her pre-k starts on August 21.
I haven’t finished my book, recorded all the new songs, or many of the other items on my summer to-do list. I’m disappointed that I didn’t make more progress this summer where worked is concerned, but I’m happy that I was able to be flexible when necessary, and that I made some really fun memories with my kids as a result.
Next summer, we’ve decided that the kids will stay home with me full-time, minus a few short camps and activities. I’m glad I have the full school year to get used to that idea and prepare for it in advance. The hardest part about trying to work full-time is all of the unexpected wrenches thrown our way, so at least I’ll know exactly what to expect next summer.
So whether your kids are in full-time care, you are on full-time mom duty, or a mix of both, I see you. I know you are doing your best to make it work. And if you don’t feel like you are “thriving”, per se? You may need to adjust your definition of that word for now ;)