Summer break for the kids means different things to different people.
For some, it’s long hours at the pool, mid-afternoon matinees, trips to the park or to the library.
But for many of us, summer break means something else – an entire season of mom guilt.
We may joke with other parents about having the kids home during the summer – what are we going to do with them all day?!! — but the truth is, we’d all love to spend three months of quality time with them.
But the reality is that more than 60 percent of families with minor children have both parents working full-time outside the home, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That means that the majority of us have the added pressure of finding quality childcare or activities for them over the summer months.
The guilt comes in when we feel like we’re leaving our kids unable to participate in things their friends might be doing because they have a parent at home.
We want our kids to have a carefree summer break, and we want to fill their days with time at the pool and park or just running through the backyard sprinkler.
But what we need to remember is that we are likely feeling guilty for no reason.
Being a working mom (or dad) just makes us more aware of what we might be missing – and it’s usually harder on us than the kids.
We also need to remember that the kids will be fine. You’ve probably found the best childcare option you possibly can for your kids over the summer, and their caregiver is likely finding lots of fun activities for them to do.
Stay-at-home moms may be able to spend more time with their kids over the summer, but they are also likely overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to fill all those hours themselves.
It’s an adjustment for all of us.
We all must do our best with the circumstances we have – and there’s no place for guilt when we’re all doing the best we can!
Now, if you do work full-time outside of the home and are looking for some ways to find a good balance, here are a few tips.
Talk to your employer before the school year ends and see if you may be able to take advantage of a temporary change in your work schedule.
Could you work from home one or two days a week, come in early so you can leave in the early afternoon, or complete deadlines from home after the kids go to bed?
Workplaces are becoming more family-friendly every day, especially as so many jobs are done on the computer. It never hurts to ask!
If that’s not an option and you don’t want the kids in daycare all day over the summer, network with neighbors and friends who are in the same situation.
Do you know a college student home for the summer who could come to your home and watch the kids?
Or is there a neighborhood mom who would love to have some company for her own kids during the day?
Talking with people you know and trust is a good place to start.
A combination of these may also be an option.
Maybe a neighbor’s teenager can stay with the kids in the morning and then drop them off with your regular caregiver or daycare center in the afternoon. That way, they could sleep in a bit, play in the backyard, have lunch – and give you a break from having to get everyone out the door in the morning!
If you have parents or in-laws close by – or are friendly with a retired couple in the neighborhood — ask if they can take the kids a couple of hours per week to go to the park, movies, or library.
And while it may not be ideal, you and your spouse can discuss juggling days off during the summer, doubling the amount of time they have a parent home, as opposed to taking a joint vacation.
Above all, remember you are not alone. Each family has their own circumstances to deal with.
Good support, patience, and acceptance and gratitude for our unique situations can help erase “summer mom guilt.”
Although summer break can bring new challenges, working together – whether as a family or a community – helps everyone to make the most of it.
(h/t Mommy Underground)