Summer is supposed to be a time of fun, relaxation, and sunshine. But for many working moms, it can also be a time of stress, guilt, and chaos. How do you juggle your professional responsibilities with your kids’ needs and wants?
Back in March, I eagerly sat at my computer, watching the clock, and waiting for camp registration to open. I was determined to be the first mom on the site and pick the best camp options for my daughters. To my horror and dismay, all the camps were full. I felt a rush of panic roll through my body. I had gotten the registration date wrong.
In the end, it worked out, and my daughters have a loving and safe place to go this summer, but we all know that panicked feeling as the end of the school year approaches and the uncertainty and inconsistencies it brings.
For many of us, our summers consisted of sleeping in, popsicles in the backyard, and riding our bikes around with the neighborhood kids. Now, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, over 60 percent of households in the United States are dual-income households. This means that there are a large number of households participating in the summer camp scramble that leaves parents feeling anxious, drained, and guilty for not spending more time with their children during these beautiful summer months.
Here are some tips from a full-time perinatal therapist, business owner, and mama of two on how to survive these precious, but anxiety-provoking, summer months.
The key to a successful summer is planning. As soon as possible, figure out your work schedule, your kids’ activities, your childcare options, and your budget. Try to align your work hours with your kids’ camps or classes or arrange for flexible or remote work if possible. Book your babysitters, nannies, or relatives in advance, and have a backup plan in case of emergencies.
Another essential skill for working moms is communication. Make sure you communicate your expectations and boundaries to your spouse, boss, co-workers, clients, and kids. Let them know when you are available and when you are not, and what you can and cannot do. You are a human raising other small humans–you do not need to be afraid to let that be known at work.
Create routines and rituals.
Routines and rituals can help you and your kids stay organized and focused during the summer. I allow my children to stay up later in the summer and we start our days later in the morning. This is not just for their benefit, but also for mine. I want to be able to take them to the pool or the park after work and enjoy some of these beautiful summer days with them.
Take care of your mental and physical health.
I hear from my clients that they often lose their motivation for their routine in the summer, due to all the juggling. Your routine is just as important as the children’s. I often take work off on Fridays in the summer–even if my children are at camp–to enjoy some ME time and mentally and physically prepare to be the best version of myself for the wonderful, but chaotic, summer weekends.
Celebrate the small wins.
Finally, remember to celebrate the small wins that happen every day during the summer. Maybe you finished a project on time, your kid learned a new skill, or you were able to take an amazing family vacation up north. Whatever it was, acknowledge it, appreciate it, and share it with others. These small wins can boost your mood, motivation, and confidence, and make you feel more fulfilled as a working mom.