But as a mother that works full time, the coming of summer isn’t as joyful and freeing as it used to be for me. In fact, life for me gets more complicated, as there is no longer a bus service to take my older child to school, so on Monday I will inherit one extra drop off and one extra pick up each day. My kids are at the ages where they can’t be at the same camps. That’s 20 drop offs and pick ups per week. Of course the camps aren’t close to preschool. I’m going to be putting a lot of miles on my car this summer.
Then, there is the logistical nightmare that the camps my daughter will be going to have hours from 9-4 or 10-3. I work 8-5. Who made the decision for short camp days?! Are us full time working parents really in the minority with our working hours? These abbreviated childcare hours mean that I will need to get up early, work from home in the morning, and then leave work early and work from home in the evening. Thank goodness I have an employer that allows me to do that, but it’s just that much more complexity to my days.
Then there are the activities — like the swim meets at three in the afternoon. Once again, I have to juggle all kinds of things at work in order to make that work. My daughter’s swim team group has practice during the week between 9-10 in the morning, which of course we can’t do. Hence, she is swimming this summer in a “special” time slot for kids that have working parents, which just leaves me feeling guilty that she can’t swim with the full team.
I know I’m whining. I’m lucky to have a good and flexible job. It’s totally a first world problem. I have to admit, though, that this is the time of year that I kick myself for not choosing a career that has the summers off. Back when I was choosing what to study in college, I didn’t understand what it would be like to spend the majority of my summers inside, in an office without windows, in a temperature controlled room with fluorescent lights and staring at a computer screen. I didn’t understand that even though you’d likely make less money in careers that are off for the summer, you’d be rich in time, which I now realize is way more important than money. I didn’t understand how much it would suck to not be able to spend leisurely days with my kids at the beach or at the pool, or take a long, meandering road trip. Instead, I’m still in the grind of getting them up, lunches packed, sunscreen slathered on their wriggling bodies and shuttling them out the door to childcare.
This is the time of year when my Facebook feed makes me green with envy. All of my teacher friends and stay at home mom friends are celebrating not having school. They’re going on long vacations, posting pictures from the beach at Tahoe, taking lovely hikes and doing great art activities. I ask the preschool teacher what she’s doing for the summer, and she replies, “I’m going to travel.” And I’m working. My kids are at “camp”, which is really glorified childcare. We’re not together.
Why aren’t we Americans more like our European counterparts that take a full month off in the summer?! I may be able to squeeze in a few 3 day weekends and one quick trip home to visit my parents, but 95% of the summer you’ll find me in that windowless office.
So, if you are one of the lucky people that doesn’t have to work in the summers, just know how lucky you truly are. Appreciate how rich that extra time with your children makes you. And maybe in all your free time, you could do something nice for your friends that are working through the summer. Have them over for a barbeque or a drink, as those of us working full time with kids in the summer are still trying to keep our heads above the surface.
Are there any other moms out there that fill this way? Misery loves company — share your thoughts with us in the comments! We’d like to hear from the moms at home with their kids in the summer as well — is the grass really greener on the other side, or does having your kids with you all summer exhaust you to the bone?