Pros and Cons of Being a Working Parent in Summer
As summer approaches, I am beginning to get a twinge of the summertime working parent blues (or “green” envy, if you will). I love my work and, most days, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But this time of year always gets me a little down in the dumps. The other day, as I was watching my daughter practice soccer, two moms nearby were discussing who had joined their swim club this year, what to bring, and basically making plans for a fun summer by the pool. I tried not to let the conversation totally bum me out that I’d be working and my kids would be in summer camp for a large part of the season. But it did. In an attempt to see both sides of the situation, I started considering the pros and cons of being a working parent in the summer.
Cons of Being a Working Parent in Summer
- Not experiencing the summer with my kids. I would love to plan fun summer day trips to the beach, museums, parks, mountains, lakes, amusement park…you name it. Sure, I can do these things on the weekend but it’s just not the same vibe as doing them on a weekday alongside other kids enjoying a carefree summer vacation.
- Not meeting and bonding with other parents. This is a big one for me. I still feel a bit of an outsider at the soccer field when other parents are talking about recent afterschool playdates, meet-ups, and activities. I thought that once Olivia entered the public school system that I would meet more parents. But, in reality, that hasn’t really happened and this bothers me the most as a working parent. That conversation between the moms about the swim club was less about my children not getting time at the pool and more a disappointment that I don’t have those same local friendships.
- No let-up on structured morning routines or bed times. If I could give up one thing about being a working parent it would definitely be the morning hullabaloo. In the summer especially, I would love to lighten up on the kids about getting dressed, eating breakfast, and getting out of the house in a timely manner. The summer routine is naturally more easygoing given a more manageable summer commute but the morning still feels rushed and hectic most days.
- Having to hear the “why do I have to go to camp today?” whine. This is similar to the “why do I have to go to school?” whine during the school year. This usually comes out towards the end of the season when the novelty of going to summer camp has worn off.
Pros of Being a Working Parent in Summer
- Less planning & running around from activity to activity. Although it would be fun to do all kinds of fun summer activities with the kids, I won’t miss the planning and inevitable running around. I like that summer camp is set and that the whole family is involved in guiding our weekend activities. And working parents hear less of “not another day at the beach, pool, etc.” and more of “let’s go to the beach, pool, etc.”
- Vacation and weekend family time is more meaningful. I’m sure that parents who spend the summer with their kids will report a million meaningful and cherished moments throughout the summer. When you have only two days per week plus a week or two of vacation time, however, every summer memory with your kids count for working parents.
- Easier transition back to school. Although I despise the morning routine in general, an added benefit of not having the luxury of a relaxed summer routine is that it’s easier to get the kids back into the swing of the school schedule.
- Not having to hear the “I’m bored and I don’t know what to do!” whine. Granted, all parents hear this whine from time to time but parents spending the whole summer with their kids report (on Facebook and quite a bit) that they could pull their hair out listening to the “I’m bored!” whine, especially in the final weeks of summer. Working parents hear your pain but at least you’re tanned and have learned how to tune the kids out by this point.
Whether you work in the summer or are able to spend the summer with your children, there are the inevitable pluses and minuses that we can all relate to. The parenting goal is really to look at the other side and to turn the cons into pros. That’s what I’ll try to do as I look forward to spending time with my kids this summer.
How about you – what are you looking forward to this summer (or glad you don’t have to deal with!)?