Hi! I’m Bridget. I’m a working mom. And as of noon today, summer will be in full swing at our house.
I’m so excited!
Summer is my favorite!
All things you likely hear or see as you’re scrolling through your FaceBook or Instagram feed, but none of them will be uttered by me or many other working moms. (GASP!)
Here’s why – because while many of you lucky moms are throwing your hands in the air and celebrating the beginning of summer, looking forward to staying up late and sleeping in even later, us working moms are sitting in a corner rocking back and forth trying to figure out what on earth we’re supposed to do with our kids for the next 2.5 months because the invaluable service, though government mandated, that school provides to us the remainder of the year, is now gone.
You see, the thing is, working moms don’t get a summer break. (And, many times, our kids don’t either. I know, it sucks – for both of us!). We still get up Monday through Friday and go to work, just as we did during the school year. Our work hours don’t change and our responsibilities don’t change. We still get up early, still make breakfast, and still work until 5 o’clock. In fact, the only thing that does change during the summer for working moms is where our kids are located during the day (but it’s still not with us). Likewise, our kid’s summer often feels, and many times looks, very similar to that of the school year. Now, how fun is that??? I’m here to tell you, none at all.
Let me preface this by saying, I LOVE MY JOB! Like, REALLY love my job. So this is not a knock at my job by any means. It’s just the reality that we who work full-time experience each year as summer rolls around. And, I admit, I’m fortunate enough to work in a law firm that always allows me put family first without question. I work for someone who doesn’t mind me bringing my daughter to the office in the afternoons to do homework while I wrap up my day; who understands what it means to have to leave early to get her to soccer practice or to travel a long distance for a tournament; who understands that sometimes you just need a day to hang out with your kid because they are missing you, but this wasn’t always the case. (I also get to wear shorts to work during the summer, so there’s that 🙂 )
Before changing firms almost 2 years ago, I spent 16 years in a large corporate defense firm, which I also loved very much – honestly, I did. But, it didn’t allow for the flexibility in my life that I now have. I say this to let those that might be reading and questioning my ability to understand just how hard it is to punch a strict time clock all summer know that I get it. I’ve been there. It’s not lost on me how good my work/family life is now. However, that does not take away from the self-imposed stress and mom-guilt that we working moms feel all summer.
To those stay-at-home moms or teachers that get to spend all summer loving on your babies, leave now. This post is not for you. We working moms officially hate you. I’M SO KIDDING!! DON’T leave and we DON’T hate you. We are jealous; envious even. We wish with all our mom hearts that we could be you! I get that you all have different battles to fight with your kids over the summer and I’m not suggesting that our’s is worse or somehow bigger. They’re just different. I know hearing “I’m bored” or “What are we going to do today” can suck the life right out of you. I promise, I can sympathize. I’m sure there are even some stay-at-home moms that are thinking to themselves “what I wouldn’t do to be a working mom and catch a break every now and then.” I get it. The grass is always greener…. But your frustrations seem like a gift to us working moms who suffer from the guilt of leaving our children every day to go to work, when all you really want to do is cuddle them a little longer or hang with them at the pool. To put it in perspective, those of us who have to work full-time will never get to know the joy of spending an entire summer with our children. AND IT STINKS!
Working Moms Experience Anxiety All Summer
What does summer look like for the average working mom? Camps, camps, camps and more camps, with an occasional summer sitter thrown in there if you’re luck enough to find one that’s trustworthy and responsible enough to show up on time. What does summer feel like for a working-mom? Stress, stress, stress and more stress, with a large dose of mom-guilt to boot.
If you don’t have a summer sitter or amazing grandparents living in close proximity and crazy enough to volunteer to keep your spawns all summer (God bless those grandparents!), then you have to come up with something to do with your kiddos while you grind away at work to provide for the lifestyle to which you’ve become accustom. You know, things like the essentials – food, running water, air conditioning and Netflix (and maybe a summer vacation, which you as a working mom will feel like you need another vacation afterward just to recuperate, but you won’t get it because, well….work 😉 For some your list might involve more than this. Heck, I have a laundry list of things my husband and I work for, and while that list looks different for everyone, the stress feels the same when you’re working and your little(s) are at home without you.
Now, if you have a child that hasn’t started school, or have one old enough to care for themselves responsibly without burning your house to the ground while you’re working, then you’re off the summer anxiety hook. Summer probably isn’t very stressful for you. (This is a gift. Accept it and enjoy it while it lasts.) Before my daughter started school, summer wasn’t particularly stressful for me. At that age, she simply went to daycare or summer school and loved it. She had always had dual working parents and this was simply normal life for her. It was once she was old enough to realize that other kids get to stay home hanging with their moms (and some dads) all day during the summer that the stress set in. Once kids have this epiphany, the game changes. The tone shifts. And, the mom-guilt and stress grows exponentially.
My daughter really didn’t even complain about going to summer school until she was entering 5th grade (it’s all fun activities – I didn’t force “learning” year round 🙄 ). So see, there is a window where the stress and guilt is not that overwhelming because your child is enjoying all these summer activities. I strongly urge you to take advantage of this while it lasts. In other words, don’t guilt yourself too much before the actual complaining begins, because it will. My stress level doubled once my daughter hit the age of 9 and the appeal of summer school activities disappeared. She didn’t care anymore about seeing her friends every day, as I had once sold her on. She just wanted a break from the school scene (we did summer camps primarily at our school, so I totally get her feeling this way). This is where us working moms have to get really creative. We try to find ways to care for and entertain our kids at the same time. Many times this ends up being camps – church camps, sports camps, drama camps, art camps, and, my all time favorite – grandparents’s camp. (That’s where you send your kids to their grandparents for a week.) Grandparents’s camp is a win/win. The kids get to spend quality time with their grandparents and you know they are being cared for in some of the best ways possible. Kids love it and you can stress less for at least a week. Take advantage of this camp if you have willing participants. You won’t regret it.
Bottom line, the guilt working moms feel is real. It’s a heavy burden to bare. When we are at work we want and need to be at home with our kid(s). When we are at home with our kid(s), we are stressed about what we need and should be doing at work. (And this occurs all year – not just during the summer. It’s just exacerbated during the summer months).
So, to all those moms lucky enough to stay home with your kids all summer, please don’t forget your kid’s friends who have working parents. Reach out to them. Invite them to hang out too – even if it is just in the evening. Or, better yet, invite their kids over to hang with your’s for the day. The kids will certainly enjoy it and your working mom friends will be forever grateful. Lastly, at the end of the day, when you’re tired of hanging out with your own little darlings and your working mom friend is finally home from a stressful day of balancing work and mom-guilt, share a glass of wine with her. She needs it. You need it. Heck, your kids probably need it (but for the love, don’t give it to them!!) In other words, this glass of wine is something that will benefit all involved – because we all know – if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
And, to all you working moms out there who are stressing summer more than you’re looking forward to it, you’re not alone. I’m with you. I get it. I feel your pain. It’s excruciating. You love your little people and want to spend the summer with them, and they want to spend it with you. But, you have to work in order to afford all the things that you and your family love to do throughout the year. It’s a vicious cycle that I’m still unsure how to break.
But you’ve got this! We’ve got this! So here’s to another summer of camps you could care less about and more macaroni necklaces than any 12 year old should ever be forced to make. Hang in there! It’s only 2.5 months. And when those 2.5 months are up, we will be the ones celebrating the end of summer while our enviable stay-at-home counterparts are complaining about having to wake up early to get their kids to school. 🙂
XOXO – Bridget