Summer can be kind of a bummer for working moms. Our kids are out of school, the weather outside is gorgeous, and yet we’re stuck at work.
Maybe we’re schlepping the kids to and from camps or daycare (what a drag), or possibly lucky enough to have a summer sitter who’s soaking up the sun with them at the neighborhood pool (grateful but a little bit jelly?).
This being my eighth summer as a working mom, I’m here to tell you not to let it get you down, my friends! With a little creativity and planning, you, too, can enjoy this season of sprinklers and sidewalk chalk with your favorite lil’ people.
Here are my top six ideas for working moms to enjoy summer with your children:
Idea #1: Adjust your work schedule.
Because the days are longer, your window of “outside” playtime is extended. If you can get to work a little bit earlier (while your kids sleep in, or your spouse takes them to daycare), you can leave a little the office earlier and have a nice, long afternoon/evening with your kids. You can take them to the pool, have a picnic dinner at the park, or just blow bubbles in the yard.
Idea #2: Play hooky once or twice.
Plan on using a day or two of paid time off “just because.” (I’m not advocating lying to your employer about being sick to get a paid sick day. Because that would be wrong. Also, you don’t want to worry about getting caught if you’re out and about with the kids.) Do something you wouldn’t ordinarily get to do on a weekday, like hit the local amusement park or take a day trip somewhere you’ve always wanted to explore.
Idea #3: Do a lunchtime picnic or afternoon ice-cream break.
If you work close enough to where your kids spend their days, you might be able to swing a lunch hour or coffee break to hang with them. I’m planning to ask our sitter to bring them to a park that’s close to my office, and we’ll meet up for a “fast food” picnic and playground time. They’ll think it’s neat to see Mom in the middle of a work day, and you’ll appreciate the kid time, too.
Idea #4: Take a real family vacation.
Whether you have the budget for a beach-bound getaway or a low-cost staycation, I highly recommend setting aside at least a few days of time off for some kind of family vacation. It can be so relaxing and energizing to be together, exploring new places and just enjoyng each other’s company—without the hectic chaos of daily home life. If you do end up going for the staycation option, avoid the temptation of “getting stuff done around the house” and prioritize fun family activities as much as you can.
Idea #5: Plan your weekends like a pro.
Working moms usually think of weekends as time to get caught up on household chores, as well as to spend quality time with our kids. During summer, give yourself permission to do more of the latter at the expense of the former. Maybe you can bust out the laundry and grocery shopping on Friday night or Saturday morning, leaving the remainder of the weekend open for leisure. Or take one whole weekend for to-do list stuff, and make the following one all about family fun.
Idea #6: Consider a compressed or reduced workweek.
I was talking with my sister-in-law about summer kid plans, and she said she moved from full-time to a three-day workweek—just for summer. Pretty cool, right?While this might not be an option for everyone, many working moms have found ways to make a shorter workweek happen. According to flexible work expert Pat Katepoo, “The secret to getting a ‘yes’ to your request is to present an air-tight plan and proposal that provides the business case for your new compressed work week arrangement.” Check out Pat’s Compressed Workweek Proposal planning package, which you can download instantly (along with other flexible work proposals) from her website.
Fun summer family activities
With the time you do carve out for your family, how can you make the most of it? I spend a leetle bit of time on Pinterest (OK, a lot—but it’s fine! It’s my job! LOL), so I’ve discovered about a million and one ideas for summer family fun. Here are some of the coolest ones I’ve found:
- Open Ended Summer Science STEM activities from Planet Smarty Pants
- Campfire Conversation Starters from Stuffed Suitcase
- Bubble Tent (a cool place to read) from Handmade Kids Art
- Backyard Camping Ideas from Premeditated Leftovers
- Rock Activities for Kids (for outdoor play) from Playtivities
- $5 DIY Yard Yahtzee from The Pinning Mama
- Nature Scavenger Hunt from Honey’s Life
- Summer Activity Punch Cards from Thirty Handmade Days
- 101 Summer Activities for Kids from Passion for Savings
- 100 Summer Fun Ideas for the Whole Family from The Crafting Chicks
- Ice Bowling with LEGO from Lemon Lime Adventures
- Why the Slackline Is Our Favorite Backyard Activity from Imagination Soup
- The Ultimate Staycation Guide for Your Summer from My Life and Kids
- Customizable “Summer Bucket List” Calendar from A Bird and a Bean
- Creative Summer Playdate Ideas from Mom Endeavors
What are your favorite working-mom tips and tricks for summer fun?