Imagine long, lazy days at the beach or running through the sprinkler eating popsicles. No set wake up times or schedules. Swimming, reading, hanging out with friends. Summer is a time for fun, sun, relaxation and vacation. It’s perfect…if you are a kid. If you are a parent, it’s a whole different story.
Don’t get me wrong, I love summer as much as the next person. But the challenges parents face during summer are enormous. How do we fill our kids’ days? Should we fill our kids’ days? Do we send them to camp? How do we negotiate drop off and pick up if both parents work? Are they spending too much time on their devices? How many activities should I sign them up for? Is it ok to eat ice cream for dinner? And while we are focusing on our kids, ensuring that we are filling their ample free time, ours seems to disappear into thin air.
Whether you are a working or a stay at home parent, chances are you thrive on the predictability of a set schedule. You know when your pockets of free time exist and appointments, sports and social engagements have all been pre-negotiated and written out on the family calendar (at least at my house!) But then summer arrives and my neatly scheduled calendar gets blown out of the water.
I work part time for a large corporation. Three days a week, I am a working professional; Two days a week, I am a stay at home mom. Typically, I try to run my errands, schedule doctor’s appointments, grocery shop, meal prep and visit the gym on the mornings I don’t work and my kids are in school. My Friday mornings are reserved for my Imagine Float weekly infrared sauna and cryotherapy appointments. This leaves my nights and weekends free for uninterrupted family time, sports and activities.
Given last summer’s turmoil and this year’s uncertainty, I hesitated to book summer camps for my kids. And when I finally weighed all the options and decided to send them, everything was already booked up. At work, business as usual has ramped up as well as talks of returning to the workplace.
After 16 months with a relatively blank calendar, we are full-fledged back into activities: tennis, swim lessons, soccer and riding. I’m shuttling kids back and forth to activities while reading work emails in transit and jumping on WebEx calls from the car. It was difficult to work when my kids were home but now that they are back out there, it’s a new challenge. Life suddenly feels overly hectic and I find myself shocked that we are in August and I am still struggling to find balance.
The school year provides consistency and predictability. And in the absence of that, I have found that my time and self-care routine is what has been sacrificed. It took me weeks to notice it too. I haven’t been sleeping well. I am cranky. My joints have been throbbing in pain. My energy level has been low. My body is showing signs of inflammation. I am fighting a flare of my autoimmune disease because I am not taking care of my mind and body. I am beyond burnt out.
Summer burnout is nothing new. There is a reason why there are so many memes and commercials that show parents celebrating their kids going back to school. But given the year we’ve collectively had, I feel like it hit me very early and I’ve been struggling through ever since. I realized I have not stopped. Reset. Relaxed. Recovered. I haven’t been able to find time to charge my internal batteries both mentally and physically.
As the calendar turns to August, I am making a commitment to myself to carve out some time to make my mental and physical health a priority. As parents and more specifically moms, we tend to put the needs of others ahead of our own, time and time again. But continuing to do that will only be to our detriment. My kids deserve to have a happy, healthy and energetic mom who is enjoying the summer alongside them. But in order to give them that, I need to take the time to take care of myself and my needs. You matter too!
Imagine Float, Wellness Blogger