How to successfully manage your career and life in the summer as a working mom
As a working mom, summer can be interesting juggling acts. You may have to combine your work, with the kids being out of school, vacation planned, and the inevitable slowdown that comes with the warmer months. While it may seem like it’s all about weekend getaways, tropical vacations and happy hours, the reality is that summertime is also a serious balancing exercise for most working moms.
I used to dread summertime, wondering how to keep the kids entertained while working, packing the right way to go on vacations, having a good time, and not breaking the bank in the process. The result? Instead of relaxing and taking advantage of the summer slowdown, I would be exhausted come September.
What I learnt after many overly packed summers is to actually use a few key tips to manage my career and life as a working mom:
- Mindset first
It always starts with your mindset. If you anticipate that your summer will be exhausting and packed with to-do’s, chances are it will be. Start by taking it easy on yourself, and envision yourself actually having a good time. Let go of the anxiety of controlling every single detail, and instead allow for spontaneity and surprises to come your way. The point is, you must decide ahead of time that this will be a great summer!
- Let go of perfectionism and guilt
I know as a working mom, I tend to want everything perfectly organized and planned. I also tend to experience guilt when I’m not as productive as I thought I would be, or when the kids aren’t as entertained over the summer. The result is usually a lot of stress stemming for unrealistic pressures and expectation.
Instead, let go of perfectionism and guilt. Yes, there will be times when the kids will be bored, and it’s actually good for their creativity and overall balance. Yes, you might miss a deadline at work, or the vacation may not go as planned. It’s ok, it’s called life.
- Set expectations
While you may want to let go of unrealistic personal or professional expectations you or others may impose on you, you also have to set your own so as not to end up overwhelmed and frazzled. If you’ve asked or are planning to ask for a flex schedule at work because you have to pick up the kids at certain times, make sure to set some clear expectations as to your availability with your team and management. If you have vacation time scheduled, or need to start later or leave earlier, be sure to communicate it early enough and stand by it.
In the same way, set expectations with your family in terms of what you can and cannot do. There is no use driving yourself insane serving as the chauffeur, vacation planner, playdate facilitator, if it’s going to leave you begging for your sanity at the end of the summer.
- Have some REAL downtime
How about having some REAL downtime? Not the kind of downtime when you bring your laptop with you, or grab some unfinished work to tackle as you’re sitting poolside. Not even the kind of downtime when you check on your family and friends, scroll through Instagram, or catch up on email. I’m talking about the kind of downtime when you do absolutely NOTHING!
If you must, pencil it in in your calendar, enlist the help of your hubby or a trusted friend to watch the kids, and enjoy the pleasures of doing absolutely nothing, nada, ziltsch! The other day, I caught myself sitting at the park while the kids were busy drenching themselves in sand, and for once in a while, it was pure bliss to not do anything (and not feel guilty about it)!
- Automate, automate, automate!
Repeat after me: Technology is your friend! Which means, whenever you can, you should seek to automate as much as you can. From your bill payment, to your appointments and even certain services you get, automate, automate, automate! Not only does it free up precious brain space, but it also allows you to re-purpose all this administrative time into pure fun or well…a nap!
- Set reminders
Summers are busy for working moms! In between camp activities, vacations, work, playdates and other fun mommy activities, you’re bound to forget something. Set reminders as much as you can to help you keep track of what you have to do. I remind myself that I have kids and they must be bathed and dressed daily, because: full brain!
- Seek help
It takes a village, even in the summer! Don’t hesitate to ask for help this summer as you handle the kids, your work, the vacation planning, and everything else in between! You don’t have to do it all. Leave the kids with the hubby for an afternoon as you go read a book at the local café. Enlist the help of your family so you can take off for a girls’ getaway.
Look for a kids’ daycare at the vacation resort so you can enjoy that spiked margarita poolside. Or just hide out in the bathroom and read a page of your favorite summer read. Whatever the case is, consider seeking help so you can recharge over the summer, minus kids’ cries that is.
- Turn off social media
Unplug, unplug, did I say, unplug! There is no true relaxation unless you turn off social media. As entertaining as it may seem, it nevertheless keeps putting added pressure on us to keep informed of what everyone else is doing. Which also takes additional space in our already busy and crowded minds. This summer, challenge yourself to unplug at least once a week, and use this newfound brain space to relax!
- Stop comparing
Along the same lines as turning off social media, refrain from comparing your summer with every other working mom around. Yes, you may be vacationing locally this year while your sister is jet-setting on a yacht along the Amalfi coast. Or you may be working your behind off to launch your business while everyone else is lounging on the beach. The point is, you don’t have to do what everyone else does. You don’t really know what they’re going through, so stop comparing yourself to them. Instead, enjoy what you have, make the best of your summer, and find joy in all you do.
- Be present
Last but not least, simply enjoy the moment and be present. When you’re at the beach with the kiddos, be at the beach with the kiddos. When you’re answering that email before taking off for the day, be there to answer that email to the best of your abilities. My point is, instead of looking forward to the next moment, the next vacation, the next quiet moment, just be there enjoying the present time!
To Your Success,
The Corporate Sister.