When I walk in my home, which, if we’re being honest, is always just a little messy, I see exactly how the day unfolded. There is my husband, music streaming from his computer as he works from home, the family Great Dane, Midnight, in hiding, likely covered in body paints from my five-year-old’s Nerf gun bullets (that fly surprisingly fast and land surprisingly hard), and food. Food tends to be in the weirdest places. While washing dishes one day, I went to move a cute blue beach pail off my kitchen counter and lo and behold… there was a strawberry glazed Krispy Kreme donut. With sprinkles. Just hanging out in the beach pail. On the kitchen counter. Oy vey!
So, when my Erin Condren planner is filled with my daily activities, but my son’s activities are essentially cut in half for the summer, what am I to do? Should I suffer severe mom guilt, because each and every moment of his day unfolds without my careful planning? Or, should I just go with the flow, donuts in beach pails and all?
A sweet mom friend of mine, Marie Watts Faile, has let go of the mom guilt.
“I had to let it go,” she said of her middle-school aged son’s lack of a schedule. “He is happiest when he has the time to just be lazy. This summer is the first on his own. I used to pay a babysitter to entertain him, and now I pay him a weekly allowance to keep up with chores. He is doing great with this and I am so happy to have less to do when I get home!”
For those of us with sweet little people who aren’t old enough to grow into that independence we are all looking forward to, here are a few tips for working moms:
- 1. Make a routine out of no routine. While I am a firm believer in children using their imaginations, dressing up and playing make believe (see below), I am also a firm believer in growth. While I know “organized” chaos may occur while I’m at work and the boys are at home, I make sure that my son and I visit the library each week and participate in the education-related activities that our time allows. I also make it a point to get with like-minded moms once or twice a week for casual play dates.
- 2. Throw a little school work in the mix. At age five, my Little loves science. Typically, I buy study workbooks for the next age group ahead to keep up with the things he’s learned in school and the things I’d like him to learn next. For the summer months, I’ve taken the time to research quick and fun science experiments for us to perform during those rainy Saturdays, or an otherwise slow-paced Monday evening.
- 3. Understand that it is okay if your child gets bored. Little girls may be different, but as my Little grows, I feel like he’s got the idea of boredom on lockdown. I’ve come home from work to find him jumping out from behind chairs and furniture in full Army gear from Halloween. He got bored, Dad is working, and he entertained himself. Kudos, kid! This is awesome and quite entertaining!
- 4. Don’t feel guilty. Your child has been in school for months, and deviating from routine is good for them. You know those days when you’re just super tired and feel the need to kick off your pumps and hit the sofa? Sometimes our kids need to do that too. You’re doing great, mom. Take a chill pill.
Marlena Rice is a busy mom and writer who lives in Tuscaloosa with her husband, Rod, and their son, Beaux William. Check out her blog at heartfullybuilt.com.