Can you guys believe it’s almost summer?! Me either. My preschooler has already ended his school year, and my third grader is done in two days! Ack. The summer months have become a little more challenging now that I’m a work-at-home mom. When I was in an office full-time, I used to lament the fact that my kids never really got a “summer.” I mean, sure, it was hot outside, but they still had to get up early and head off to daycare or camp in the morning. Actually, most of the time, summer felt just like the rest of the year. One of the things I looked forward to the most when I started my freelance life was getting to spend the summers with my kids. It’s so nice being able to let them sleep in a bit and not be so rush-rush.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges. I still have to work, but in the summer my childcare is seriously limited. I don’t exactly need full-time childcare, but part-time care is expensive and difficult to schedule. I have spent the last three months trying to find a summer babysitter that would be able to work part-time, but had several girls back out because they wanted or needed more hours. Which I totally understand, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating! Luckily, we have found someone awesome who will be helping us out this summer with the kids, but since she doesn’t start until June, I’m basically working around my kids for the next few weeks.
I think this is a challenge we all face, whether we are work-at-home moms, stay-at-home moms, or moms who work outside of the home. It’s easy to assume the other side has it easier, but in reality, we are all dealing with frustration, messy schedules and missed opportunities. When I worked in a corporate setting (which I did for most of my career as a parent), I would be so jealous of the moms that worked from home and got to spend more time with their kids. Now that I’m working from home with a flexible schedule, I miss the continuity and availability of full-time daycare. I hate putting the kids in front of the TV so I can take a conference call or having to turn down work opportunities because I can’t find child care. In fact, I’m writing this post from inside a local play place where I’m sitting on the floor in the corner while my son runs around to burn off some energy. It’s not exactly the most inspiring place to create!
But the trade offs will always exist, no matter what parenting path you choose. There aren’t any easy answers, and there are sacrifices regardless, so I try to focus on gratitude and the positives. I get to spend the summer with my kids. I get to work and create art. I get to be there on all fronts. I get to continue to grow, through different challenges and obstacles. And most of all, I get to choose. That is a complete luxery. When I worked in my corporate job, I didn’t love what I did for a living. I was unfulfilled and uninspired. The work was good, the people were great, but I wasn’t doing what I was born to do.
These days, I love what I’m doing. Is it perfect? No. Not at all. It can be frustrating, scary and stressful at times. There are days when I want to give up and just be at home with my kids, with no client obligations. There are days when I want to go back to an office full-time. But most days, even when it’s hard, I know I’m in the best possible situation for myself and my family’s unique chemistry. And now, with long summer days looming ahead, I know I am making the right choice for me. Am I doing it all? Hardly. But I’m doing my best, and that’s got to count for something.