As I sit in my freezing office with a heating blanket on high, my daughter builds a cabin in the woods in 90 degree Oklahoma heat. As I build camaraderie with my team during a huddle, my daughter chants “I Said a Boom Chicka Boom,” in her valley girl voice. As I read and respond to hundreds of emails, my daughter learns to kayak. I feel gloomy. She feels happy. I suffer from a self-diagnosed disease called Working Mom (WOM) Summer Gloom. Do you?
Some days you dream of playing Marco Polo and lathering on sunscreen. Say hello to the gloom. Some days you breathe a sigh of relief to be in the air conditioning with back-to-back meetings. Say good-bye to the gloom. The WOM Summer Gloom pendulum swings. No matter how much you enjoy your career and your work family, it is real to feel guilt, sadness, fear of missing out and jealousy of not being with your kids during their summer fun.
You have my permission to sit in the gloom and process the emotions that you feel with the goal to determine the root cause for you. It will be different for each of us. For me, the root cause is my love language of quality time. A joyous summer of fun activities equates to lots of missed quality time and depletes my love bank account. No matter what the root cause is, you must reset your focus to the lessons that you are teaching your kids as a working mom.
A mom’s career is inspirational. Your kids develop an understanding of work ethic and appreciation for career commitment by watching you. A visit to your workplace bring excitement. An invitation to your company family night makes them feel part of your eight to five world. Find your passion! Find your energizer! Teach your kids the joy that a rewarding career brings!
A paycheck is required. We all have heard the phrase about money does not grow on trees. I have to believe that most kids today think that is truth. You swipe a credit card or scan your phone to pay. Money is not tangible; it is invisible, especially to kids. You can provide them the opportunities to do the fun summer camps because you show up every day to earn your paycheck. Show your kids the cost of the camp and how many hours you worked to pay for it!
Intentional family time is a top priority. Evening and weekend schedules tend to be less full during the summer months. This margin allows for more time to take a hike, go to a trampoline park, explore a new restaurant or practice the new skill learned together. And remember, it is healthy to take time off work to be with your kids. Time passes by quickly during the season of raising responsible citizens. Work will always be there. Take a vacation day to rejuvenate and reconnect with your kids!
Like me, you will live vicariously through your kids’ summer camp experiences and monitor your WOM Summer Gloom. Inspire the importance of having a fulfilling career. Emphasize the value of hard work and financial security. Experience fun together on evenings and weekends. And remember, my friend, the WOM Summer Gloom will pass!