Balancing summer break and mom guilt

Mom guilt intensifies when summer break rolls around!

This summer, my kids are 6 and 9. It’s also the first summer I’ve had very much work to do in nearly a decade. With my youngest starting kindergarten last school year, I decided to accept more freelance writing and editing projects like I did full-time before I had children.

All of this combines to me working to find a good balance this summer break between getting work and responsibilities done and hanging out with my kids.

For some reason, parents of my generation tend to feel responsible for entertaining our children. That sounds silly and most of us would say that isn’t a bit true, because we don’t really intend it to be that way. Yet, here we are saddled with mom guilt.

Feeling the guilt

Even though I don’t feel like it’s my job to entertain my children, I feel guilty when I don’t. It isn’t my job to be their playmate or to make sure that they have something to keep them busy or engaged all the time. We are very intentional, in fact, about keeping our schedule from getting too busy so that our kids can have downtime on their own.

So feeling having mom guilt for saying no to playing with my children because I have work to do, chores to do or maybe just don’t feel like playing at the moment seems crazy. But, it happens to me and I’d guess it happens to most moms.

Because the flip side is that we know our babies are growing up. My kids are different this summer than they were last summer. I know that all too soon they won’t want me to play with them. Much sooner than I want, they won’t even want toys to play with any longer. So I don’t want to miss a moment.

Perspective on what they really need

Yet, isn’t it important for my kids to see that the world doesn’t revolve around them and that I don’t revolve around them? It is. I know it is. I know my own parents didn’t spend their summers playing with and entertaining me every single moment.

My dad was busy working long days. My mom was home with us on summer break, and she still had household chores and such to do. I remember spending hours playing school or Barbies or even library in my bedroom. I remember making up dance routines. I remember having really good summers!

There were certainly times that my parents played with me and did things with me. They were (and still are!) good parents. But I don’t know that they felt obligated to make sure I was entertained.

Figuring out the balance

And that’s the balance I’m trying to sort out. How do I make their childhood special and memorable without making my life all about theirs? How do I make sure the see what good work ethic looks like? How do I not miss a moment? How do I enjoy them and not make them feel like a burden or distraction to my work?

It’s a tricky balance. Honestly, I’ve been praying about it since the kids were in the last couple of weeks of school. Because I don’t want to get through their childhoods and regret that I didn’t spend more time with them.

This summer I am going to be intentional about making my kids figure out what to do with their own time a couple of hours each day while I work from home. But I am also going to show them that they are a priority and take time to do fun things with them.

I am going to be there. We are going to make memories in the small moments. I don’t know what they will think when they’re grown up. I hope they can look back and say they had good summers. I am almost positive they aren’t going to look back and say, “I wish my mom entertained me more.”

All they want and need is my love. And that is the easy part. My love is something they will always have completely every moment of every day. That doesn’t require a bit of mom guilt!

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