Summer... When Kids are Carefree and Working Mothers … Aren’t

Last Updated on May 21, 2021

OK.  Summer is almost here. I should be excited. I am excited.  I look forward to seeing my kids carefree, playing in the sprinklers, and determining that this is surely the summer they will figure out how to do the perfect back flip into the pool.  (Anyone else cringe at that one?  Or am I the only mom who has images of broken noses and banged heads dancing in her brain?)

So summer is almost here and I’m excited for my kids, and yet… Every working mothers knows the worry that creeps in around the corners.  How on earth are we going to make it all happen?  I want the kids to feel carefree even if I am not.

Just yesterday my 6th grade daughter started telling me all of the things she wanted to do and accomplish this summer. Some were simple — like finish the last book in the long series she’s been reading (actually, for her, the trick is getting her to stop reading!).  Some were admirable – like learning how to sew up holes in her clothes on her own (I think just maybe a few of my choice comments had something to do with that).

Others, though, made my heart start to race and little beads of sweat begin to form on my brow…these were the things that required huge time commitments on my part…things that she should get to do…things that I should try to, one way or another, figure out how to help her achieve.  So the question remains – HOW? How can I be an involved mom providing carefree summer fun for the kids and still accomplish what I need to do, professionally?

In writing the book and bible study The Life Ready Woman I saw very clearly that I cannot try to do it all, all at the same time, without major stress for me – and ultimately everyone around me.  God did not wire us that way.   We need to make good choices.  We need to learn how to prioritize – which was, in the end, a big part of the Bible Study.  And for me, I know that God has some priorities for me this summer that include work outcomes, and some that include time with my husband and kids.

Let’s talk about work, first.  Most of my stay-at-home mom friends are very sympathetic to the stress that working moms feel during the summer, but I once had a SAHM mom at an event tell me, with something like pity, that the solution was clear: I had to stop working. She shared her heart for a few minutes, and I appreciated her passion, but as I watched her walk away, I thought to myself: You should understand that for many people, that isn’t a real solution. And not just because of professional pride.   Sometimes that just isn’t God’s solution – in part because we have a specific professional calling to accomplish, and also for the purely practical reason that there are others depending on us.

Like many of you, I simply have people depending on me at work – we know the reality that in this economy, we’re all pulling together to meet deadlines or do a good job on our projects.  If my friend Marsha doesn’t see a certain number of counseling clients each day, even during the summer, less revenue comes in and the whole team takes a cut in salary.  If my friend Sandra doesn’t deliver the project her division is waiting on, her division ultimately has to shrink and six months from now, two or three people will lose their jobs.  And me… if I don’t do a good job on my speaking engagements and book deadlines, what happens to the salaries of my employees?  A team that has busted their tail for me for years?  Yes, they are engaged and invested in the ministry, to see God’s purposes unfold– but they are also depending on those salaries to pay college tuition, pay the rent, feed their kids.   God has established this ministry – it certainly wasn’t my doing! – and has therefore called me to be an employer.  Just like I need to run the race well with my family, I need to run the race well with my ministry.  The two certainly aren’t ‘equal’ in priority, but since they are both callings, I know He’ll provide a way for us moms to navigate this challenge, this summer.

For those of you who do work during the summer (either outside the home or from home), how do you juggle this delightful but unusual time of year?

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  1. This summer my 13-year-old will be taking on a big responsibility. Three days a week she will watch her brother (7) and another six-year-old. The other two days a week my kids will go swimming and have a high school gal to watch them. My daughter is at an age where she is in between- needs some fun and some responsibility.

  2. Anne Marie says:

    Thank you for this article!! As a working mom, in school full time and with 3 children, it truly is a huge challenge!! I am so grateful for the calling God has on my life to work outside of the home, but I am also very in tune with the challenges it brings. It takes daily prayer and trusting in God’s perfect plan for not only me, but for my whole family. I am thankful for an amazing support system to help me navigate these days, but ultimately I have such a desire to make these days memorable for my kids. It may look like chaos from the outside, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  3. I’m glad you brought this issue out. It is so hard for me to have my kids home for the summer and I’m not there. I was a SAHM for 16 years, but God sent me to the workplace full time last May. It was such a difficult transition. I felt terrible. I have 7 kids ages 16-6 and couldn’t afford childcare. The older children are paid to watch the younger children during the summer. Thankfully that worked out well as I learned to trust God to watch over my kids.

    Does my heart ache when I leave them every morning? Yes. But I know I am doing what God has called me to do and there is such peace in that.

  4. Well said, Shaunti. This will be the first summer since having children that I will be working part-time. Thank you for the reminder that I CAN”T do it all, and don’t have to! But my kids can still have a great summer, though the older ones will have added responsibility. That’s not a bad thing, right?

  5. Margie Thompson says:

    I think we modern-day women often forget that all through human history women have been working and having to balance work/family issues. Prior to the industrial revolution which brought electricity and our modern conveniences, both men & women worked extremely hard just to survive…no work literally meant no food, no clothes nor shelter. For millenia, unless you were the rich elite, women had to figure out how to care for their kids while still getting their daily work done. Unfortunately a by-product of the industrial age sent the majority of men & women away from the home environment in order to provide food/clothes/shelter. The blessing of the technological age has been, for many women, the ability to return to the home environment to earn their paycheck and thus make them more available to care for their children while they work. Work is just part of the human condition and God is there to give us direction in all of this. However, just like Shaunti said, we need to seek His face to set priorities and realize that we can’t do it all at the same time. I’ve been raising children for almost 20 years and have been every “form” of mom (i.e. working mom, SAHM etc.). Each form has it’s unique challenges and blessings in which we need to seek the Lord daily for direction. Thank you Shaunti! I can’t wait to take a group of ladies through LifeReady Woman.

    1. I am in this boat too. I am a single mom with two daughters. I can barley afford to keep a home and struggle to do so. Therefore I do not have any extra funds to put them into some sort of care or summer camp. They are 13 and 14 and are getting into all sorts of trouble. I don’t know what to do. How can I watch them if I am trying to provide for them?