The Summer Break Blues: Diaries of a Weary Mom

My social media feeds are filled with parents celebrating the beginning of summer break. No more alarm-setting! No more car line! No more lunch-packing! They’re all so excited about the things they don’t have to do now that school is out.

But, like … am I missing something?

My kids are six and eight. I truly believe that this summer—like every summer so far—will be the easiest one we’ve had yet. Each year the kids get bigger, more independent. They can do more things for themselves, which makes my days much easier when they’re home. But am I the only person who feels like there is so much more I have to do when they’re home for the summer?

Sure, no more school-related responsibilities. That’s great! But at least during the school year I have to do those things and then am rewarded with seven hours of uninterrupted time to do the things I need to do.

I’m a work-from-home mom. I make my own schedule, but it’s still a pretty tight one. I have lots of responsibilities that I both need and want to do. I love my job; it fulfills me in all the spots where motherhood simply can’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. I enjoy being with them, and even at their young age, I’m beginning to realize just how finite our time with them here at home really is. That said, I just happen to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate my time to focus solely on my non-domestic responsibilities when my kids are at school.

Of course, I’m looking forward to many fun things we’re going to do as a family this summer: trips to the pool, vacations, outdoor adventures. It’s going to be great! I will spend the summer getting them enrolled in lots of different sports and creative activities to see what they like best and will be willing to commit to in the upcoming school year. I will spend time teaching them responsibilities they need to be learning at this age—things that will cultivate a sense of duty and also help me out around the house. So, win/win there.

But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t grieving the end of the school year a little. I guess it’s because it doesn’t just feel like the end of school—it feels like the end of my independence.

It makes me feel like a bad mom to say that. I’m sure there are moms who wouldn’t hesitate to call me a bad mom, in fact. I think it’s important, though, that we give ourselves permission to be honest about things like this. Motherhood is a constant contradiction—a state of holding two opposing beliefs or feelings true at the same time:

I love being around my kids, but I also love my alone time.

It’s fun having the kids home from school, but it also stresses me out.

I want to do cool things with my kids this summer, but I dread trying to do those things and also get my work done.

There is anticipation and dread, joy and grief.

And it’s all completely valid.

Don’t let anyone make you feel like something’s wrong with you for having mixed feelings about your kids being home for the summer—and especially don’t let that person be you. It’s normal to feel these feelings. You’re a good mom. And your kids are just happy to get a little more time with you than they usually do in the school year.

Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.

Check out her blog called Compassionate Feminism on Psychology Today to join a feminist conversation centered in openness, empathy, and equity.

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