The week before last, the older kid were on spring break. The week before that, Karis was on spring break. A few weeks before that, the older kids were off school for “ski week”. I feel like I am still playing catch-up. I’ve written about this before, but one of the challenges of choosing to work part-time while the kids are in school is that, inevitably, there are times when they AREN’T in school that throw a wrench into my plans. That was definitely the case over spring break. I had a lot of work to do, and very little time to do it. Working around my kids means everything takes twice as long, and it means that I get frazzled and frustrated a lot more than I’d like to admit. It’s funny, though, because as I look at the pictures of our week, it looks like we had a good time. And honestly? I think the kids really did. I think they had a blast. I think I was the miserable one. Because I hate multi-tasking. But what I hate more than multi-tasking is the way that multi-tasking makes me feel about myself. I feel guilty for being disconnected and preoccupied and annoyed with my kids. Inevitably, at the end of the day I feel crappy about my parenting AND about my work. Both suffer. But I think I suffer the most. I had a lot of anxiety during spring break because I knew it as a preview of what’s to come this summer, when the kids are out for school. With Karis in preschool and the older kids in school full-time, I took on an increased workload this school year. Unfortunately, that workload doesn’t magically disappear when the kids are not in school, and since school is my childcare option, it leaves me in a bind. I know the sane thing to do would be to figure out childcare for the summer, but unfortunately, we’re not in a spot to afford it this year. Self-employment is all fun and games until you get to pay your taxes, and Mark and I had a big learning curve this year on that one, as I took on more work a a freelancer. Between a slightly shocking tax bill and a home remodel with fun surprised like mold and asbestos, we are trying our best to creep out of some debt that is weighing heavily on us. Not to mention, the price of summer childcare is astronomical. The least expensive day camp I could find in our area is $150 a week. For four kids, that would run me $2400 a month HELLO! Not going to happen. Previously I’ve tried variations of in-hone care like a nanny or a mother’s helper, but I cannot express how teeny my house is and how loud my children are. I don’t have an office to escape to. I’ve got the living room and my bedroom, both of which open to the backyard . . . and a home with no air-conditioning, which means the windows are always open. So working with them here, even if someone else is watching them, just doesn’t work for me. I’m really curious to hear how other working mothers manage the summer months. I’m guessing I’m not the only mom who went back to work when the kids started school . . . and who uses school time as childcare. What do you do over the summer? For now, I’m trying to strategize some sort of loose schedule that will give the kids some structure and allow me to work a few hours each day. Also I’m trying to arrange for a pony to live in my backyard and a robot that will clean my house. All of the aforementioned goals seem equally realistic. Anyways, here is our spring break in photos. Deceptively fun in the retelling, of course. We watched a lot of YouTube clips. (I’ve figured out how to lock down YouTube to only pre-approved videos. Will share that in another post). We played a lot of chess. (The kids tried a 5-week academic chess class at the beginning of the year and got hooked. They’ve taken a Chess class every week since.) We had playdates with friends. We bought a new juicer. We spent a day at Disneyland. (Sophia the First and Doc McStuffins are in the Disney Junior Live show now. So cute!) We played “rock star concert”. Mark taught the boys to make fire with a magnifying glass. We got froyo. We got more froyo. We made smoothie popsicles. We crafted our sunglasses. We played Just Dance with cousins. We went to the beach with friends. We designed a redneck water slide. As I look at these pictures, it’s so interesting how my perspective shifts. I look at them and think, man. . . that looks like a full, fun week with happy kids. And I suppose it was . . . I guess I just get really bothered by the moments that I’m shooing kids into the backyard while I finish an article, and have a hard time seeing the big picture. I suspect summer will be the same way – some moments of work, some days of fun, and a bunch of angst about the whole thing. If you are a working mom, I would love to hear how you manage the summer. Do you hire a nanny or get out-of-home care? Do you work around the kids? And if you do, I’m curious if you feel like you manage it will, or if it leaves you feeling less than stellar.