Day care failure: two words that panic any working mother. We work to split ourselves from our maternal feelings, and we theorize that if we have a system of day care for our children, with numerous backup and contingency plans, it will allow us to be at our workplace’s beck and call, to meet every demand, and to run at any pace.
Traditionally a good day care system has three options: a friend, a coworker, or a relative. (In rare cases, someone that you barely know has been called upon) The more the better! We also work on the belief that if we find the right people and create the right depth to our system , it will immunize us against feelings of guilt or inadequacy when it comes to our kids. This belief is as readily available as office coffee.
Just when we feel that we have a smooth rhythm and some assembly of peace, summer comes and the kids are out of school. Now what ? All the hard work that you did to get day care in order is thrown out the window and you need another plan for three months.
Ask for help – The hardest thing to do is ask for help. The fact is having the kids go to school was part of your day care system. Now is the time to put your pride away and ask a family member or friend to help out. Maybe this is the time to have the in-laws visit for a week to get to know the kids better?
You have a partner in finding this solution – the kid’s father. It is time to engage him more than he may have been during the school year. This is not just your issue to solve – it is a family issue. Both of you are going to have to adjust for the summer months. Meet in the middle and find a schedule that works for everyone.
Plan a vacation – a “real” vacation. If you don’t plan it on your schedule it won’t happen. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Camping or visiting relatives and friends is just fine. This could be a time for you to disconnect from the office for a few days. Put someone else in charge at the office and it will be a good development opportunity for them.
Camps are ok – we somehow have talked ourselves into thinking that putting our kids in a camp is terrible. There are fabulous camp opportunities that the kids really enjoy. We are the ones that feel guilty and inadequate. The kids will enjoy the change and probably learn something at the same time! Ask others for a reference on the good camps.
Bring work home – If you can, try to leave work a little early and take advantage of the long summer days. You will need to make up for the time later at night or work on a few things from home. At least you are getting in an extra hour or two with the kids. Depending on their age, it is also a good time to introduce the concept of them staying home alone for an hour.
Adversity comes in all sizes and shapes and happens at both home and work. An old saying buy writer Charles Swindoll goes: “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.” Or in the words of Winston Churchill “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
We are in charge of our attitudes. We can’t dictate the summer school break but we can determine how we will react.
You really can’t have success in one area of your life without having success in the others. It is all about creating alternatives, options, and backup plans, and it’s about asking for help.
You can’t take the mother out of the career woman or the career out of the mother, so use both to your advantage.