It’s day “whatever” of shelter-in-place. We’ve settled into a new normal. We take a morning family walk to level set and signal the start of the day. By 10:30, we’re all on our respective calls for school and work. How and when we get things done has definitely shifted. Some days are harder than others but, we’ve managed to find some semblance of balance during a crisis.

And yet…summer is coming.

summer is coming

As I look to summer I realize we’ll yet again be working to find a new routine. The work for us will continue but the schoolwork won’t. The little bit of support we, as working parents, get in building structure to our days via weekly worksheets, classroom meetings, and art prompts will go away.

Then what…?

I kind of just panicked

Any parent with a school-aged child knows that summer brings massive schedule and routine changes. We plan, mentally and physically, for the seasonal transition months in advance—every year. But this is different. The change is not coming. Our summer camps have already sent out cancellation notices. We know, at least in Illinois, our world will need to remain within our four-walls for the bulk of the summer.

In short, we’ll be left to establish a new routine with even fewer resources.

a man slowly falls over from exhaustion

I know I speak for a lot of working parents when I say I am overwhelmed by and underprepared for the summer months to come. The fatigue of balancing work and my children’s wellbeing within the same square footage, 24 hours a day, is starting to set in.

I know we’ll eventually figure it out. We, as a collective species, are resilient and resourceful—you don’t have to look very far to see proof of that everywhere. But that doesn’t make it any less challenging.

Right now, I’m writing this as my daughter participates in her daily class meeting. It’s a solid hour where everyone gets to focus on their single task. It’s a critical hour for our weekday. I find myself blocking that time for work that can’t be interrupted: big presentations, head-down projects, meal planning for, what feels like, 1,000 meals this week.

I know, going into the summer, we’ll need to recreate that hour for the sake of my sanity. Just like how we cobble together summer camps week by week to provide child care coverage, I’m going to work to cobble together support for my daily focus hour during the summer via virtual sittings, playdates, and tutoring sessions.

I’m also going to try my best to be flexible and go easy on myself (which is easier said than done). I will lean into the mantras that have buoyed me during this crisis thus far and I will carve more time out to just “be” with my family. No agendas—just good ole fashioned fun.

life finds a way

What are you planning to do this summer? I’m really asking. Seeking all advice from fellow parents.

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