While the weather here in western Washington makes us feel like summer is a long way off, for anyone with kiddos, summer is just a few weeks away. While I’m one of the lucky ones with our kids in 4 days a week in-person school, that 1 day of virtual learning still throws us for a loop EVERY Friday. There’s whining, yelling, negotiating, and sometimes the kids learn something too. I’m looking forward to the laptops and tablets finding a home in the closet, the word homework disappearing from our vocabulary, and tossing the weight of wondering if everyone is struggling with common core math, or is it just me?
But this summer won’t be like last year. Many of us working in office environments are being allowed or encouraged to return to the cubicles. For the working parents of little humans, this means we need real childcare this year since we won’t be able to referee the water balloon toss in between zoom calls. As stressful as last year was, I remember the unexpected joy of a quick lunch together, logging off at the end of the day to see what they built out of amazon boxes, or taking that last conference call outside with their shouts of joy as they ran through the sprinkler.
What I learned from last summer is that giving my children my full attention is special. It creates memories and moments that they keep talking about. They don’t talk about how great it is that mom is downstairs and checks in as she races to the kitchen for a water refill before the next meeting. They DO remember the lunch where I left the laptop and phone in the office and simply asked them about the best part of their morning. What I know is that presence is a gift that keeps giving. And hopefully, a gift they can reciprocate as we move into the teenage years in the not to distant future. If I want them to practice good boundaries around technology, friends, and school work as they get older, I have to demonstrate that now!
They are watching and learning how to integrate all the parts of their lives. And while there’s a time for working on projects, enjoying social media, answering texts, and shopping – there’s also a time for putting that all away – whether you’re an adult or teen. The overwhelm we experience in waves (or constantly) is an opportunity to practice the lifestyle we wish for our children. For me, this is where working hard and producing good results has an clear end, and taking care of my body is a priority, and connecting with our family isn’t an afterthought.
As the forecast looks sunnier, and the end of school energy fills our home, I know my focus on doing great work while managing my schedule, my inbox, and all the other work demands will be worth the effort. While the math and spelling learning may be over for the year, the learning of how to be a whole human continues all summer long.