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My Turn: One parent’s guide to canceling the guilt trip

  •  Ahh, summer vacation. Long days spent making memories to last a lifetime . . .  or growing bored out of your mind. I have these delusions of creating the perfect summer for my kids. A summer spent with friends, exploring our hometown and our home stat

    Ahh, summer vacation. Long days spent making memories to last a lifetime . . . or growing bored out of your mind. I have these delusions of creating the perfect summer for my kids. A summer spent with friends, exploring our hometown and our home stat

  •  Ahh, summer vacation. Long days spent making memories to last a lifetime . . .  or growing bored out of your mind. I have these delusions of creating the perfect summer for my kids. A summer spent with friends, exploring our hometown and our home stat

Ahh, summer vacation. Long days spent making memories to last a lifetime . . . or growing bored out of your mind.

I have these delusions of creating the perfect summer for my kids. A summer spent with friends, exploring our hometown and our home state. We will embark on adventures that combine fun and hidden learning. There would be some work around the house thrown in for good measure and character building, and everything would be all rainbows and unicorn farts. Everyone would participate willingly and the phrase “I’m bored” would nary be heard.

As I said – delusions.

I work from home anywhere from 10 to 30 hours a week. During the school year, I usually manage to fit it all in while the kids are out of the house. When summer comes, the kids are ever-present. I feel guilty when I’m working because I feel like we should be together making memories. (Delusions, remember?) I feel guilty when I’m with them because I feel like I should be working. (How, exactly, are we paying for college again?)

Last week I had a conversation with a neighbor about summer plans. Our kids are close in age. The difference is she works in an office. Like mine, her kids are scheduled for a few camps, there will be some family vacation time, and a few weeks where the kids are just going to have to figure out how to entertain themselves.

I shared with her that when I was in my mid-teens (like our oldest children), I was baby-sitting a neighbor’s children close to 40 hours a week. I waxed poetic about how it’s good for kids to be bored; it forces them to self-soothe and self-entertain. As I walked away from the conversation, I laughed at myself. There, my friends, was a classic case of “Take my advice, I’m not using it.”

I’ve set up a routine where I’m up early and work from the morning into the early afternoon. This leaves late afternoon for errands, short explorations and the ever-present karate classes. My goal on non-camp, non-vacation weeks is to devote one day to something “fun.” So far, it’s working, but we’re only a few weeks in, and this summer is front-loaded with activities.

Why can’t I get over the guilt? The feeling that I should be doing more? If I were a better mom, I’d be able to juggle work and fun.

Because of snow days, summer vacation is a little more than nine weeks this year. That seems like both a long time and a crazy short time. We have a weeklong family vacation, the younger cherub has three weeks of camp, the older one has two weeks of camp. The grandparents have requested a week at the lake with the kids. So roughly half of the summer is accounted for.

They have books and friends, imaginations – oh, and chores. Can’t forget the chores!

I need to take my own advice and unpack my bags. Time to cancel the guilt trip!

(Lee Laughlin of Loudon is a freelance writer, social media marketer, wife and mother of two.)

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