I’m a mom and I’m taking summer off

PHOTO: Jillian Benfield is talking a break from stress this summer. PlayJillian Benfield
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It’s the beginning of June, but as soon as I turned the calendar from December to January my thoughts turned to summer — What am I going to do?

I’m a part-time, work-from-home mom. My day starts with waking up before my kids to get work in, handling all of the morning duties, squeezing in another hour or two of work during preschool, pick-up, lunches, therapy appointments, and finally naps where I can typically clock another hour or more before starting dinner.

It’s busy and it mostly works for me. But this summer, I’m taking off.

PHOTO: Jillian Benfield is talking a break from stress this summer. Jillian Benfield
Jillian Benfield is talking a break from stress this summer.

For months, I dreaded the calendar changing from May to June. How am I going to get it all done? And then I realized the answer: I can’t.

For months, I dreaded the calendar changing from May to June. How am I going to get it all done? And, I realized the answer: I can’t.

I can’t work at the same speed without school in session - so, I’m not going to. I’m not taking a class this quarter; I’m taking fewer assignments from my PR job and this blog…well; I’ll write when I have something worth saying.

It’s not just about working fewer hours — it’s really a mental shift. Although working part-time from home brings me a lot of self-fulfillment, I can get caught up in just wanting to get the kids out the door and work often takes precedence.

PHOTO: Jillian Benfield is talking a break from stress this summer. Jillian Benfield
Jillian Benfield is talking a break from stress this summer.

So, this summer is going to be all about the kids. This is because, when someone asks me about my childhood, it’s a flood of memories that all point back to summer.

It’s swimming all day and then watching a movie in wet bathing suits. It’s riding bikes to friend’s houses and treats from the ice cream truck. It’s games of capture the flag and running through the sprinklers. It’s the smell of the grill, games of Marco Polo and trips to water parks. It’s staying up too late and embracing a less scheduled way of life.

It’s a surge of all things sweet, sweaty and laid back. And I want to be here for it. I want to make these memories happen for my kids before they start making them on their own. I want them to remember these days of resounding innocence before summer fun becomes boys, girls, parties and curfews.

I realize this is a privileged position. Not everyone gets this option, I know. Nor is it something everyone would choose. We’re all different, and I think what makes us our best selves is what ultimately makes us the best parents. For me, I know I won’t be my best self while keeping my normal pace.

So, while I can, I’m leaning in. Two-and-a-half months at a much slower speed may set me back on my goals, but in the grand scheme of my life, investing less in my work and more in our memories...well, I’m pretty sure it’s a venture I won’t regret.

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