Summer Sun – And Summer Burnout
July 8, 2020
BY: Madeline Marzano-Lesnevich
How to Work From Home With Kids
Tired, stressed, angry— burnt-out. The summer sun’s out, the school’s out, and parents are burnt-out. That was the takeaway in an interesting piece The New York Times published recently, and honestly, who couldn’t relate? With various states in various stages of reopening (and re-closing), many of us are still working from home or employing some kind of hybrid in-the-office/home-office schedule, and that’s without the benefits of childcare this summer, or full-time (or even part-time, for some) camps. What the heck are we supposed to do with our kids all summer, while we work?!
The Times article suggests dividing activities into three categories: “Non-negotiables; things you want to see happen; and things you would like to see happen.” So, let’s break these down, for you and the kiddos, and see how they can help you cope this summer.
- Non-negotiables: You need to do them, the kids need to do them. Think eating breakfast, making the bed, taking a bath or shower, etc. Even during this strange summer of ‘What day is it?’ and ‘I can wear my pajamas in the yard at 4:00 pm!’ there are certain things it behooves everyone— children and parents alike— to do. A useful way of dealing with the non-negotiables could be a set schedule, or with a family chart or chalkboard. And there’s nothing wrong with a reward (for everyone) after fulfilling a non-negotiable this summer, be it an ice pop or a water balloon fight.
But there’s something else to add to the non-negotiables list: fun! ‘Me time.’ Whether that’s running through the sprinkler with the kids, or treating them to a new VOD movie, or a late-night Zoom call with a best friend, we’ve got to remember that being good to ourselves in this difficult summer is non-negotiable.
- Things you want to see happen: Maybe it’s the kids making progress on their summer reading list. Maybe it’s a family project to finally clean the garage. Maybe it’s simply the kids being nicer to their siblings, and including them in their summer playtime. Because they’re burned out (and you’re burned out), there are going to be moments and items that fall into this category that doesn’t happen. And that’s okay. The number one rule of getting through this pandemic summer together is to not stress about what doesn’t happen.
And the same goes for adults. There will be things you want to do— finishing that summer beach read, say— that just doesn’t happen. And that’s okay.
- Things you would like to see happen: Here, go wild! Use your imagination. The kids creating a ‘zoo’ in the backyard by dressing up and acting like animals? Check. Piling into the car and treating everyone to the drive-in one night? Check. Creating your own family Olympics day? Check. (My daughter and son-in-law recently did this with their family, and everyone had a great day and got to both let off steam and energy, and get rewarded with medals.) This is certainly the weirdest summer children and parents have experienced together in modern times, so you might as well go with it. Christmas in July? Why not?! Drag up the decorations, and fill the stockings. Dessert for breakfast? We’re not telling.
And, of course, use your imagination for yourself, too. A late-night drink on your porch with your significant other? Turn on the Italian café music, mix up a Negroni, and Bella: you’re in Rome for an hour! Sweatpants, cereal for dinner, and that movie you loved in college? Hey, spend two hours reconnecting with your collegiate self.
This will continue to be a stressful summer for children, parents, marriages, and relationships, and we encourage you to breathe, slow down, and do what you can to survive it by focusing on these three categories. While no one seems to have a definitive answer on whether the school will be back in session at school or online in the fall, we know one thing: Labor Day will come.
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