Queer Mom Chronicles: School’s Out for Summer

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Happy summer!

After literal months of gray skies and lackluster weather, the sun is finally out! I’ve broken out my trusty flip flops, painted my toenails, and even shaved my legs. It can only mean one thing: Summer vacation is here and in full-swing! This is my favorite time of the year — life slows down a little bit because we’re not beholden to the hullabaloo of the school year, and the weather is nice enough to want to be outside. But as much as I love it, summer vacation is not quite as relaxing when you’re a working mom.

I’m extremely lucky to work from home, and as a freelancer, I can *kind of* make my own hours. Because of my flexibility, I don’t stress too much about making sure my son attends summer camp (also, camp prices are ridiculous!). He has a packed schedule during the school year, and he needs a break. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’re having easy breezy summer days laying by the pool and eating popsicles. It just means I’m dealing with a different kind of stress honestly. This is the first summer since the pandemic where I’m the one who isn’t working a bunch and can have some time with my kiddo around my work schedule. This is also the first time since we got together that my partner is working a job outside of the house, which presents a new challenge!

For the last two summers, I’ve had jobs where, even though I was working from home, I was expected to be at my computer during typical working hours. That meant I didn’t really have the luxury of lazy summer days or getting to spend time with my son. My partner became the one to take him to the playground or swimming class or summer music. She was great about it, making sure that he was entertained, but also listening to him when he said he just needed a day at home playing with his trains or LEGOS. We got to do stuff as a family on the weekends, and I cherished those days. I do have to admit I was very excited to have more time to spend with him this summer. He’s getting older, and he’s not going to want to hang out with me much longer, so I’m trying to enjoy it! But as excited as I am, I do still have to work, and it reminds me how hard it is to work at home and keep a kid entertained all summer!

Right now, I have a couple of freelance gigs that require a few hours of my day Monday through Friday. I’m lucky to have gotten to a place where I don’t have to work weekends anymore. My work day usually starts between 9 and 10 in the morning, and I’m usually done by mid-afternoon. I have had to impose some sort of structure into his days, or else he would become a slug. Since he still gets up around 7 a.m., he’s not allowed to use his tablet or Switch before 8 a.m., which means he will watch some TV or come in bed and cuddle with me. He is required to spend three hours not on his tablet, but he can still play his Switch or watch TV, and must do a half hour of reading. His guinea pigs are on a strict feeding schedule, and because his room is a disaster zone, he’s going to spend the next few weeks cleaning it. I don’t require him to get dressed every day, but he does have to brush his teeth and take nightly baths.

Thankfully, there is still some flexibility to my days, so we can go to the playground or a movie or to get ice cream. I know he gets lonely as an only child, so I will try to make some playdates for him to see his friends from school. He is still a little kid though, and most days just wants to sit around and complain that he’s bored. I’m not the mom who jam packs our schedule with activities to keep him occupied; he has a million toys and other things, so he can absolutely find ways to entertain himself.

That’s the hardest part of being a mom who works from home on summer break. Since it’s just my son, he doesn’t have someone to play (or fight) with all day while I’m working. I hear a lot of “Mom, I’m bored,” but I can’t always drop what I’m doing to take him to do something. And he loves rejecting my suggestions of things to do. There are times when he’s perfectly content sitting next to me on the couch while I write and he plays Roblox or watches YouTube. I’ll let him take over the living room to build his elaborate train tracks or watch Power Rangers on Netflix and do his “moves.” But then there’s the times where he is constantly in my face wanting hugs or complaining I forgot to buy more blueberries, and I have to exasperatedly remind him I’m working and that if he leaves me alone I’ll be done faster. The only good thing is that he’s old enough to fetch his own snacks, so I’m not being interrupted seventy thousand times a day to open something or pour a cup of juice.

I will always feel like I’m being pulled in two directions. I would love nothing more than to not have to work and spend our days laying around in pjs and just going out when the mood strikes. I wish I had the luxury of time to spend hours at the pool reading a book while he splashes around. He’s used to me working, because this is how his life has always been, and he truly doesn’t complain about it. And when my partner is off, she will shuttle him to the playground or sit at the pool so I can get some uninterrupted writing in or run errands without him. We have a friend who offered to do swimming lessons with him, and we’re making plans for him to do some cello lessons with his teacher. There will definitely be beach days and maybe even a weekend getaway!

I am extremely grateful that this summer we do have more opportunities to spend time together. I’m going to take him to see a musical, and we’re both excited about going to the movies to see Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken. There’s an immersive Disney experience coming, which should be fun, and I’m even looking forward to reading a book at the playground.

How do you all handle summer vacation? Anyone doing anything fun? Tell me about it in the comments!


Queer Mom Chronicles is a monthly column where I examine all of the many facets of queer parenthood through my tired mom eyes. 

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Sa'iyda Shabazz

Sa'iyda is a writer and mom who lives in LA with her partner, son and 3 adorable, albeit very extra animals. She has yet to meet a chocolate chip cookie she doesn't like, spends her free time (lol) reading as many queer romances as she can, and has spent the better part of her life obsessed with late 90s pop culture.

Sa'iyda has written 125 articles for us.

11 Comments

  1. Not a parent but just wanted to say I love this column. Have a great summer!

    My mum also juggled work and childcare over the holidays and I still remember the little things she did to keep us entertained and I think your son will too. I actually have precious memories from the (dreaded) last day before going back to school as she would always make sure she was free and take us for hot chocolate with all the toppings.

  2. Reading that back ‘little things’ sounds dismissive. In my head I was comparing activities that are more low key/day-to-day in comparison to travel or camp for example, but phrased it clumsily. Obviously the effort is in no way small!

  3. I’m struggling with this this summer. My kid is 6, and we are sending them to a day camp most of the summer. In theory I have the summer off, but this year I’m trying to write my dissertation. My kid is a super-social only child, so they enjoy camp a lot. But I am much better about proctastinating than writing, camp is a lot less time than school is, and it seems like there’s always something else happening that demands time, and my schedule is always more flexible than my spouse who is working a traditional, full-time job.

    On the positive side, the pool near us is actually open this summer and it’s been fun helping my kid learn to swim, even as they get more formal lessons at camp.

  4. We’re two working parents with a toddler and sometimes summer feels harder than the school year because the schedule is constantly changing! This summer we are relying on a mix of summer camp, grandparent help, and work remote “vacations” with friends who will help us toddler wrangle. Takes a village!

  5. As a British person I’d always assumed that holiday camps were the kind of thing they have in books but no one really does in real life, like boarding school – obviously not no-one, but a tiny number.
    But now my niece and nephew live in the US and American school holidays are crazy! You have barely any time off all year then 3 months off all at once! Not sensible. Not at all.
    So now that I understand that it’s not possible to go to the grandparents, have a week at the seaside and fill up the rest at the park or in local friends back gardens, holiday camps sound less like a weird set up for an adventure story and more like a really pragmatic solution.

    • I love the three months off, but I think education wise, it would be better to have activities spread out throughout. Instead it seems like children have schedules more packed than adults, then nothing for three months.

  6. If you have trusted relatives/friends who will appropriately engage with your child, perhaps your son will appreciate a trip away with someone they know.

    For example, I spent summers with my grandmother and got to see relatives who lived near her. I loved being away, going to the beach, day camp, sleepovers, eating different food while there.

    Some children like doing projects. For example, you could ask him to pick a book that he will enjoy reading. Ask him to read it maybe after a day to a week, ask him if had a favorite scene and would he like to act it out. If your son is interested, maybe ask one or two parents if the following is something their children would enjoy. Presenting a play/musical based on the book.

    Another project could be creating a puzzle or boardgame based on the book.

    If you have space for a garden, maybe he would enjoy a space to grow food. I enjoyed gardening and it only takes a little guidance.

  7. I’m grateful that my younger ones have full day daycare during the summer. My teenagers are home during the day. I work several part time jobs that thankfully are pretty flexible so I can be somewhat available if needed. I like that my teens have to find ways to entertain themselves. They walk to the library sometimes, and definitely spend too much time on electronics.

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