Abel, host of the next edition of Scientiae, has asked us how we balance our summer “musts” and “needs” (work and play). I think I’ve come up with a personally satisfactory answer to that question: lazy summer mornings.
During the academic year, mornings are a blur of getting everyone breakfast, dressed, and out the door. Sometimes Minnow would rather stay at home and play, but those 9 am classes and meetings won’t wait for a toddler.
In the summer that time pressure is off. Rather than leaping out of bed with alarm clock, we let the dogs whining and our body’s inclinations do the trick. We lounge in bed and tell or read stories for a while before getting up. After breakfast, we read stories, play with toys, or walk the dog. Sometimes Minnow wants me actively involved with her, other times I do house work while she contentedly plays alone. Then sometime between 9:30 and 10:45 we finish getting ready for school (i.e., get out of our jammies), say goodbye to the Princess Pup, and get Minnow to daycare before her lunch/nap routine is messed up.
Finally, I head to my office and wonder where half my day has gone. I try to work steadily until 5, before breaking to pick up Minnow, get dinner ready, and play outside in the lingering daylight.
For those doing the math, yes, that means I’ve been working some spectacularly short days – usually between 6 and 7 hours. But I can put in those hours without feeling guilty for dragging my toddler to daycare – knowing that most of the time she’s there she’ll be eating, sleeping, or running around the playground with her friends. In the early mornings (5-7 am) and the late evenings I sometimes steal a few hours for myself – but most of the time those hours go to housework or internet procrastination rather than real work. So I’d estimate my average summer work week at slightly less than 40 hours.
Maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot by reducing my summer workload from what it could be if I continued my school year breakneck pace. But I feel like my summer has been productive, its given me the time to recharge my energy and stock up my bank of fun times with Minnow. Most of all though, it gives Minnow time to just be her own person, with her own stuff, with her unstressed Mommy’s attention, for a few extra hours per day. And if giving Minnow that time extracts a cost on my career, then its a price I am totally willing to pay.