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Fun Fridays: How to Battle 18 Summers

A few years ago I looked at my school-aged boy and my preschool girl and realized how short the summers were. I was doing work I loved and they were with a sitter who loved them, but I hated not being able to take advantage of the summer. So I made a decision to take Friday afternoons off. We called it Fun Friday and I planned things like swimming, the splash pad, the library, movies, hiking trails, and local museums.

At first I was scared to tell my clients I couldn’t take their work calls on Friday afternoons. I had to reschedule appointments to be finished by noon or one at the latest. I was so afraid my clients would think I didn’t take my work seriously. My business was growing and I just couldn’t afford for them to see me as only half-working.

The first time I mentioned taking off Friday afternoons to a client, he responded, “Good for you!” In fact, I can’t remember a single other business person who didn’t say that same thing. Over the last six years I’ve realized every entrepreneur and business owner realizes the struggle of a work-life balance is real. When one of us makes some effort to balance the scale, it feels like a win for everyone.

Oh, and did I tell you Fun Fridays are tech free zones? Yep, that means no checking Facebook for mom and very limited texting. No electronic devices are allowed for anyone once we leave the house until after 5 p.m. It sounds like a very short amount of time, but it’s been key to making the most of the time together. I will occasionally use the camera or GPS on my phone.

Where we go has changed as the kids have gotten older. The splash pad we used to frequent no longer holds the interest of my oldest. This year we rode bikes on a local bike trail instead. As my kids have learned to read, the library has become one of their favorite stops. We pick up some new books, grab some ice cream on the way home and read most of the afternoon. It’s a great option for either rainy days or really hot afternoons. Swimming used to require the assistance of my mother-in-law but since both kids can touch the bottom of the shallow end, it’s more swimming and less saving from drowning.

The weeks we have a holiday like July 4th, we don’t do Fun Friday but make sure the holiday includes something extra fun. If we’ve been gone part of the week on vacation or to church camp that time counts as our Fun Friday. We’ve also moved the date to another day of the week so we could take cousins with us. This year we’ve invited a few friends to join us through the summer.

Every summer someone posts about only having 18 summers with our kids. I’m down to less than half of that with one of mine. I refuse to feel guilty because I don’t spend every waking moment with my kids. For years I was their first friend, but that’s no longer in my job description. I refuse to be the cruise director and schedule every moment of my kids summer. But I’m going to make the moments we do spend together count.

I once heard that kids don’t remember one-time events from their childhood as much as they remember the over-arching feel of their childhood and the common things you did over and over again. I hope they remember that we traveled together every summer, they had to do some chores, and mom took off for Fun Fridays. I’m already trying to figure out how I’m going to make Fun Fridays work when they are in college.

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