Summertime, panic time

We’re officially into summer by both of my measures: the calendar and the girls’ high school schedule. Their last courses met today and while they both have exams early next week, that’s hardly anything. What stretches ahead of me, except for two weeks’ vacation I have clearly booked off, is two months of not enough time to get everything I need done before term starts up again in September. And I’m not even talking about the staggering list of things to do at home and with family (at least for the latter part, I’m talking mostly recreational pursuits including a long-awaited family vacation far, far away from here). No, it’s the professional deadlines that had me atwitter.

Tick-tock, tick-tock. Can you hear it? That’s the sound of deadlines looming!

When the girls were younger, the end of their school year was a painful moment, professionally speaking: even with a few weeks of summer camp and family visits, here or there, it’s a lot of time when they’re at loose ends and I’m still trying to work. Autistic youngest manages much better these days with a routine that includes regular trips to the local park and board games played with her family members.

Now that they’re both teens, summertime parenting is not nearly so stressful as it used to feel. I’m less an entertainment machine and chauffeur, particularly since Eldest got her driver’s license, and more the keeper of collective memories and deadlines. Thank goodness for my Google calendar with handy reminders that pop up not only on my netbook but also on my smart phone and the large-format Mom’s Family Calendar that hangs in the kitchen and provides us with a column for each family member’s schedule and even one for the pets.

Still, that doesn’t mean that I don’t acutely feel time slipping away. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I’m accomplishing loads, but there’s so much more that I’d like to do: get this article drafted more quickly, get my next chapter written, edit another chapter for that next collection, refine my next research plan, get my teaching all organized for the fall, start in on my keynote for the October conference, etc., etc., etc. Yikes!

But when the panic started to set in as it did yesterday, I stopped, breathed and refocused. What good is there in panic? How is that going to help me get things done?

I’ve been fortunate this summer to work with a fabulous career coach, Jo VanEvery who’s helped me to clarify my goals, my game plan and my ways of working so that I accomplish what’s important to me and avoid getting bogged down in details, guilt or fears. Thanks to her advice, I realize that my reaction to summertime isn’t helping me, professionally or personally. I need to turn off that nasty clock, pounding in the background of my mind, and reiterate what’s important to me, personally and professionally.

So I’m off to the park with Youngest – I’ll read a book for pleasure while she sees how high she can get the swing to go this time. There’s work to be done, but it won’t be any better for taking up all my waking hours (nor will I be better off for that). I’ll come back to it tomorrow.

Good luck to the rest of you facing down your summer and try not to let the panic take hold!

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7 Comments

Filed under academe, personal

7 responses to “Summertime, panic time

  1. This sounds like an eminently sensible and healthy approach to summer. Here’s wishing you and your family a wonderful, productive AND relaxing summer!

    • J Liedl

      Thanks! I’m striving to be sensible when life intervenes and to remember that I can be happy with what I get done when I sincerely work as much as I can around all the rest.

      Here’s hoping you and D (and company!) have a restful, relaxing and occasionally riotous summer, too!

  2. I hear you! Sometimes in summer I long for the regimen of term-time, not that that stops me, during term, for wishing for the breaks, when I believe that (somehow) I will manage ALL the household things as well as ALL the research tasks. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were true that we have summers “off”?

    • J Liedl

      You’re so right: it would be nice to have this as free time. It’s just unstructured time wherein we’re supposed to be ferociously productive as well as available for all sorts of consultations, inquiries and paperwork. . . .

    • I often wish I had one (smallish) class a semester year round, including summer. Sadly, that’s not in the cards!

      • J Liedl

        I’ve enjoyed teaching summer session here. Two three-hour sessions a week is wonderful for building student camaraderie and keeping material fresh in everyone’s minds as well as giving structure to the weeks. But those are always evening classes and I’d really rather teach daytime (only I can’t in summer since so many are working during the daytime).

      • The only way for me to get a summer class would be on top of my regular load… and that’s already certainly not a 1/1! So I need the summer to make up for teaching during the year. I’d rather have it a bit more spread out.