Home + Work: Summer fun — for everyone

Photo courtesy Pexels

I spent most of my formative summers bouncing between the wheat horizon of my mom’s hometown (Waterville, Washington), the forested hills of my dad’s hometown (Moscow, Idaho), the shores of Lake Chelan, and our home base in Olympia. 

Looking back, it was an idyllic existence full of books, bike rides, ice cream, field trips, cousins and tan lines. It felt slow, relaxed and easy. 

And during each one of those formative summers, my parents worked. 

We moved to Olympia when I was 4. My mom worked for the Superintendent of Public Instruction as the director of safe and drug-free schools. My dad worked for Washington State Parks as the boating law administrator. When I was my kids’ ages (they’re 5 and 7), I watched prevention videos after school, meaning I knew not only how to “Just Say No,” but also how to “leave the door open” (as the videos taught me), in case my hypothetical friends making hypothetical questionable decisions came back around to the good side. 

In the summer, instead of providing feedback on my mom’s after-school specials or eating from my dad’s office vending machine, I spent full days at my daycare until and unless we were on vacation over the mountains. 

I looooved my daycare. We spent full days at the pool (it was at a local athletic club), took field trips to the Skippers walk-in freezer and made lots of crafts. I had tons of friends and a wonderful balance between warm days and cool nights. 

So, this year, instead of should-ing myself into cobbling together very little child care for my kids like I made the mistake of doing last year (frankly, I didn’t want to pay for it), I signed them up for camps at their school—a place where they are loved and where they thrive—added an Edmonds Parks and Recreation camp for my daughter during a gap week, and planned a few weeks of vacations just like my parents did for me. 

Our summer started last week and my kids are already enjoying themselves in a way that reminded me of how I felt in my growing-up summers. I am witnessing their confidence grow, their comfort zones expand and their excitement for what’s to come. 

Not only do my husband and I get to work with little stress of child care coordination (although, to be fair, there is always child care coordination), but we are also able to take time for ourselves together and separately: to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary away from home, for him to go crabbing and golfing, and for me to attend a writing conference in Idaho.     

Child care costs and access are a whole other conversation, but I’m grateful we’ve been able to figure out a way for everyone in our family to have a great summer, one that includes lots of beach walks and spaciousness for creative projects. I launched an independent publishing house I’m excited to promote. I have a novel I’m working on and am working on a children’s book with my son. In parallel, I’m expanding my copywriting agency to support more writers and more Pacific Northwest lifestyle businesses. My millennial predilection toward performance and productivity is high. My awareness of how I want my life to feel is higher. 

So, the laundry will probably pile up. The kids’ beds will be unmade. The dinners will be quick, fresh, and easy. 

And, there will be sand between our toes. Our hair will probably smell like campfires more often than not. Memories of s’mores will float through our dreams. We will share the stories of this summer long after it’s over — the summer we worked early and we played late. 

For that—for what my parents set in motion 30 years ago, and for what my husband and I are creating now—I am grateful. 

— By Whitney Popa

Whitney and Emilie

Whitney Popa is a writer and communications consultant in Edmonds and Emilie Given is a virtual assistant agency owner in Lynnwood. They write this column together to share work-from-home ideas. They love where they live and are grateful the virtual world allows them to achieve more work/life harmony. They also co-host a weekly podcast where they share their entrepreneurship journeys while learning about those of others. You can learn more about Emilie here and more about Whitney here.

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