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Jennifer Newman: How working parents can plan for their kids' summer vacation

Workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman says summer vacation can be stressful for parents and caregivers who have to work and want to keep their kids occupied and happy.

Workplace psychologist says summer vacation can be stressful for parents and caregivers who have to work

Workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman says it's important that working parents also make sure they get time off for family getaways. (Shutterstock)

Summer vacation is just days away for most students. 

But while they may be excited, their parents or guardians may be concerned about finding ways to keep their kids occupied while they have to work, says workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman

Newman sat down with host Stephen Quinn on The Early Edition to talk about how parents and guardians can survive the summer stretch.

Stephen Quinn: The kids love the summer break, but what are the challenges for parents who work outside the home?

Jennifer Newman:  There's usually a lot of scrambling to find childcare or to get into summer camps. Finding quality camps can be hard, and many spots may already be filled. And, this can be financially taxing as well. Parents often shift their schedules around to ensure time with their children, which is great, but if it means cutting back hours, there can be a financial strain. It can create a lot of stress.

Besides financial problems and scrambling for activities, what else do parents experience?

Some feel guilty. They feel like they're not with their children and feel that they 'should' be. It's a big one, but it's based on fear. If all efforts have been made to ensure children's safety and comfort, then that fear is unfounded.

Workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman. (Jennifer Newman )

But, that's not what it feels like. The guilt is often associated with the parent feeling they are not doing right by their children somehow. And, this can be especially acute in summer. There could be worries about what teens are up to, whether a child is enjoying their activities and worry about grandparents for example being able to cope with the grandkids all day.

What advice do you have for parents who are trying to survive summer break?

Plan things for the summer with your kids, and watch out for that feeling of 'should'. Once you've made summer arrangements that satisfy you remind yourself you are doing a great job with your kids. If you are worried about your teens, talk to them about the summer. Do some up-front planning with them.

For example, summer jobs are important for older teens. They are an education in themselves.

Also, plan some family getaways. Even if you only get a few days off, plan something special. Talk to your employer about concerns you may have, and discuss different scheduling options to make it work. That could include different start times or different finish times, exchanging shifts, or helping other co-workers balance their lives as well.

This interview has been edited and condensed

With files from CBC's The Early Edition

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: Workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman explains how working parents can plan for their kids' summer vacation


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