Do You Change Your Work Schedule for Summer?

Now that the school year is almost over (um, how?), it’s a good time to ask the readers this question: Do you typically change your work schedule for summer — or your childcare schedule for summer? If your kid goes to a typical childcare center, you may not have to deal with any summer schedule changes, but for moms with school-aged kids (or, for example, if you have a college-age nanny who goes home for summer), it’s a different story. For many working moms, unless you have a kid who’s willing to do the same thing every week, you usually end up cobbling together various day camps to cover July and August (if you’re the default parent, that is … which, as a mom, you probably are).

Summer camp registration is so stressful: It often feels like putting together a puzzle with a bunch of missing pieces — and for the most popular programs, you have to make sure you sign up your kid early enough before they fill up (which means March in many cases, or even earlier — and that’s assuming you KNOW which are the popular ones). If you’re lucky, you’ll manage to find a camp for the week(s) in June after school ends and the final week or two of August when many camps have closed up shop. (Good times for a family vacation, perhaps?) To complicate things further, day camp schedules aren’t always working-mom friendly, especially for younger kids. Here are a few schedules from camps in my area:

  • Zoo camp: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with before care and after care, $50/week extra)
  • Science camp: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (7:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with before care and after care, $45/week extra)
  • Music camp: 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (8:00 to 5:30 with before care and after care, $75/week extra)

Fortunately, about 18% of employers offer some kind of summer hours (half-day Fridays, etc.). Does yours? If you change your work schedule for summer, do you use any of the following options?

  • Use flextime options. Examples: taking a shorter lunch hour in exchange for leaving earlier than usual, working from home at night and spending less time in the office, working longer days from Monday through Thursday and having a shorter Friday schedule (or every other Friday off, etc.).
  • Enjoy Summer Fridays: Some companies in cities like NYC (especially publishing/media companies, which supposedly started the practice in the ’60s) and D.C. (about a quarter of employers) let employees end their week early. Some surveys (and anecdotal info) say the policy is getting less popular, while others say it’s becoming more common, so go figure.
  • Save up a lot of vacation time for the summer. 
  • Ask family members to fill in the childcare gaps. 
  • Hire a summer nanny or babysitter to fill in the gaps (or to work the whole summer).

How do you change your work schedule for summer, if at all? Does your employer offer Summer Fridays or a similar perk during the summer months (or maybe flex-time year round)? Do you find it hard to find summer camps that fit with your work schedule? 

Picture credit: should you change your work schedule in the summer for school break? how does your childcare change when school's out for the summer?

We asked our working mom readers: how do you change your work schedule in the summer -- or your childcare schedule? If you have use college kids for childcare help, how does that affect things? If your office offers summer Fridays (or on the flip side requires lots of networking in the summer), how does that work? Some interesting answers.


  1. I don’t change my work schedule in the summer, although I try to take more vacation than usual.

    For now, with a first-grader, we’re making it work by having him enrolled in the summer program at our younger kid’s daycare. It means he doesn’t get to be with his school friends, but he gets to go on lots of field trips and do a few enrichment activities. Selfishly, I like this arrangement because it means ONE dropoff, which makes it easier on us as parents.

    He gets to choose one week of camp. This year, it’s zoo camp. The camps around here are far more expensive than full-time daycare (sad but true) and the hours are usually 9 to 4, which really screws up our schedule. We can make it work for a week, but the idea of doing that all summer makes me want to cry.

  2. All our summer camp sign ups are completed in January/February. Some of them sell out very quickly. I try to let a combination of schedule any my children’s interests drive our camp selections, so I do end up with some weird weeks scheduling-wise. Some of them have later drop off, and my daughter does some camps that are only half day, so I either work from home for a half day or I bring her to the office. She’s sat in on meetings with my partners and been in the corner of my office with an iPad while I did phone calls. I’m cognizant though that not everyone has that luxury, so I try to do more working from home for the half day. My husband handles most of the pick ups, but the half day camps are in our downtown instead of the suburb where we live, so I’m on the hook there.

  3. I am so grateful that my husband is a teacher! Our son is 4, and his preschool is open 8-6, M-F, through the end of July, so we haven’t done any camps yet. It’s a coop, and we can buy and sell days from other families, so we have put some of our July days up for sale to save some money. He can also go back there next summer as a rising 1st grader, and I expect we will try to buy some days next July to give my husband a break. In August, we’ll be going on vacation for a week, he might stay with my parents at the beach for another week (I’m plotting but haven’t discussed this with them yet), and then will be with my husband the rest of the time. But I will be scrambling for those few days at the end of August/beginning of Sept when teachers have to go in to work before kids get there. My office has half days on summer Fridays too, which is AWESOME. I just need a beach house to go with them (ha – see teacher husband, not going to happen).

  4. anne-on says:

    This is 90% of the reason we have an au pair – summer care, snow days, and random school holidays. We still have to do a morning camp in order to ensure we’re not over the 45 hour limit, but it is by far the easiest (on us) option while allowing my small child the flexibility to have more or less the kind of open summer I had (and loved) as a kid. Want to go to the beach today? sure! museum sounds more fun? ok! Au pair also gives us the option to have kiddo rest/decompress in the afternoon, on the times when we’ve tried to do a full day ‘camp’ (daycare) my son was ZONKED at night, and crabby as a result.

  5. Artemis says:

    I got so lucky. Right when my oldest was about to need summer camp for the first time (too old for daycare), the newer YMCA near us started up their summer camp which goes all summer, M-F, as early as 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., no extra charge for the “before” and “after” care. It’s like going back to paying daycare fees for the summer, and I do have family members cover for 2-3 weeks to give the kids a break from the structure (and me a break from the cost), but it’s worked really well and I am so grateful for it. So, check out a YMCA near you, I am under the impression that most if not all of them (at least around me, mid-Atlantic state) have summer camps and are working-parent-schedule friendly. Ours is definitely cheaper per week than all the specialty camps around, although next year I may let my oldest choose 1 week of a different specialty camp just for something different and special.

    • avocado says:

      I love Y camp because it is comparatively inexpensive, includes swim lessons, and offers extended hours. Our YMCA system has camps at the local branches plus a real outdoor camp with buses that pick the kids up and drop them off at the local branches so parents don’t have to trek out to the camp. My kid loved the outdoor camp when she was little but quickly outgrew it. We tried two different local branch camps before finding one she liked with lots of different specialty camps to choose from (her favorite was Hogwarts) and a little outdoor camp facility built in the woods behind the Y. Our local JCC also has a highly rated day camp program with extended hours, so that’s another place to try.

  6. EB0220 says:

    My kiddo is just about to start kindergarten, but she’ll go year-round. That means she’s off for about one month during the summer, and one month at various other times throughout the year. I just finally cobbled together the few weeks before she starts school in August, which will be: 2 weeks before school start = last week of daycare; 1 week before school start = summer camp @ mommy’s work; week of school start, kindergartners only go one day so my parents are coming to watch her the days she’s not at school. Then she’ll finally start full time. Whew! No idea how I am going to do this every few months.

  7. avocado says:

    My 10-year-old has daytime sports practices during the summer, so the last few summers have been a transportation nightmare. Last summer I spent four days a week dropping her off at practice first thing in the morning, working from home, picking her up at lunch, driving her across town to day camp, and then driving in to the office for the afternoon. I was spending up to four hours a day in the car and burning huge amounts of PTO. By the end of the summer I was about to lose my mind.

    Fortunately, this year we found an after-school program that provides transportation to sports practices and is open full days during the summer. The program doesn’t look that exciting to me, but my kid is bored of all the other day camps and wants to spend the entire summer at this place because she hasn’t done it before and they have snow cones once a week. She will do a week of sleepaway camp and probably a week of an afternoon STEM camp, but otherwise she will be at the after-school program and I will be off the hook for mid-day transportation all summer.

    • hoola hoopa says:

      We do YMCA for most of the summer. It’s geographically convenient, fun, relatively inexpensive, and open 6a-6p. It’s also helpful for parents and kids to have a home base.

      Then we let them pick one ‘special’ per month (so two per summer). I sign up for them over spring break. To manage the shorter days and longer commutes:
      – Flex time
      – PTO, taking care of home projects during camp time
      – Carpool! Sign up with another family and split the pick up/drop offs. With four parents available, you only have to be responsible for 2-3 off-schedule mornings or evenings.

  8. Amelia Bedelia says:

    My kids are still young enough to be home with the part-time nanny / husband. However, I have recently started to *try to* take Fridays off. I want the extra time with them in the summer when there is so much to do around the city and outside! I know – I’m privileged to be able to dictate this.

    • You may have a degree of privilege, but you are also making a choice for your family (and apparently selected a job/worked hard enough to gain trust at said job to be able to do so). Yes, there are millions of women who literally have no choice in the matter, but I venture to guess they are not reading this board. Take credit for your parenting win! I think it’s great to make summer a little more special and spend time with your family.

  9. Just getting to this now, but my workplace does offer half-day Fridays. We do have to work 9 hours the other days, but it’s not like that’s so different than normal (lol). I just make an effort to get in earlier (well before 8) which I find easy to do in the summer because it’s like out so early.

    I’m going to attempt to do it next year when kiddo will be almost a year old (AHH), because the general plan is for DH to do dropoffs and me to do pickups, so I’d still be able to get into work early. Then on Friday I’ll have kiddo to myself all afternoon!

  10. V.violet says:

    Work shifts to 9-80s in the summer with every other Friday off. Both kiddos are under three and full time daycare so we don’t have to come tend with the camp madness yet. (Though I appreciate everyone’s camp related comments as we’ll be there soon enough.). I’m being selfish with my Fridays off – kiddos still going to daycare while I do whatever is best for me. For the first off Friday that meant: cleaning the house top to bottom (only 2 hours without kids around!) and a new workout class and a nap.

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