I'm always fascinated by the rhythms of life in higher education. I don't have my summers off, like my colleagues who are on nine-month contracts, but things do change in the summer. The schedule is empty, the office is empty, and everything slows way down.
When you have kids, the slight mismatch between their academic year and yours creates interesting eddies in the flow. I've been done with classes since the first week of May, and with major office work since mid-May. But Archer and Cady Gray's last day of school wasn't until today. That means there were three weeks where I was on summer time, as it were, but with the added luxury of having the kids occupied during the day.
That's the interval where one probably ought to really focus on getting important stuff done. But it's also the moment when you most need a breather after a full year of work and (for me, this year) a very hectic and unusually intense spring semester.
I have made good use of these weeks -- better than usual, anyway. Plenty of writing, progress on research. And as administrative tasks have come up, I've been able to respond quickly. There are several long-term tasks for the summer still ahead of me -- some big (sketching out my major conference presentations for the fall), some smaller (overhauling the syllabus for my handcrafting class to reflect lessons learned from the first iteration), and some ongoing and collaborative (producing an annual report for the academic year just past, designing a curriculum workshop to be presented after the national honors conference in October, coming up with a strategy for creating an Honors Handbook).
Now that the kids are officially on summer vacation, though, there's one more thing on my plate -- helping out with kid care whenever I can to allow Noel to get his work done. The respite while the Conway School District was taking care of that for us is over. Summer may still be a more relaxed time work-wise, but we still have to face the reality that there are going to be two kids underfoot in somebody's office until day camps start ... at the end of June.