Summer vacation is highly anticipated by children but are often dreaded weeks for work-at-home parents. Suddenly, the several hours of quiet work time of the school year is gone and the chaos and noise of summer days have taken over. It can be so difficult to stay focused and on task when being constantly interrupted by the cries of “I’m bored! I’m hungry! He’s annoying me!”
So what’s a work-at-home parent to do? While different tactics are more or less effective for different families, here are a few tips that can help you to make it through the summer unscathed – and with your job and clients still intact.
Be Clear with Your Children About Expectations
At the beginning of each work day, remind your children that while they are on “vacation”, you still have work that needs to be done. Use analogies that they can identify with to help them understand your needs and set clear rules about interrupting your work time. One of the simplest tactics is to create and “if-then” scenario with a reward for them. For instance, if you can play quietly in your room for an hour so that I can finish my report, then we can go outside and play in the sprinkler.
Create a Schedule for Everyone
Most children respond well to schedules and structure. Take a look at your workday and figure out complimentary activities for your children during work hours. If you have conference calls, try to schedule those during a quiet movie time. Need total silence to concentrate on a piece of written work? Restructure your work day to complete those tasks after their bedtime. Add in frequent breaks for playtime and plan mealtimes together so that the kids can have your undivided attention, as well.
Swap Childcare with Other Parents
All parents, whether they work from home or not, can use a break now and then. By trading off childcare responsibilities, everyone can get some focused work hours or just a little bit of quiet and the kids get to have a fun playdate! Everyone wins!
Plan Outings Around Wi-Fi Options
Check for local parks, bounce houses, library programs, and other fun locations for outings where there is good, free Wi-Fi. Take along your laptop and task list, then start crossing items off your list while keeping an eye on the kids as they get out some energy or enjoy a craft and story.
Take Advantage of Day Camps and Community Programs
Half-day camps, short activity camps, mom’s day out, and church VBS programs are often affordable solutions to help you get a few solid work hours in your day. They also offer the added bonus of some socialization and, depending on the type of program you choose, a bit of summer learning. If cost is an issue, check to see if there are scholarships available for day camp programs. I have one child this Summer that will be attending soccer camp and I’m loving the idea of kids coding summer camp with how excited all of our kids have been about technology
Enlist the Help of Older Children or Local Teens
Pay your older children to keep an eye on the younger ones or hire a neighborhood teen to be a mother’s helper for a few hours a day. Though you’ll be close by for any emergencies or important jobs like meal prep or diaper changes, you can spend some focused time working while older tweens and teens provide supervision.
Remember, keeping the age of your children and the level of supervision in mind is crucial when developing your summer work plan. You might need to get a little creative, but surviving the summer is within reach!
What are your plans for keeping kids busy and keeping your work moving this Summer?