Working From Home with Kids During Summer Break
I love summer and I truly love being at home with my kids! As I sit at my home office desk, I know I’m so blessed to have a flexible stay-at-home job! But let me just say, working from home with kids is not an easy thing to do. I was a hot mess at first. It’s a shock to the system to have your morning filled with chaos once again. I know I’m not alone. Summertime presents a challenge each year for home-based working moms. Keeping up with your work life while keeping the kids entertained is a task too daunting for almost any mom. Kids need attention. They want to have fun. They want to play, go to the park, have friends over, go swimming; they want food constantly and so on. My kids are “elementary-aged” so managing work and family time is easier for me than say a mom with a household full of toddlers. And, thankfully, we’ve finally figured out how to cohabitate. But no matter the age of your kids, here are some tips to help you get work done without the guilt of closing the office door on the kids all day long.
Plan Time To Play. What I’ve discovered is that working at my office desk in the morning is best for my family. That way we can spend the afternoon doing something fun. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Two hours at the pool, park, movies, etc. is a great release from that work stress. Plus, it gives you leverage! My kids know that if they let me get my work finished (and get along), there is something fun to look forward to.
Out of Sight. Having an office on the main floor near the kitchen (where mine was) is a recipe for disaster when kids are coming and going. If it’s possible, move to an out of the way place like a basement (which is cooler in the summer too). It will be much quieter and there will be far less interruptions. I don’t mean to hide completely but if you make it less convenient for them to find you, sometimes the problem they wanted you to solve becomes something they can figure out on their own.
Work Companions. If you’ve purchased school workbooks to help reduce brain drain over the summer, have your kids sit down and complete their worksheets at the same time you are working. Or if you have an old computer around that the kids can use for playing games, you can set it up near your desk. If they are able to play quietly, they can spend some time “working” with you in the office.
Get Up Early / Stay Up Late. With the kids home during the summer, count on the fact that there are going to be plenty of distractions. In order to plan for uninterrupted work time, try getting up an hour early (my least favorite) or stay up an hour late (my second least favorite) to ensure that you will have time available to be there for the kids during the day as well as quiet time to make sure work gets done and deadlines are met.
Get organized. I don’t know about your family, but mine rely on knowing what comes next. None of us function well with ambiguity. Buy a giant calendar and put your planned events on there for them to view. My youngest lives his life by that calendar. It helps him prepare for the day. They know first-hand when mommy is working in the morning and what fun is planned in the afternoon!
Kid swap. If you have a really important project or conference call to attend, try to make plans with a friend nearby to swap the kids. You take their kids for a day and they take yours another day. This can be fun for the kids as well as a way to squeeze in some quality work time.
Don’t forget, the work will always be there so try not to stress about when it gets finished. Make time for your kids while they are still young enough to want to hang out with you. Summertime can still be both a fun time for the family and you can get still your work done! The key is to prioritize and plan your day —and make it work to your advantage.