I love being home with my kids. When they started school I wasn’t ready to give up being available to them whenever they might need me, so I started working as a freelance writer. I’ve been able to create a pretty balanced life of working from home while they’re at school, and being fully present when they come home at 2pm. I also have a good bit of flexibility in my schedule for when they have days off from school or doctor’s appointments and the like.
But then summer comes, and all that balance goes right out the window. Since my husband and I are trying to save money this summer, camp is not an option. The kids are home with me all summer and I still have to maintain my workload. This is challenging for me, but I have found some ways to make it work without any of us going too crazy.
- Mornings are for fun. Afternoons are for work. We live in South Florida, where summers are hot and humid. It’s not even enjoyable to be outside for long periods of time. That’s why I try to make all outings in the morning. As a general rule we spend our mornings at the playground, at the zoo, with friends, in the pool, at the museum, or whatever fun comes our way. By lunch time we head back home where we have a simple meal and relax. My kids don’t nap anymore, so those precious two hours of silence are gone. But instead of nap time I have mandated quiet, independent play time while mommy works.
- Create boundaries. The kids have learned over the years that when I sit down with my computer and say, “I need to get work done,” that they need to respect my space. I have had to maintain those boundaries for myself and make them important so that they also deem that time important.
- Foster independence. I make sure snacks and drinks are accessible to my children so that I don’t have to get up every few minutes. They also know to clean up after themselves when they are done playing because the last thing I want to see when I’m done working is a huge mess! Thankfully they also have each other to play with. They have learned to play independently over the years.
- Screen time. I know there is a lot of negative talk concerning screen time, but I don’t see the harm in a daily limited screen time if my kids have spent most of the day playing outside or being creative. Usually in the late afternoon when I’m still trying to finish up a few work-related tasks I will allow them an hour of screen time. They are always the most quiet during this hour!
- Pre-determined activities. I try to have some kind of fun activity for my kids everyday. Some require minimal help and others require me to be more involved. Painting, science experiments, workbooks, sensory table. The activity is determined based on my workload that day. It helps that we switch it up each day instead of doing the same thing day after day.
- Flexibility. Sometimes stuff happens or a cool summer opportunity comes up (like a beach day!) and work goes right out the window. That’s okay with me as long as I can make it up later. I may take an hour in the evening while my husband is home to get work done, or I may stay up after my kids have gone to bed. I’m okay with being flexible and making small sacrifices so that we can have summer fun. The whole reason I have chosen a less traditional work life is so that I can be with my kids more.
Hopefully with these tips you will have a fun and productive summer.