As a work-at-home mom, I have a love/hate relationship with summer. I love not having to wash school uniforms, monitor homework, get three kids ready for school (or these days, repeatedly tell them to get ready), and most of all, I love not being bound by carpool.
On the flipside, I’m making lunches, entertaining kids, running a social media company, arranging childcare for times I have to go to meetings and keeping my children quiet while I’m on a conference call. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and exhausted.
I realize what a privilege it is to be able to earn a living from home. I love my job, my clients, and I am fortunate to have found something flexible that I enjoy. However, I do not earn enough to justify the cost of summer camp for the entire summer, so for two months, I have to get creative when it comes to juggling my children’s needs, the demands of keeping up a house and running a business.
Over the last three years, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks on how to make the most of the summer as a work-at-home mom of school age children!
Lower your expectations on what a “clean” house looks like. The kids are home. All day, every day. You can of course teach them to clean up after themselves, but when you have multiple people home, more stuff will be strewn about, and the laundry pile will turn into a mountain. If you can prepare yourself for this and adjust your expectations, you will save yourself a lot of frustration. Of course, if it’s in your budget, I definitely recommend hiring a housekeeper … still less expensive than summer camp!
Trade babysitting with another work-at-home or stay-at-home mom. You take her kids for a day, she takes yours the next. I have found this arrangement invaluable. Just one day a week to myself made it worth the trade which brought SIX kids to my house.
Invest in water play. We bought a 3 foot blow up pool for under $50, and my kids spend a couple hours a day slathered in sunscreen, swimming their hearts out. Bonus: when they are finished, I can usually give them a snack, put on a movie and get another hour or so of work done! Other water play ideas: water table, little blue pool, blow up water slide, sprinkler.
Take some time off. While we all take a day off now and then, there is something to be said about having multiple days off in a row. I don’t know your business or your obligations, but if at all possible, take a week off of work and spend quality time with your kiddos. One summer, I neglected to do this, and I regret it. At the time, I didn’t feel like I could take off work, but that was the last summer I had a six-year-old, a five-year-old and a three-year-old. If you can’t take a week off, try to adjust your schedule so you work in the evenings or take a long weekend. Pause and enjoy this time, mama. It is fleeting.
Accept Help. Do you have family around? Enlist their help! You may also have to ask your partner to manage some specific tasks. For me, taking three children grocery shopping was the bane of my existence. Once I talked to my husband about my struggle, he took over the shopping duties. Of course there were days I needed to get out of the house and a trip to the grocery sounded like a vacation, so I would go when he got home from work.
Enforce Boundaries. Business boundaries, that is. Working from home with kids does require flexibility, but it should not mean your business runs your life. Align your business goals and objectives with the demands of summer, and adhere to “off” hours, whatever they might be (when you’re sleeping doesn’t count).
Things might have to slow down a little during summer break, and that’s okay. Your business will survive. Your children will thrive. And you will not totally lose your mind, I promise.