School is out for the summer… now what?
For children it can be one of their favorite times of year – summer vacation – but for parents it can mean stress over how to keep the kids busy, safe, and away from the video games 8 hours each day. If you’re a work-at-home mom or in a household where both parents work outside of the home, summer vacation for the kids can be challenging to weave into your workload and family responsibilities.
Summer Vacation and Work-at-Home Moms
How will you get anything done?
The kids are out of school and all they want to do is stay up late, swim every day, and run through the house leaving a trail of grass clippings and popsicle juice. Working at home can be challenging for parents during summer break from school, but there are a few strategies than can help everyone enjoy the summer sun (and still make deadlines for work).
Establish a routine. Consider what you and your kids most want to do this summer, then create a work schedule that allows for some of those things to happen. During the summer I take the early mornings to complete my work, as I have teens who like to sleep in and have slower starts to their days. The kids know that my work responsibilities must be met in order for us to go on and have some fun together, so they respect my need for routine.
Give the kids responsibilities. Household chores and yard-work help children build lifelong skills. These activities also help ease your workload around the house and keep the kids busy. Consider a schedule that has the kids doing their chores while you’re in work mode so that everyone has a similar schedule.
Keep your promises. If you tell the kids you will be finished by lunch so you can head to the beach, make sure you follow through with that. Your kids will learn to rely on your word and keep their own promises, but you will also all benefit from a break together.
Consider swapping kids with a friend. If you just need a few hours a week working at home alone, trade days or afternoons with a friend. You’ll both get “quiet time” and the kids will look forward to playing with their friends.
Help your kids find quiet summer hobbies. On those super-hot days when everyone wants to spend the afternoon hanging out in air-conditioning, have the kids try some new hobbies that will keep their hands and brains busy at the kitchen table. Painting, crafting, scrapbooking, sewing, or building model rockets and cars are all great boredom busters and can give you the time you need to catch up on work.
Wear them out. When the kids were younger our summers were spent running like crazy during the morning, hiking, going to the park, and ending at the library with a picnic lunch somewhere. By the time we got home they were ready to either nap or chill out and read their library books. I had a few hours to work, and then we still had time to head outside to enjoy the pool or another fun summer activity.
If your children are on the verge of “staying home alone” age, but not quite ready for the responsibility, appeasing them and keeping them safe can be a challenge. They don’t want to be in daycare, but you don’t want them fending for themselves for 8 hours each day while you work outside the home. It is time to find some compromises that will meet both of your needs.
- Find a responsible teenager (yes, they do exist) who can come to the house and hang-out with your kids, maybe take them to the pool, the park, and the library.
- Find a stay-at-home mom with older kids who is willing to have your children as an extra appendage to her family during the summer. It can provide both her and your kids with playmates, and give her a little extra spending cash. If exchanging cash is a challenge between friends, offer to spring for pool and zoo passes for everyone for the summer – a win-win for everyone.
- Consider allowing your children to stay home alone part-time (if they are old enough and ready for the responsibility). This might just be letting them get themselves ready for the day before a neighbor comes over to stay with them, or letting them spend the afternoons home alone once lunch is over. Easing into these roles can be valuable learning experiences for your kids.
- Try negotiating a summer work schedule. Maybe you can telecommute for one or two days each week, or rearrange a few hours every week to better fit with your partner’s work schedule so that one of you is home longer.
Summer vacation from school (even for us homeschoolers) can be filled with challenges of negotiating schedules. However, it should still be a time to explore, learn, and have opportunities to engage in fun activities. Even though as a work-at-home mom my workload doesn’t take a summer vacation, I still love evenings by the bonfire, tents in the backyard, and digging my toes in the sand with the kids. On those really good days, I even get a little work done while they splash by my feet. Pretty soon you’ll be a work-at-home woman and the kids will be spending summers at their own summer jobs – enjoy the chaos now.