What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word Summertime? For many parents it could mean, sunshine and sunscreen, camping and bug spray, water play and wet towels…piles, and piles of wet towels!
But we also know it means family time and vacation! Beach balls and shovels, sandcastles and snuggles, picnics at the park, trips to the zoo and giggling while running through the sprinklers. Those childhood days of summer are memories in the making!
But as summertime approaches it seems most of us work at home parents get that bittersweet feeling as the final school bell rings. Amidst all the chaos of last minute projects, and a sea of paperwork and school supplies they bring home on those last days, is the daunting feeling of finding a much needed balance. Work and family balance to be more specific.
The best of both worlds:
We love our children, we adore them even. One of the reasons we work so hard is we want to provide them a better life than we had growing up. A good education, decent clothes to wear, healthy food to eat, and a roof over their head. We know we are responsible to provide for them and we also want to spend quality time with them. We want the best of both worlds it would seem.
Please welcome our guest work-at-home-parents. Each of them has their own unique perspective and great ideas on how to balance your work time with your family this summer.
Summers are great, as my son (now 10) and I love swimming together, going to our local minor-league baseball team’s games – and our town has great family programming in the park (concerts, outdoor movies, etc.). But 24/7 parenting, to me is too much of a good thing. I’m a much better dad when I can take breaks.
I’m a college professor, so I am home during the summers, often juggling writing and class prep. What keeps me sane is that my son goes to a great camp with some of his best friends 3 days a week. This gives me the time I need to either plug away at work or have some time to myself, so I’m refreshed and in the right frame of mind for the summer.
We are really good friends with several local families who have kids my son’s age. Now that the kids are old enough, they can spend lots of time over each other’s houses. Maybe one day a week, we host the pack, but other days, they are at the neighbors, so, again, we have time for life. Obviously, things were more intense when kids are younger.
In my new book, The Working Dad’s Survival Guide, I give working dads tips and advice on how to strike the balance between work time, lots of family time, and taking time for ourselves. It’s a challenge, but with planning and the right attitude, we can do it.
Trying to do it all at once, squeeze in some of this and some of that is not going to make anyone their best self. Get help with the kids and focus on your business for 2 hours and you will accomplish more than 12 hours of 10 minutes at a time – not to mention how on edge it makes kids to feel like they are “squeezed in” I also slow down others expectations of me. Instead of saying ” I will get that back to you tomorrow.” I say “I will have that for you by the end of next week.” No one is disappointed and I can turn down the pressure of work and relax a bit too.
Summer is a magical, pixie dust kind of season. The sun and giggles, warm nights and flowers in bloom: it’s an amazing thing to experience next to your child, not pulling them through it but next to them. They feel a Moms anxious heart when she wants to escape or run back into her work, when she shushes them and hides in the shower to take a phone call. Don’t be that Mom. Trade kids with your neighbor, ask your husband to come home early 2 nights a week, sacrifice your sleep in one morning to get up and push the work off your plate so you can be present with your kids. Be careful not to talk sadly or anxiously about having them around more, they hear this and it hurts them and hurt kids act out even more. Embrace them and this time together and they will embrace and respect your space and routine too.
AND PS: Chill out about it all, the sky is not going to fall, what truly needs you will chase your heart around until you answer. Keep the faith.
I have three kids and have hooked up with another friend who also works from home with kids the same age. For 7 summers now, we have “traded” kids. I get a 4-hour block once or twice a week with no kids, while she has all. Then we swap another day (or two) of the week. Yes, it’s loud and crazy when I have all 5 kids in the house, but that silent 4-hour block is worth it!
I almost always end up working after they go to bed OR before they get up for a few uninterrupted hours. I am fortunate that my husband is also a Work At Home Parent so we also tag team. One person will take the kids out of the house to the pool or the working parent will leave the house and set up shop at the local coffee shop.
This year we also have saved something special for them-we’ve made a DIY lego table. We hope that the novelty of this gets us some extra peaceful play time.
And lastly, we are fairly strict with our screen time so when they do get it, they cherish it. I admit during the summers when they don’t have a camp they get to indulge more than any other time. I let them choose movie day or binge watch their lego shows. Everyone wins!
The best way to balance work and family time is to continue with a similar but altered bedtime and morning routine as when school was in session. I allow the kids to sleep later (ten pm) but I make sure everybody is up by 9 am. Schedule activities and naps throughout the day leaving time for “free” time.
I’m somewhat lucky that my kids are older, but teens who can’t drive yet still need Mom to help entertain them! I strike a deal with my kids: They let me work, uninterrupted, until noon each day. That means they get all their chores done–like tidying up their space, starting a load of dishes/laundry, feed the animals, get themselves breakfast and lunch–while I work, and then we go somewhere fun!
I get up by 6 so I can get a full workday in by noon, and then we’re able to unplug and go enjoy ourselves for the rest of the day!
On the days I really need to buckle down and GSD, I pack up my laptop and go to the coffee shop. The teens babysit their younger brother and I arrive home by 11 or 12.
Take them on public transit to parks,events and beaches. Great posts and lessons come from these trips.
As a fashion writer and blogger with two daughters, 7 and 9, at home, I find that I have no time to waste. Sometimes the only time I get is in the margins of my day – getting up early and staying up later. My girls go to bed promptly at 7:30, which gives me a few hours or so to work at night. I also maximize my time by doing “family work time”. They do their homework or use an app while I do my work. I also maximize any down time or waiting time I have by working from my phone. I send emails, make phone calls, listen to podcasts, read books on my Kindle app, and pin outfits for my clients.
Fortunately both of my girls will be in summer camp from 9-4pm. This will allow me to focus on work during the day and free up the late afternoon and evening to dedicate to them. No more late nights and weekend work!
As an Early Childhood Educator, I am able to combine my family time with my work. In the summer, take on children from other families, with parents who work from home, and go on adventures or do activities at our homes while their parents work. This has benefited all of our families.
I have also been a part of a group of parents with children of similar ages who benefit from taking turns swapping children so that we can all get things done. I have written a post on my own blog about this awesomeness, and you can see it here. Even if we all just get together to accomplish a task while one of us keeps an eye on the children, it makes what we need to do that much more enjoyable for both the adults and children.
Now that you have read these fabulous tips from these 10 parents, tell us which ones do you plan to incorporate this summer? Do you have any additional helpful tips you would like to share? Comment below and if you like these tips please share this post!
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