I’ve been working from home since before my babies were born. Now that those babies are 13, 15, and 17, the logistics of my work-at-home-ery has changed quite a bit since those early days of juggling emails, potty training and wiping up spilled apple juice.
But, it is still a challenge, in different ways. Rather than chasing after their little diapered butts, I’m chasing after football schedules (which, might I warn you, will take over your life), pickup basketball games, orthodontic appointments, and the like.
And when school is out for the summer? Yeah. Still gets really interesting. ‘Round these parts its hot outside and there’s just not much to do other than swim. Then there is still 3 football practices per week (did I mention high school football takes over your life?) and distractions that aren’t normally there during the day when school is in session.
It’s easy to get, well, bitter…to be honest. I battle the feeling of “You’re on my turf, punk”, and I don’t want to be that mom and give off that vibe. So each year I have to regroup and figure out a strategy that helps me get things done but also lets me enjoy the time I have with my kids (what little there is left of it).
So here are a few things I’ve done over the past few summers that I find really help me keep my sanity. Maybe one will help you too!
Tips on Working From Home During Summer Break
1. Communicate your needs – I put this one first because its always the hardest for me. I guess I just assume everyone knows what kind of time I need each day to focus on work, but that’s not necessarily true. You’d be surprised how willing your hubby and kids will back you when you let them know (…nicely) what you need and expect of them. Things get done, hands pitch in, and there’s little misunderstanding when you communicate what needs to happen for you and everyone else to be successful. It becomes a team effort rather than “me against the world”.
2. Have a friend over - You’re like, “What? Add one more kid???”. But really, don’t you notice the change in dynamic when you add a friend to the mix? My kids are pretty self-entertaining, but they have more fun and I get a little break when there is a friend around so they can keep each other entertained. And the bonus? That friend’s mom may just return the favor to give you a nice little break!
3. Get out of the house - In the past, my boys have asked to “walk the mall” by themselves and though they’re old enough to go alone at this point, I like to tag along, at a distance. I settle into my spot at Starbucks with my laptop and let them go do their thing. It gets us all out of the house and gives us a little breathing room.
4. Get Up 2 hours early - Sometimes I just need quiet to work. If the TV is on or there are doors opening and closing every 30 seconds its hard to focus. So I take advantage of the quiet of early mornings and get a few hours in before the summer sleepy heads get up.
5. Stay up 2 hours late - And if that’s not your thing…stay up a few hours later. Summer time usually means less early morning commitments, so stay up a little (a little…not a lot!) later and sleep in a bit . Let Jr. get his own cereal.
6. Use headphones - For my birthday last year, The Mr. bought me these awesome Bose noise canceling earphones. And I’m totally in love. I can plug in my headphones, turn on Pandora, and the outside world doesn’t exist. If your kids are old enough and you can safely block out what’s going on around you for a bit, I highly recommend it. Its actually quite relaxing, even though you’re still working.
7. Summer Camp - Summer camp is a godsend, isn’t it? Its good for kids and good for parents. We send our kids to church camp every year. Its a great time for them to get away to a safe, totally fun-filled location while we get a break. Our kids have attended UCYC (local to southern Arizona) and CIY. I’m a huge fan of both…and so are my kids.
8. Plan Ahead - If you have a job like mine, you can build in some flexibility for the summer. I try to schedule a little extra right before summer and right after so I can pare down a bit during the summer.
9. Turn down the non-essentials - Related to juggling my schedule, it helps to weed out the non-essential work related things. Especially in the blogging world, there are opportunities that don’t have to be seized. Perhaps cut back on your blogging frequency. Turn down a conference or product review opp. Personally, the summer isn’t the time I’m going to cram in a lot of work, at least not during this phase of life. My kids and my sanity are way more valuable than a nice PayPal payment.
10. Capitalize on your family time - Finally, capitalize on the quality time you can spend with your kids. If you have to get 6-8 hours in during the day, make sure dinner is a time to actually sit and have good conversation. Use a week vacation to not take your laptop and work, but to connect with your kids and soak them up.
It is more evidently clear to me every day how little time I have left with these kids I’ve been given. I’m pretty certain I won’t look back at these days and regret turning down that great project or saying no to that amazing opportunity. But I could regret not cherishing the short time I have with these kiddos. All you can do is recognize what your choices are, do your best, and forget the rest of it.
What do you do to make your summer successful as a WAHM?
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