If you have kids and work-from-home, you are probably dreading the approach of the summer months. While other parents can look forward to an easier daily schedule, you will be juggling work and childcare tasks, and all while ensuring that you and your youngsters get some quality time in this summer.
How do maintain a reasonable work schedule while your kids are home during the summer?
1. Consider a schedule shift.
It may not be feasible for you to maintain your usual 9-to-5 or 7-to-4 “shift” when your kids are pulling you out of bed in the wee hours of the morning and asking to go to the beach, the zoo, etc. To accommodate their activities with your work needs, consider switching the times that you work.
If you get up a few hours ahead of your kids, you can put in 2-3 hours of time at work, then take the afternoon off to go play. In the late afternoon, say 4 pm, you can return to your work and put in another 5-6 hours.
While this type of schedule virtually ensures that you won’t have much free time in the evenings, it does allow you to schedule consistent activities with your kids during the day.
2. Find fellow freelancer parents.
You’re probably not the only work-at-home parent who has kids running amok during the summer months. Connect with fellow parents in your neighborhood, church, or social groups and arrange to “swap” your kids for playdates at each other’s houses.
By creating a network of parents, you effectively create an impromptu “day camp” co-op which you can rely on when there’s a pressing work deadline or when you need to meet with a client. Or when you just want a day off for yourself.
3. Outsource your childcare.
Don’t feel guilty about hiring a babysitter or using a daycare center to maintain your regular work schedule. You don’t need to be with your kids 24/7. As long as you carve out some evening and/or weekend time with your children, you can still spend a lot of quality time together.
While outsourcing your childcare will mean less money for you, it beats missing a pressing work deadline or losing a client because you weren’t available to take an important call. In the long run, outsourcing your childcare will reduce your stress level and make you a better parent too.
4. Pay for day and/or summer camp.
Many church groups, local parks, YMCAs and recreation centers offer day and/or summer camp sessions that last from one to eight weeks- or even longer. Such camps not only keep kids entertained during the summer months, they help keep parents sane.
There are fees involved with getting your kids enrolled in a day or summer camp, but these fees are often manageable and far less than daycare or even babysitting fees. In some cases, charitable organizations might pick up part of the tab for parents who can’t afford the full rate.
5. “Guilt” your extended family.
If you are lucky enough to have your parents or siblings living nearby, “suggest” that they spend some quality time with your kids this summer. Make it easy on your relatives to say yes by offering to drop off and pick up your kids at a moment’s notice. You can also sweeten the deal by purchasing tickets to amusement and water parks for the entire group, or vouchers to area restaurants.
If your relatives have kids of their own, you could also trade off play dates or even weeks with each other, giving everyone a much needed break from kid-induced chaos.
6. Get away from it all- while working.
If you can work from anywhere, why not work from a summer cabin, a hotel, or even a campground? As long as you have WiFi connection, you could take your work on vacation, along with your kids, and just let them play while you get your tasks done. If all else fails, sneak away to a coffee shop and put in a few hours there while your spouse looks after the little ones.
7. Embrace the chaos.
You needn’t schedule every hour of every day for your kids when they are off from school. Let the youngsters spend some time watching TV or playing outside on their own. If they get hungry, have some quick snacks available and resist the urge to continually cook.
When your kids (inevitably) get bored, suggest some activities for them- but don’t become their sole source of entertainment either. Kids need to find their own fun.
Summer fun can be had by you and your kids
Summertime schedule changes can be a challenge when you work from home and have kids to look after. However, with a little planning, you needn’t stress out over how you’ll get your assignments done or keep up with client demands. Best of all, you’ll actually enjoy spending the summer months with your family.