Working from home has some problems.
For example, my commute is the worst.
It takes, like, 14-seconds to walk down the stairs to my office.
And the dress code is horrible. I mean, clothing required. Any clothing. Geesh, way to get all picky, kids!
Okay, I can’t even go on with a straight face. There certainly are perks. See the dress code, for example.
Maybe I’m wearing a bra while I write this, maybe I’m not? I’ll never tell.
But there are some struggles. Three months of summertime with four kids ranks right up there as #1 in my book.
They have a house full of toys and games and stuff. Lots of stuff.
And they have each other, I mean, that’s why I kept having them! So they should be entertained.
They are not. It’s still a lot of “Mom, Momma, Mommy, Ma…” during the summer months. And I spend a lot of time asking them to leave me the heck alone.
Not cool, Mom, not cool at all.
Summer: the best and worst of times, amirite?
So how do I make it work? Welp, I don’t. Ha! At least not perfectly.
My life is an imperfect mess at best during the summer months. But we make do the best we can.
However, here are a few tips I’ve learned from two summers working from home that might help you get through June, July and August.
Ship Them Off to Grandma’s Summer Camp
Now, I’ve been at home (while making money) since way back in 2009 when my previous employer opened a WFH program. I remember the sheer glee when I was selected as one of the first ten agents to take their headphones home with them.
Gamechanger. I could do dishes on my break, change laundry between calls, and cook dinner during my lunch. My work/life balance finally found some truth.
And during the summer? My kids stayed at Camp Grandma during my working hours!
And we were all better for it.
Hey, No-Guilt Life, remember?
This worked for me. Until my mom moved back to Texas, anyway.
It may not work for you.
If it’s not an option (not everyone is like my mom!), then try something else to get the kids out of the house for a bit. Set them up with water games outside. Schedule a summer camp. Maybe trade off kid time with a fellow work from home parent in your neighborhood.
Oh- and don’t overlook the idea of a mother’s helper: a teen looking to earn a few bucks playing with your kids. Everyone wins in this situation!
A few hours can make ALL the difference in your summer sanity.
If You Can’t Do That, Do This
Set expectations with the kids and have “working hours”.
I use air quotes when I say this because, in some lines of work, you work all the dang time. Like mine.
But that’s not fair to the kids when they are home all summer long. And not fair to me, either, since I love being the mom in the whole mom’ing of these little people.
So I set some hours and so far (knock on wood!) it’s being respected by all of us.
My kids know that I’m going to be unavailable to play Scooby, to referee who’s turn it is on the Xbox, and to listen to their flute composition from 6 am to 9 am. And again from 1 pm to 4 pm.
It’s working, by George!
Caveat: my kids are teens, tweens, and a kindergartener and they can be relatively unsupervised for chunks of time.
And If That Doesn’t Pan Out…
Change your hours.
Work more doing the nights and early mornings and less during the day.
QUIET, children, Mommy IS WORKING!
Sound familiar? Yeah, my neighbors heard a lot of that the first summer we were all home together.
To keep them from moving away (which they did anyway… ) I changed things up and worked in the evenings. By that time in the day, my kids were worn out and happily watching some screens.
This method still comes into play from time to time depending on what we have planned during the day.
Oh, you need sleep? Naps, y’all. Naps. They aren’t just for kids!
Take Time Off
Parenting: it’s a full-time job, but I believe you should get time and a half pay for summer months.
Since that’s not going to happen (sigh, I asked), I’ll take extra time off in exchange.
Take time to head to the movies- we’re big movie fans over here. And I’m also a big fan of low-cost movies so I suggest checking out the Regal Summer Movies program.
We also have a plan in place, and that plan includes taking all of us on extended day trips from time to time. And when that happens, I won’t be working.
And when all else fails, plan a vacation. Get out of Dodge and enjoy the time off from the paying job.
Look, everyone needs one. This isn’t a cop-out. It’s a reminder.
Even if your business relies on daily contact and production; you still need some downtime.
A family vacation can be a bit of that downtime.
We planned a few weekend trips and one big long one coming up.
It should fill in the time, uh, I mean, create lasting memories for years to come.
What’s your best tip for surviving the summer as a parent working from home?
Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)