There is roughly a month left of school (where we live). What that means is I'll have a break from the stressful, activity-filled school days and a reprieve from the driving here to there at a frenzied pace. But it also means that the work at home environment will change quite a bit. There are going to be some extra souls to contend with at home, and that usually means more noise, more interruptions, and eventually some frustrated feelings for both me and my children.
I truly love my children, but by the end of the summer, I can sometimes find myself frazzled and counting down the minutes until school starts. So, in an effort to skip the stress, I've decided to plan and have a strategy in place before that last school bell rings! As a result, I've compiled the following tips to help myself and work-at-home women everywhere have a productive and peaceful summer break:
Tip 1: Take a Vacation
I know that sounds kind of silly, but, you DO need a break. Family vacations are practically an American pastime. And truly, nothing is better than building memories together as a family. You are probably thinking that you already work from home, so, how much of a break do you really need. Well, I feel strongly that all of us, yes, even we work at home women need to step away from our work and recharge. I feel so passionately about this I have even dedicated a post to it in the past … check it out.
Tip 2: Set Up an Alternative Schedule
If you have the flexibility, an alternative schedule during the summer months can be great for you and your family. Scenarios like a 4-day work week, or shifted hours (where you start super early and end your day early or start late and end late) can give you the opportunity to spend more quality time with your kid(s) over the summer months.
Personally, I am planning to do a combination of both.
I'm hoping to arrange for a 4-day work week at least every other week and am planning on starting early so I could wrap up early on the days I work. This would give my children and me the opportunity to hit the beach on my extra day off during the abbreviated workweeks, and we'll ALSO have time for activities in the afternoons when I start early/finish early. Since my kids are a little older, that work schedule really pays off because I will be working while they are sleeping, so, they won't miss me, AND I'll still have the bonus of a relatively quiet house while I am working.
Tip 3: Get Really Clear About Work Hours/Boundaries
If your kids are old enough to entertain themselves, we can take for granted that they understand we are busy and keep our noses to the grindstone. The problem with this is they'd end up coming in my office 8,000 times to ask questions, see if I was done yet, talk about disputes they were having with their siblings, etc., etc., etc. I solved this by calling a family meeting and sharing what my official work hours will be and when I plan to take lunch. This helped them to understand when I needed to focus on work and when I would be focused on them. I learned it was harder for me to stick to the bargain than it was for them.
For example, during the school year, I rarely take a lunch break and usually work through my lunch. I had to change this by committing that time midday each day to stop work and have lunch with them. Ultimately, the changes we made together were well worth it. Our lunches together broke up the day for them, and I had a chance to develop some new habits while also enjoying them now that they were home.
Tip 4: Summer Camps Can Be a Great Resource for You and Your Child
Each summer I would typically know in advance when I was expected to undertake a time-consuming project. My kids also typically have a hobby or passion they are interested in pursuing, so, I'd time their camp attendance with the week when I knew I'd be buried in work. This was a definite WIN-WIN for the kids and me, and we all appreciated each other that much more once the camps were over.
These are some of the suggestions that have worked for my family, but, bear in mind that my kids have all been middle school or older since I began this Work at Home Adventure. What ideas would you add to the mix? If you have younger kids, how do you balance your work-at-home duties and your little ones all summer?