For children, summer vacation is the pinnacle of their year. Swimming, playing, sleeping in, and being at home are a few of the things that epitomize childhood summers. For parents who work from home, notions of summer vacation are a little different. Those who operate a service business may need to spend much of the time away from home. In this case, arrangements for your child(ren) must be made. If you write or work independently from home, then you will have to be creative. Here are some tips to work productively while children are on summer vacation.
- Keep a Detailed Calendar and Plan Ahead – You need to know what is happening ahead of time. Keep a calendar and put everything on it that MUST be done (dentist appointments, baseball practice, etc). Each weekend, take a look at the coming week and determine what blocks of time you can devote to work. As much as possible, assign goals to each block: e.g. Monday morning (work) – write blog post, write guest post, spend 15 minutes in social media. You will be more productive during your work times if you are able to work toward achieving certain goals.
- Be Realistic about your Schedule – Those who obtain childcare may know exactly the hours that they can work, while those without childcare may have to block out times of their day to fit in work. I suggest to those without childcare that you get to know the quiet times in your home. This may mean that you are up before the sun and well after the sun has gone down. The only way you will be productive is to find quiet blocks of time.
- Have an “Office” – You may or may not have an entire room that can be used solely as an office, but either way you should be sure to establish rules and boundaries for your office space. For example, there should be no loud play in the office area. It is understandable that if you have toddlers, they may need to play around your feet, but you can begin to stress to them that this is where you work and it should be a quiet zone. Encourage behavior and volume-control that is library-appropriate.
- Schedule Playdates – If your children are school-aged, then you may be able to arrange a weekly “swap”. Have a friend come play at your house for a morning or an afternoon, and then later in the week your child can play at the friend’s house. I find that even with friends at my house, my children are happy and occupied, and it gives me a chance to get things done.
- Find Places to Work and Play – There are many places that you can let children play with minimal supervision. You can bring along your work and try to get bits and pieces done. Take short breaks to play with the kids. Here are a few examples: 1) your yard. Grab a chair and keep an eye on the kids as they play in the yard or ride their bikes on the sidewalk or blow bubbles. 2) an age-appropriate indoor or outdoor playground. Keep one eye on the kids and the other on your laptop. 3) a pool or beach. Obviously, you need to be confident here that your child(ren) can handle the depth of the water. If you have non-swimmers, then a sprinkler or splash park is the way to go.
- Be Flexible – As a parent, you already get plenty of practice with being flexible. As a work-at-home parent, you will definitely be called on to think outside the box. Your work may be done primarily on a computer, but if you are going somewhere without an internet connection and you need to work, then you may need to bring your calendar to get some planning done or a pen and paper to write the old-fashioned way. Your work may involve supplies for crafting, but if you must squeeze in some work away from your inventory, you may choose to bring your checkbook to write out some bills.
What are some tips that you have used to manage work and family in the summertime?
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