How To Survive Working From Home With Kids: Summer
Keeping your kids home for the summer has its perks: more bonding time with your children, reduced or no childcare costs, and your kids get a break from strict school schedules.
However, there is one major downside. Kids in the house can be a major hindrance to being productive for work.
If you let your kids get in the way of your productivity, you run the risk of missed deadlines, unhappy clients, and if you are employed by someone else, an upset boss who might revoke your work from home privileges.
It is possible to be productive when working from home with kids this summer. To be successful, you must have a plan.
Read the tips that I will be using this summer to help me stay on track while working from home with kids. Use the tips to create your summer success plan.
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How to survive working from home with kids – Summer Edition
How to manage your kids
If you no longer get the luxury of your child taking naps, you need to implement quiet time. Without downtime in the middle of the day, you might not survive working from home with kids this summer.
Quiet time is a part of the day when the kids entertain themselves. They can read books, watch TV, play with toys, or color but they are not allowed to leave their assigned space. Plus, mommy and daddy are off limits.
My oldest stopped napping around age three, and since I needed that afternoon time, this is when I began implementing this period of self-play. While her sister napped, she could watch a movie, and she was not to leave the couch unless she had to use the bathroom or until the movie is over.
It worked, and I learned how precious this time was. To this day, my oldest will have quiet time when the youngest naps. She does not always watch a movie, but she does entertain herself.
You might be saying “But, my children are too young to ignore for a few hours!” I agree with you.
Because my oldest is still young, I keep an eye on her during this time by working within eyesight to where she is playing. If she leaves the room, I keep an ear out for her and check on her often.
If she comes to me during this time, I remind her that mommy is working and that I will be available when quiet time ends.
Read this post on the Mama Finds Her Way blog for quiet time implementation tips.
Your kids are going to ask for your attention. They will want you to play a game, dress their doll, kick a soccer ball, or help them build a fort.
Too often as parents, we are quick to say no when our kids ask for our attention. When we say no to our children, one of three things happen. 1) The child says okay and moves on (very rare). 2) The child turns away hurt thinking that you do not want to spend time with them. 3) The child will ask you to play every five minutes until you cave or get mad.
This is why I believe that most of the time it is best to say yes when my kids ask me to play. The exceptions being when I am on a call, in the final hours leading up to a deadline, or during quiet time.
When I say yes, I always set parameters before we start playing. The most important parameter is time. I am very specific on how much time I will give them, and I typically set a timer. The timer is helpful because it keeps me honest. I am not stopping play earlier than I should, and I am not getting so lost in playtime that I forget to go back to work. While playing all day with my kids would be great, I must make work a priority.
My kids want to be a part of my day, and by giving them small bits of time when they ask, it expresses to them that they are both important and a part of my day! As a result, they spend more time doing independent play.
For a timer, I use the Amazon Echo. My kids like it because they can hear me set the timer. It continues to set the trust that I am giving them as much time as I promised. Also, they love to hear the Echo respond when they ask how much time is left. It certainly adds a few more giggles to our play time.
Take advantage of independent playtime
If your child plays well by themselves, use this time to your advantage.
When my kids are independently playing, I will sit in the room with them and catch up on work. I select tasks from my to-do list that I would not mind getting interrupted in the middle. After all, it is not quiet time, so if my kids ask me to play with them, I am going to accept their request.
Some of the tasks that I complete during independent playtime include checking email, business related social media responsibilities, outlining future blog posts, updating and prioritizing my work to-do list, and reading business books.
With your kids at home, you will learn that they will take up a lot of your time. Benefit from any time they give you.
Schedule family time
Whether you are running your own business or an employee with the ability to work remote, one thing tends to be true: office time easily blends with home time. With no environment separations between your home and office, it is very easy to let the two overlap. Therefore, you must make it a point to schedule family time.
You might be saying, “But I am going to be home all day with my kids. I am taking breaks and spending time with them throughout the day. Doesn’t that count?”
It might not be enough. Plus, this time probably doesn’t include your significant other if they work outside the home.
At a minimum, have scheduled family time one day a week; time your kids know that they will have their parent’s full attention.
Maybe it is a walk to the neighborhood park every Saturday morning. Or, perhaps it is a trip to get ice cream after Thursday night sports practice.
For my family, it is Friday night pizza and a movie.
My girls look forward to this day all week. They know that no matter how busy the week is, Friday nights are about them, and Mommy and Daddy will not be working during that time.
Send your child to camp
Summer camps can equal a fantastic opportunity for both kids and parents.
For kids, it gives them time to play with children their age, make new friends, have fun someplace new, and possibly learn in a unique environment.
For parents who work at home, it gives them time during the day to focus on work without kids around.
If you are planning on working from home with your kids this summer, you probably do not want to or cannot afford to send your child to all-day camps for the whole summer. Luckily, most summer camp programs have weekly sessions. This means that you can send your child to just one session or as many as you want.
A week at a summer camp could be the ideal break both you and your kids need.
Your summer camp options will depend on where you live and how far you want to travel. They might include overnight camps, all-day camps, or partial day camps.
We live in the Tampa Bay area, and there are a lot of unique summer camp options. They include Busch Gardens, the zoo, the aquarium, and baseball camps with the Tampa Bay Rays. Also, a lot of afterschool activity facilities offer summer camps including gymnastics, dance, and karate.
Because of the ages of my children, I will not take advantage of this tip this summer. However, I will be considering camps for future summers and wanted to share the tip in case your children are at the perfect ages to enjoy a camp experience.
Get out of the house
It is summer. Most likely, the last thing your kids are going to want to do is to sit at home all day, every day.
Get out of the house and find ways to have fun together.
If your schedule is flexible, take a morning or afternoon once a week to take the kids some place fun. Maybe it is the local zoo or a splash park. You can then make up the missed work time in the evening or throughout the week.
If you do not have a flexible schedule, you can still implement this idea. Bring the kids to a park over your lunch break. Or, depending on your hours, take them on an adventure before or right after work.
For me, I plan on implementing this idea two ways. In the mornings, we have scheduled outdoor time. A few days a week we will use this time to walk to the park.
Then, each Thursday morning, we will go somewhere fun. Places on our summer bucket list include the zoo, Busch Gardens, the beach, the children’s museum, and the splash park.
On these days, we will head home around lunch time, and I will start my work day when the kids have a nap and quiet time.
How to manage your work
Get daytime help
Summer means two things for me. 1 – I will have two children home all day. 2) My daytime support will be leaving.
Currently, my mother takes my youngest for about two hours every day. While two hours might not seem like much, two hours of uninterrupted work time is incredible! Her help also allows me to attend meetings and networking events.
I have realized how important it is to have this help. To survive the summer, I will be hiring a sitter to watch the girls 4-6 hours a week. I will use this time to sneak away for quiet work time, to meet with clients, or to attend networking events.
Yes, there is an expense to this care, but to me, the time is worth the cost.
If you cannot afford this cost or do not trust babysitters, you might have other options.
- See if a nearby family member can take the kids for a few hours one day a week.
- Consider swapping time with other moms. Take their children one day a week in exchange for them taking yours on a different day. Not only does it give you your needed time, but it also gives the other mom a break. Even stay-at-home moms might be up for this offer.
- Hire a mother’s helper. This person entertains the kids while you are home. They are different from a babysitter because they are not entirely in charge; they are only helping you so you can focus on other tasks. To learn more, visit the Mother Like a Boss blog.
Create a cleaning schedule
If you work from home, you probably understand how the state of your house impacts your productivity. It is easy to let your focus drift from your work tasks to the dirty dishes or piles of laundry.
Create a cleaning schedule so when it is time to work, you can focus on work. Even if you have a cleaning service, there are still cleaning tasks that need to be completed by you.
Seeing things untidy when I am working from home is a distraction. My house does not need to be spotless, but it cannot be chaotic.
Because of this, I have got into the habit of cleaning every morning. I follow a schedule that includes daily tasks (making the beds, putting away dishes, picking up clutter) and specific items for each day of the week (mopping the floors, dusting).
With your kids home all day, a cleaning schedule will become more important. Your kids will create more of a mess than they do when they are in school. If you do not stay on top of the cleaning, it could impact your focus.
However, do not feel as if you must do all the cleaning yourself. Make your kids and significant other responsible for their share. Do not believe that the cleaning falls 100% on you just because you are home. After all, you are working AND taking care of the kids this summer.
Work at your best time
If you are going to be balancing kids and work this summer, you need to make sure your work time is productive. In my opinion, one of the elements of being productive is to work at the best time for you.
If you are a morning person, get a head start on the work day before the kids get up. If you are a night owl, do a bulk of your work after the kids are in bed. If mid-day is better than morning or evening, then have your core working hours around that time.
Working at your ideal time allows you to be focused when you need to be and still enable you to enjoy summer with your kids.
For me, I work best once the sun starts to set. While I also work during the day, my prime working hours start after the kids go to bed and can last until 2 a.m.
Working at night allows me to spend more daytime hours enjoying my kids.
Many people cringe when they hear about my working hours, but I love working late into the night. I cringe at the thought of waking up early to work.
You might still be able to apply this tip if you work a more 9-5 role.
You will be distracted at some point during the day when your kids are at home, and you will need to make up this time. Find the time that is best for you to complete your requirements. If allowed by your employer or type of business, do not stress about putting in an extra hour of work between 5 and 6 p.m. if 9 to 10 p.m. is more productive.
Make time for yourself, your significant other, or your friends
Your summer is going to be busy. With your kids home with you full-time, you are going to feel like you are always on as a parent. You are going to need a break.
Go for a walk by yourself, go shopping, meet up with a friend for lunch or schedule a date night.
Time away from your kids will do wonders for your mental state. Your boss, your clients, and your children will thank you.
If you cannot get out of the house for a date night, do one at home. Enjoy a glass of wine on the patio after the kids go to bed. It is not as exciting as a night out on the town, but sometimes it is just what you need.
Create a schedule
Before your children’s school year ends, I suggest that you create a daily schedule for the summer. A schedule will help you visually see and control the balance of your time between work and your kids.
If you have a flexible work schedule, you can easily get yourself into trouble if you are not mindful of your day. You might be having so much fun with your kids that you keep telling yourself that you can make up the missed work time tomorrow. The tomorrows keep compounding until you look back and realize that you worked very little over the week.
One week working only a few hours might not put you too far behind, but many will. By creating a schedule before summer begins, you can see how you can properly balance time with your children and your desired or required weekly hours.
On your schedule, plan out the sections that should stay consistent by asking yourself the following questions.
- When will you have family time?
- When is quiet time?
- Will you have help?
- What is your best time to work?
- When will you complete your household chores and parenting responsibilities?
- When will you get out of the house with your kids?
Then, make sure you have enough work time. If you do not, schedule in more time.
I like to leave the rest of the schedule blank. This is the time I can either play with my kids or work if they are playing independently. It is also the time I can run errands.
Time block your work hours
Time blocking is a time management technique where you assign blocks of time to each task that you need to complete. It is the opposite of multitasking as you only focus on one task at a time.
People who follow this technique say that they accomplish more in their day than when they multitask.
Due to working from home with kids, you might find that you are working in small blocks of time versus an eight-hour shift. Time blocking will help you stay focused.
Let’s look at an example:
I have two hours to work. My priority is writing a blog post.
First, I log into Facebook to read through my business notifications. 45 minutes later, I stop scrolling through my newsfeed and I start my post. I write for 30 minutes and then go to Pinterest to grab a link. I get distracted, and the task takes me 15 minutes. Twitter notifications pop up, and I follow them. Twenty minutes later, I am back to my post. I get to write for about 10 minutes and my time is up.
- Blog post – 40 minutes
- Facebook – 45 minutes
- Twitter – 20 minutes
- Pinterest – 15 minutes
Now, let’s look at the same situation with Time blocking.
12:30-12:45 – Facebook – business notifications and pages only
12:45-1 – Twitter
1-2:30 – Write post. Log on to Pinterest to only grab the needed link
- Blog post – 90 minutes straight
- Facebook – 15 minutes
- Twitter – 15 minutes
The first scenario used to happen to me every day. Now, when I sit down to work, I assign the tasks I want to complete during that working session to a specific timeframe. I accomplish more during my working hours, and I am less stressed about my to-do list. This allows me to enjoy more time with my kids.
Enjoy your summer!
I am really looking forward to my kids being home this summer. While it will be busy, it will be great!
Do you have any other tips to help survive working from home with kids over the summer?