Working from home can be a challenge, and working from home when kids are out of school can be very overwhelming. Trying to juggle work and parenting at the same time may seem impossible, but it’s doable and can even be rewarding if you have the right game plan.
When I decided to work from home, I wanted to be sure my family would not be negatively affected by my work. It has taken some trial and error, but we have come up with some good solutions for me working with the kids at home. We have made some minor changes over the years as the kids have grown. Admittedly, every family dynamic is different, and your situation is likely not exactly the same as mine. However, the strategies I use with my family can be effective within any family.
- Make a specific schedule for you and your kids. I know some people say summer shouldn’t have a schedule, but working from home is nearly impossible without a set schedule. You might find it’s easier to do some work before the kids get up in the morning or in the evening after they go to bed. Setting a schedule will allow your kids to know what to expect and when you are available to spend time with them. The schedule for my kids includes yard work, music practice, house chores, and academic work in the morning. The afternoons are free for them to play, read, or swim. I allow an hour of screen time in the afternoon.
- Give your kids responsibilities. People have assumed I must have plenty of time to do housework because I work from home. The reality is when I am working effectively and spending time with my kids, there is little time left for housework. Giving kids responsibilities around the house helps them learn to work and provides them with a sense of accomplishment. Responsibilities can include washing dishes, tidying, dusting and vacuuming for younger children. My 9-year-old even helps doing laundry and making meals. The entire family benefits when everyone pitches in.
- Provide supplies and a variety of activities. If your kids are anything like mine, they tend to get bored easily. Making sure we have plenty of art supplies, snacks, outdoor activities (sidewalk chalk, slip and slide, bubbles, bikes, balls, etc.) and library books helps keep kids entertained.
- Enlist help if needed. If you have young children, hiring a nanny or babysitter will help keep your children supervised while you get work done. Even a few hours a day can be a big help. If you have relatives nearby or older children, perhaps they can help with some childcare.
- Check out local summer programs. Kids enjoy summer camps, swim lessons, library storytime and other activities in the community. If getting your kids to and from these activities is too difficult to fit into your schedule, consider hiring someone to drive them. You might even pack up your laptop and work poolside or at the library while your kids enjoy their activity.
- Make time for fun. Who says kids are the only ones who can have fun in the summer? Make time in your schedule to have fun with your kids. It could be as big as planning a trip to a national park or as simple as using an action camera to record your child’s latest trick shot.
It is possible to work from home while your kids are out of school. Using these tips will make it easier to keep your kids occupied while you work without putting them in front of an electronic device. Making a plan and sticking to it will make you more productive and will make you and your family happier.
Susan is a mother of 4 children and has worked from home for nearly 20 years as a professional writer and editor. She is the owner of the website Mommy High Five, which is dedicated to making life simpler and supporting moms of all types.