Working from home is the Holy Grail for any parent looking to create a marriage between their professional and familial aspirations. It truly is the best of two worlds, until, well, it isn’t. For most work-from-home parents, we live for the routine and drive of the school year.
We thrive on it.
As soon as my kids are out the door, I brew a cup of coffee and immediately head to my office. I might or might not have showered and I am most definitely wearing elastic pants. Cue the start of my 7 hours in professional heaven as I plow through my work day.
Like many parents of school-age children, once May rolls around, I begin to lose my ardor for the school routine and I become a shell of my former I-am-work-at-home-parent-see-me-do-it-all.
I’m just done.
“What reading log?”
“Can’t you just eat lunch at school?”
“It’s OK, just take it out of the hamper and spray some Febreeze on it.”
And seriously, what kind of evil genius assigns projects the last 2 weeks of school?
I eventually start having summer vacation induced delusions of grandeur complete with singing hills, visions of my children clad in sundresses made from curtains and itineraries for group outings in quaint European villages.
And then summer hits. We make it about 7 days and I typically have 99 problems and Maria von Trapp ain’t one.
11 Pro Tips for Surviving Summer Vacation as a Work-From-Home Parent
Work-From-Home Summer Survival Tip 1: Make Lunches Ahead of Time
You never know when hunger will strike, but chances are it will be often and when you’re in the middle of really focusing on something vital for work.
The best offense is a good defense especially when it comes to the endless demands for meals.
For younger kids, you may want to consider making lunches ahead of time as if they were going to school. For older kids, keep easy-to-assemble lunch ingredients (that generate minimal mess) on hand. Oh, and do yourself a favor and teach them how to load the dishwasher. You’re welcome.
Work-From-Home Summer Survival Tip 2: Make Parent-Approved Snacks Easily Accessible
Nothing makes me go full Krakatoa like the endless requests for snacks throughout the day. Save yourself a few “nos” and 3,000 “you just ates” by keeping pre-approved healthy snacks on hand and accessible throughout the day.
In our house that means fruits as far as the eye can see with a few bags of mixed nuts or trail mix thrown in for good measure.
Work-From-Home Summer Survival Tip 3: Incorporate Quiet Time
- Easy crafts that don’t involve glue, scissors, glitter or paint
- LEGOs and blocks
- Nap time (a personal favorite)
Work-From-Home Summer Survival Tip 4: Encourage Independent Play
Repeat after me:
“I am not your cruise director.”
“You have a room full of toys.”
“Go outside and play.”
“That’s why I made you a sibling.”
“Find something to do or I will find you something to do…and it will involve cleaning.”
Work-From-Home Summer Survival Tip 5: Accept the Fact that Screen Time Will Not Kill Your Children
Imagine with me for a moment…it’s raining. You have a deadline. Your kids are staring at you like you
1) control the weather
2) are the wizard of shit to do
3) single-handedly ruined summer with your job that pays for all the things
4) all of the above.
This is a job for Captain Kindle and the Netflix Ninja! In a pinch, there ain’t nothin’ wrong with a few hours of television. Just think, after you knock out all of your work, you’ll be relaxed, they’ll have had fun and you can all spend time hanging out just like summer vacation intended.
Work-From-Home Summer Survival Tip 6: Arrange a Half-Day Kid Swap
Whether you’re a work-at-home parent or a stay-at-home parent, everybody needs a break. You might be assembling a death by PowerPoint and your friend needs 30 minutes to get the damn grocery shopping done. I think you can both agree that there’s one thing that will make life a million times easier: not having your kids around.
Find a fellow parent and create a kidswap. You take all kids in the morning, they take all kids in the afternoon. Mischief managed.
Work-From-Home Summer Survival Tip 7: Chunk Up Your Work Day
With older children, chunking up your work day in a predictable pattern can make for a happier you and much happier kids. Set aside a chunk of working hours in the morning followed by quality summer fun in the afternoon and wrap up the evening with a few more hours before bed. It might not work every day, but it definitely creates boundaries and combines the best of both worlds.
Work-From-Home Summer Survival Tip 8: Flip Your Work Day
If you don’t mind burning the midnight oil, try flipping the bulk of your work day from a day shift to a night shift. Reserve the day for business calls and meetings and use the evening for ongoing projects and tasks.
Work-From-Home Summer Survival Tip 9: Hire Part-Time Help
When my children were younger, I definitely needed an extra set of hands to make work work, keep my sanity in check and minimize my working-parent guilt.
One of the best things I ever did was to hire a teenage babysitter to come in for a few hours each day to get me through the morning up until nap time. While I worked, she played with my girls, took them on a walk to the park and fed them lunch. I put them down for a nap and scored another hour or two of work before breaking for the day.
Work-From-Home Summer Survival Tip 10: Day Camps Can Be a Sanity Saver for Everyone
When all else fails and you really need some dedicated daytime work hours, don’t knock the Day Camp. There are plenty of options at all price points available all summer long. Check your installation’s Youth Center, local YMCAs, dance/gymnastics/martial arts studios, zoos and museums for summer programs for your child(ren).
Work-From-Home Summer Survival Tip 11: Be Kind to Yourself
Be kind to yourself. You will survive this summer. Your kids will have fun. You will have fun. Boundaries are important. Balance and blending are important. Your kids are important. And YOU are important.