I wish school would go year-round — then summer would be easier to handle. Alas, the kids have almost three months off, and it means finding a way to balance fun and relaxation with working. Parents everywhere face the summer dilemma every year, so try these tips from fellow web workers with kids.
Stay with other family. The first week is going well as my younger two kids take turns visiting Grandma who lives an hour away. Having one kid at home and one at Grandma’s takes away any chances of them fighting. One gets all of Grandma’s attention and the other enjoys a calmer mom who doesn’t have to play referee.
Enroll in camps and activities. Many parents, like Mary Shaw, enroll their kids in day and sleep-away camps. Some of those with babies and toddlers keep their children in daycare, just like during the school year.
Hang with kids while staying connected. Daniel Schutzsmith, director of client happiness with Core Industries, sets a schedule for working. He relies on mobile communications so he can take his kids to the park, the mall or for a stroll. “I’ve realized that it is OK to work from home, and every client I have talked with appreciates it that I’m a father, a husband and a web worker,” says Schutzsmith.
Send the kids outside. Rachell Coe of 4 the Grapes not only deals with kids at home, but also all the neighborhood kids come to her place daily. She only lets the other kids come over at a scheduled time. However, they must go straight to the backyard and play there. It distracts her when kids constantly open and close the front door, so her kids go in and out their bedroom windows in her one-story home. For those with two-story homes, maybe making them use the back door will be less distracting for you.
Take your office outdoors. Who says only the kids should enjoy the fresh air? While kids play around, you can catch up on work. “Just be sure to set up somewhere shady and far enough away from water and dirt to keep your equipment running smoothly,” says Linsey Knerl, Wise Bread senior writer. Also, see the tips in Mike’s post, “How to Use Your Laptop Outside“.
Make a deal with other parents. Unfortunately, many parents are home because they’re out of jobs. Melanie M. Jocson, president of Virtual Partners Group, has out-of-work neighbors with a pool. She plans to work out something with them. Also, parents can take turns having play dates.
Cut work hours. A popular option is to have shorter hours or work fewer days a week. A lucky few can take the entire summer off.
Encourage kids to work off energy. Plenty spend too much time playing video games or fighting with siblings. Pick an earlier time of day to let them go run, ride a bike, and burn up some energy to prevent them from getting too rowdy indoors.
Hire older kids to help. Jennifer Fink has to keep her kids occupied year-round because she homeschools them while freelancing from home. “Consider hiring a preteen to come play with your younger kids while you work; you’re in the house, so you’re available for emergencies, but he or she can keep the kids occupied. Alternately, consider hiring a high school or college kid for a couple hours a week,” says Fink.
Work during quiet times. “Don’t be overly concerned with getting everyone up and at ’em exactly the same time each day. Let lazy sleepers sleep, early risers rise and try to get the majority of your work done while it is still quiet and everyone is most rested,” says Knerl.
Let them work in the office. Even during the school year, my youngest often joins me in my office at a little desk or on the floor. He colors or writes in his workbook. I love having him near me. When he interrupts too often in needing help with worksheets, I either switch to easier work tasks or ask him to do something else that doesn’t require my help.
I consider myself lucky during times like this. When the kids get too noisy, I can turn off my hearing aids for instant quiet!
How do you survive summer with kids when you work at home?