Has your family started a summer countdown? For those of you who know me, I am always excited this time of year. We are inching our way closer to summer holidays and I love that. My son has a countdown in his room and talks about it every day. June is always a busy month at school (mostly with field trips and fun) so they love that, we have Spring sports in the evenings, activities on the weekend and work always is busy in June for both Andy and I.
Ah yes, work. When you are a work-at-home parent, summer holidays look a little differently. During the year, I don’t work full time, I keep my hours low to ensure I have time for school volunteering and random house stuff, but it doesn’t mean that the summer won’t be a balance of deadlines and park visits.
In my case, I am lucky because Andy takes the summer off which means when I have a meeting, I don’t have to arrange child care (although my parents are fantastic to help out.) But it still means I’m trying to get work done so that I can take off on holidays or have some fun with everyone.
Each summer, I have more clients and more hours of work to do as the kids get older. Here are some tips for fellow work-at-home parents who will be balancing kids and work.
1- Start planning now
It’s really not that far away. It’s time to start thinking about how your summer hours are affected. In my case, I also work with a lot of work-at-home parents, so I need to find out what their plans are for the summer too. The planning has already begun. Don’t wait!
In addition, now is the time to start setting expectations for everyone. Chat with clients or partners about what your summer hours look like, update your business website with closures or ‘no ship’ dates if applicable, and get everyone ready for July and August.
2- Determine your child care needs
Do you need to sign the kids up for camp? Which weeks? Will your partner be home at all? Do you have back up people to call when a last minute meeting or request comes up? Look at the entire summer plan.
3- Mark your Calendars
Look at your family and work calendar from June 1 until the beginning of school and start marking dates into both. Yes, that entire time. Make sure that you mark days off from your work calendar when you know you will be away, or the kids have an event. In my case, I’m already blocking dates for June field trips, moving meetings around, pushing some into July when I know child care is easier, and so on.
I also do this with client holidays.
4- Use those calendars to set deadlines
If you are travelling on August 1, you don’t want to leave something until July 31. Set some deadline dates for yourself, and mark them on your calendar. When a client requests something, or a blogging opportunity comes up, you’ll be able to see if you can accommodate it, not only based on your holiday schedule, but also your deadline schedule.
5- Create a plan
If you don’t already use an editorial calendar (or a project plan), now is the time to start. I use excel and mark off ideas, dates, links, client work, deadlines etc. so that each day I can see what’s coming up.
6- Block work time during the day
My best work time is the morning. From about 7-9 I get as much as I can done and the kids know I’m working. The kids are happy to have free time, and by about 9:30 we have plans to head out to a park or play date. When they are in school, I have the lunch hour/early afternoon to get things done, but in the summer I tend to shift this to a later afternoon time because I’m often out or busy. Know when your kids have their best time and work with that too.
7- Some days, it’s not going to be all fun and games
Deadline days may mean that the kids are going to have to step away from any Camp Home agenda for a bit and figure out their own fun (which, for the most part, is highly encouraged anyway, right?) I don’t feel guilty if I have to duck my head at the laptop and get it done one day, especially when we spend the summer doing a lot of fun things together.
8- Don’t miss out
Reduce your hours in the summer if you need to, or shift your work time, but don’t miss out if you want to take the kids to the museum or play a board game on a hot afternoon. Have fun, even in the chaos.
What are your tips for working at home while the kids are around? Share them below!