Whether you are starting your business from scratch, working from home as a freelancer, or have a traditional, full-time job outside the home, there is one thing we all have in common – when the kids are home from school for the summer, we suddenly have much more on our plate to manage.
I have a dear friend who is an Executive Director of Meetings and Events for a national organization and she is one of the hardest working people I know. Not one of the hardest working moms – one of the hardest working people. We often comment to each other that we don’t know how the other one does it. And we always say it with love and affection.
Because while I can’t imagine juggling all we have to juggle as working moms from an office every day, she can’t imagine having to shift her focus between work and kids all day, every day, like I do since I work from home. But when it comes to summer, we are both in the same boat. We suddenly have twice as many people and seemingly an exponential number of activities to manage every day — while still getting our jobs done. And we each have our own way of doing it.
I will preface this by saying this much: We are both at the age where our children are old enough to stay home alone and believe me – that makes a world of difference. Gone are the days of finding back-up daycare or a shared nanny for the summer. Our oldest children are teenagers now (thank goodness and Lord help me), so even if our younger kids aren’t quite old enough to stay home for longer stretches of time, we do have coverage with built-in babysitters.
That said, we both commented last night that we should count the ridiculous number of texts that have already happened between all four parents in our families about who is taking which kids where for early morning swim practice, late morning swim practice, baseball, dance, and evening swim practice. It’s mind-boggling, the amount of coordination that has to happen for two neighboring families with a total of four children while there is an overlap in spring activities ending and summer activities beginning. And that doesn’t even include the social activities that happen in between sports.
Now, I’ve seen the cutesy Pinterest lists for parents to use this summer, in hopes that their kids will get things accomplished before complaining that they are bored or begging to be taken somewhere to meet up with friends. And they are, indeed, super cute. But I am no Pinterest mom.
And I think we can make it even easier.
Here are my three easy steps to getting your work done while your kids are home for the summer:
1. Make a list
By list, I mean one for your kids — not for you. And I don’t mean one of those beautiful, Pinterest-worthy ones that include reading an entire summer reading book for school, cleaning the house, and mowing a neighbor’s lawn every day before they get to do anything else. I mean a nice, simple summer To Do List that any parent can stand behind, even though all children in the house will still grumble and moan about it.
Perhaps one day, you include making their bed, reading a chapter of a book, and taking the dog for a walk. But the next day, it’s empty the dishwasher, do 15 minutes on a math app, and take a shower. (My kids are on summer swim team, so showers become less than a daily habit — and I’m okay with that.)
The secret is to keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm them – and don’t overwhelm yourself with all there is to do every day. Just pick a few things. Also, save the really horrible chores – scooping dog poop and cleaning toilets — for when they are acting especially whiny and bored.
2. Declare this their Summer of Self-Sufficiency!
Again, because my children are 10 and 15, this might work better for me than families with younger children, but maybe not! I swear on my life that if my 10-year-old son can watch a YouTube video while playing a video game and talking to his friends who are also playing the same video game, then he can most certainly make his own peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Even if he “can’t spread the peanut butter as smoothly” as I do. Welcome to the real world, son. Some people are going to spread the peanut butter more smoothly than others. And that’s okay! It’s time to do it yourself. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even come to the realization that crusts don’t taste that bad after all! Or at least not bad enough to have to cut them off every time.
3. If you work from home, get a door with a lock on it.
This was my situation a few summers ago. I had a desk and a workspace that I loved, but it was in an open area of the house. I loved it when everyone else was at school and work all day during the week. But when they all came home – it didn’t work at all.
So I bought an emergency desk. Assembled it myself while they were all gone one evening, and put it in the bay window of my bedroom, overlooking the mountains.
My bedroom with a door.
And a lock.
A lock that works like a charm.