WAHM – The Summer Challenge

summer break

School is out for the summer… now what?

For children it can be one of their favorite times of year – summer vacation – but for parents it can mean stress over how to keep the kids busy, safe, and away from the video games 8 hours each day. If you’re a work-at-home mom or in a household where both parents work outside of the home, summer vacation for the kids can be challenging to weave into your workload and family responsibilities.

Summer Vacation and Work-at-Home Moms
How will you get anything done?

I’m used to the kids being around – and I enjoy it. We’ve homeschooled for more than 15 years and a busy household is nothing new to this work-at-home mom, but I still have to transition myself and the kids for summer break. While they get a reprieve from those subjects that just aren’t their favorites, I still have to manage my workload – if not increase it during these summer months.

The kids are out of school and all they want to do is stay up late, swim every day, and run through the house leaving a trail of grass clippings and popsicle juice. Working at home can be challenging for parents during summer break from school, but there are a few strategies than can help everyone enjoy the summer sun (and still make deadlines for work).

Establish a routine. Consider what you and your kids most want to do this summer, then create a work schedule that allows for some of those things to happen. During the summer I take the early mornings to complete my work, as I have teens who like to sleep in and have slower starts to their days. The kids know that my work responsibilities must be met in order for us to go on and have some fun together, so they (usually) respect my need for routine. Hey – they’re kids and they don’t always get the adult-world-reality check.

Give the kids responsibilities. Household chores and yard-work help children build lifelong skills. These activities also help ease your workload around the house and keep the kids busy. Consider a schedule that has the kids doing their chores while you’re in work mode so that everyone has a similar schedule.

Keep your promises. If you tell the kids you will be finished by lunch so you can head to the beach, make sure you follow through with that. Your kids will learn to rely on your word and keep their own promises, but you will also all benefit from a break together.

Consider swapping kids with a friend. If you just need a few hours a week working at home alone, trade days or afternoons with a friend. You’ll both get “quiet time” and the kids will look forward to playing with their friends.

Help your kids find quiet summer hobbies. On those super-hot days when everyone wants to spend the afternoon hanging out in air-conditioning, have the kids try some new hobbies that will keep their hands and brains busy at the kitchen table. Painting, crafting, scrapbooking, sewing, or building model rockets and cars are all great boredom busters and can give you the time you need to catch up on work. I keep a stash in a tote of things I can pull out if I just need a few more minutes to complete a project – anything from dollar store whirly-birds to a fun science experiment kit.

Wear them out. When the kids were younger our summers were spent running like crazy during the morning, hiking, going to the park, and ending at the library with a picnic lunch somewhere. By the time we got home they were ready to either nap or chill out and read their library books. I had a few hours to work, and then we still had time to head outside to enjoy the pool or another fun summer activity.

Summer vacation from school (even for us homeschoolers) can be filled with challenges of negotiating schedules. However, it should still be a time to explore, learn, and have opportunities to engage in fun activities. Even though as a work-at-home mom my workload doesn’t take a summer vacation, I still love evenings by the bonfire, tents in the backyard, and digging my toes in the sand with the kids. On those really good days, I even get a little work done while they splash by my feet. Pretty soon you’ll be a work-at-home woman and the kids will be spending summers at their own summer jobs – enjoy the chaos now.

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