I am a work-from-home parent and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. However, there is one time of the year that every work-at-home parent is concerned with: summer.
We both want to be the awesome parent spending tons of time with out kids out in the sun, going on many family vacations and adventures, while also needing to get work done. It’s stressful being pulled in two directions, with not even a few solid school hours to be able to buckle down and get stuff done.
Top Tips for Working from Home with Kids
Since my son was very young when I started my business, I had to come up with some creative ways to get things done. Here’s my top ten tips to getting down to business this summer:
1. Set the Rules
Mine are easy: When the office door is shut, it is not to be opened unless the house is engulfed in flames, or there is arterial bleeding. Period. Written requests and notes posted on my door will be responded to at my convenience.
I need a few solid hours a day to get work done, even when school is out. Being interrupted every five seconds because a kid is bored or needs yet another snack just get me frustrated at the kids and the kids frustrated at me.
2. Let the Kids Sleep In
I let my kids sleep in during the summer. I think they need the extra sleep, and I enjoy a few hours during the morning where I can work without feeling like I’m neglecting them.
I’m sure there’s a whole group of parent who think their kids should be up by a certain time, even during the summer, but I’m definitely not one of them.
3. Plan Out the Day
I use activities and outings to wear out my kids and get a good routine going. And, when my kids were old enough, I started sharing this schedule with them.
For example, a day might roughly look like:
- First, get a couple hours of work done while kids are still asleep.
- Second, take a quick break while getting them breakfast and a couple self-entertaining activities out. Work for a couple more hours While they play.
- Third, take a break for lunch and do some sort of activity together. Maybe it’s a walk, a trip to the library, playing together, etc.
- Fourth, after the activity is over and kids are tired again, work for a couple more hours.
- Fifth, dinner and family time. Possibly another fun activity or just casual hang out time together.
By letting my kids know what to expect and by breaking up their day with an activity, they don’t feel like mom is ignoring them all day to work, but I’m still able to get a full day of work in.
4. Laptops are Portable
I have a patio that gets a fair amount of sun, while keeping the shade on my laptop. I use it. Often.
This allows me to supervise my kids while they get to go crazy in the backyard. They get their summer fun, I get my work done. It’s a win-win.
5. Go Mobile
There are many things I can work on with just my laptop and phone. And I do so, often.
I’ve gotten in the habit of taking my laptop with me almost everywhere we go. Watching my daughter at gymnastics practice? Pull out the laptop. Swim practice? Yup. I’ve even been able to extend the length of a family vacation by bringing my laptop with me to get some work done, although not a full day’s work.
I also like to save to responding to quick messages when I’m out and about. I can answer a couple emails or slack’s right from my phone when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store, or to pick up my kids, or at a doctor’s office. If I know I have these types of things coming up, I put off responding to people for a couple hours until I’m in a place where I have nothing better to do but respond to their messages.
6. Smart Multi-Tasking
Being a mom is a lot of work. Working is a lot of work. But a little passive multi-tasking can help you stay almost on top of it all.
What do I mean by passive multi-tasking? I mean taking time to start and switch over laundry so that it’s running through out the work day. I mean taking time to load the dishwasher during the afternoon so that you don’t have a huge pile of dishes waiting for you when you’re off work. I mean whining down counters when I’m on a call.
Doing these things allows me to get some house work and work work done without the other suffering.
7. Automate Whenever Possible
There are so, so, so many tools out there these days that help automate so many work processes. Use them.
Some of them are free, and some of them cost money. However, if you make a strong case to your boss, they may just let you have a couple. Or, if you work for yourself, debate whether the cost will be offset by the time saved.
For example: I use a couple different tools to automate my client scheduling. They let my clients (and those looking to work with me) schedule time with me 24/7, within the parameters I set up. I also use tools to help me automate a lot of my social media posting. I even use a tool that auto sends my email replies in the morning, instead of at 11:00 at night when I’m checking to make sure I’m done everything for the day.
8. Power Weeks
There are weeks where day camps and other summer activities are occupying my little ones. I schedule meetings, book appointments, and try to get a little bit ahead during these times. I get so much done! Having these days filled with extra work allow me a little bit more leniency on weeks where I need to spend extra time with my kids. It’s all about balance.
9. Front-Load Everything You Can
I schedule blog posts, podcast episodes, and anything else which can be scheduled to run without my being there.
In preparation for summer, I try to schedule things as far in advanced as possible to allow myself the ability to take some time off if I need to without feeling like I’m getting behind in work.
10. Get Help
I have a babysitter who will come by and be my “helper” if I really need it. If you need to be available during working hours and you don’t have the flexibility to take a couple hours off during the middle of the day, then having someone help with the kids around the house is probably going to be a must.
I’ve also found, that it can be more affordable to hire someone to help around your house than paying for childcare for all of my children. This probably depends on how many kids you have and where you live, but for me hiring someone to come help me around the house is by far the better option.
She’s seriously a life saver. On the days she’s here, I work away in my office, and she’s taking care of things so I don’t get distracted. She’s in charge until I come up for air. My kids love her and I love her. Sometimes she even does the dishes and laundry for me. I wish I could have her come everyday.
11. Take Some Time Off
Summer shouldn’t be all-consuming work and no play. Schedule some time off to go to the beach, visit the zoo, get some ice cream, make some lemonade, or have a laptop-free picnic. It is summer after all!
In my family, my husband and I both try to take one day off work in the middle of the week to go on a day-trip with our family. We absolutely love it. Taking just one day off for a fun activity every now and then means the world to your kids. Plus, it’s a lot easier to take one day off every couple of weeks that taking a full week off. You can easily skip one day without much stress or worrying about getting behind on work.
Are you a work-from-home parent? What are some of your tips for working when your kids are home? Share with us in the comments below!
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