More and more parents have made the change from working outside of the home to doing business inside the walls of their personal abodes. For so many, the change to a virtual workspace has been a breath of fresh air! Sweatpants, no commute, and lots of face time with family. Working from home is a pretty great gig for the most part. Summertime poses unique challenges for telecommuting parents, and knowing how to navigate these months is the difference between a successful summer and one that breaks parents.
Working From Home Is Full of Pros and Cons
Working remotely is nothing new, and many people have always chosen this route to make a living. For many men and women, though, this new way of life has thrown serious curveballs into their daily routines, parenting methods, and work productivity. Working from home probably started out wonderfully, with more pros than cons, but as time marches on, many parents discover that working from home is a heck of an adjustment.
Con: Lack of Childcare
Parents of school-aged kids are able to drop the darlings off when school doors open and head back home to begin their workday. After-school daycare activities and sports (for older children) are often widely available to working parents. When summer hits, the rug can feel like it was pulled out from under you. The kids are home, they are bored, and you need an extra pair of hands before your home starts looking a little like Lord of the Flies. Parents often have to look for childcare options in the summertime to fit their family's needs. Some places to look include:
- Traditional care programs in your community are a good options.
- Mother's helpers, which are younger babysitters, can play with your children while you work close by/
- Babysitters or nannies can come into your home and take over the domestic duties, including driving kids back and forth to activities.
- Family or grandparents can help a few days a week...ask grandma to come and lend her amazing parenting skills your way.
It is important for parents who work from home to know that having babysitters in the home while you are there can be challenging at first. You may find that you want to jump in and help when the kids start acting up or crying. For working parents, the art of lining up good summer help also starts very early on. Start looking for quality care months before the warm weather hits.
Con: Entertainment Fatigue
In the initial months of juggling working from home and kids, every craft, project, reward chart, and prayer came out in full force. Working parents dug deep into their arsenal of tactics so that kids kept quiet and busy during work calls and parents stayed productive and employed. By summertime, the arsenal is pretty depleted, and the timing could not be worse. Everyone is home and wanting to be entertained, and you are working. This is where you will start to miss office life.
Not All Jobs Were Meant to Be Remote
Before the universe went heavily virtual, occupations were designed to be face-to-face or remote. When it was decided that so many jobs could and should be performed from home, former face-to-face positions had to find space in the virtual realm. For people like doctors, therapists and teachers, this posed a stressful challenge to the working world they had always known. Parents who normally ran meetings in high-powered companies all day long had to find corners of their homes to hide in so that they could conduct business in peace. Talk about fitting square pegs into round holes.
Not All Bad News
Working from home in the summertime isn't all bad news. There are so many pros to being able to earn a living from your couch. While you are likely spending at least eight hours a day on the computer, you are able to take breaks and connect with your children. You can let your pets in and out of the house, run a load of laundry or dishes in between meetings, and take your work apparel down a notch. If the kids are sick, you may not even have to miss a day of work, so long as you can juggle work priorities with demands for movies, tissue and chicken noodle soup.
Summer Is Coming...and Parents Are Working From Home With Kids
Game of Thrones has nothing on parents. Whitewalkers are child's play compared to bored children who are home for one hundred long summer days. THAT is truly scary. If parents are going to survive, retaining their sanity and their employment, they are going to need some serious advice as to how to work from home with kids through the summer months.
Let Some Things Go
In the wise words of everyone's favorite Disney princess, "let it go." You are stuck in the office for eight hours, and the kids aren't going anywhere. Know that you will have to let a few things go. The dishes may not get done until 4 p.m., the laundry is going to pile up, and everyone is going to be looking a bit more disheveled than normal. It's okay. You are alive; they are alive, and these summer months are all about survival. Rigid routines have a place in the world, but it ain't here folks! Find a way to flex, even if it goes against every fiber of your being.
Build One Fun Activity Into the Day or Week
If you can, try to schedule one fun summer activity into your week. It could be as simple as taking a lunch hour and heading to the park on a Wednesday or doing a craft on Fridays after your workday is done. If you are swamped, think smaller. Pass out popsicles on the back deck while you answer emails, order in takeout on Thursday evenings, allowing kids to take turns choosing the restaurant, or let them play in your makeup occasionally. These ideas are all easy things that kids think are great but don't require your constant, undivided attention.
Buy All the Snacks
Not buy "some" snacks; buy ALLLLLL of the snacks. Go to Sam's Club and Costco and pull a Supermarket Sweep style mission, loading up on goldfish crackers, cheese sticks, fruit strips, and whatever else does the trick for your brood. You are busy, way too busy to run out of snacks by Tuesday evening. The last thing you need to squeeze into your summer workweek is another trip, with kids in tow, to the grocery store. Nope. Not doing it. No one is surviving summertime without snacks.
Pod Up and Share the Joy
Join forces with another family who also has a work-from-home parent and children of similar age, and join forces. Maybe some days, you and the kids head to her house, where you both work virtually while the kids run amok, destroying everything in their path. Other days the chaos train rolls over to your home because fair is fair. Take turns with your breaks, sharing the feeding and childcare duties throughout the day. It won't feel as stressful when there is a dad or mom friend nearby who gets how crazy these summer days are.
Find an Outdoor Camp...or Ten
The summer months allow for so many fun, outdoor activities. Search your community for a few half-day or whole-day camps that might pique your kids' interest. The kids will enjoy their days in the sun, and you will enjoy the sweet sounds of silence.
Start Your Day Later
This probably won't work for very young children and won't apply to teenage trolls who tend to roll out of bed around noon, but for school-aged kids, think about mandating a "no-go" zone until 8:30 a.m. Put a clock in their room, set the alarm for 8:30, and make it very clear that even if they wake up early, all activities remain behind their bedroom door. They can play with toys, read, use devices, whatever you decide is an acceptable morning activity. Once 8:30 hits, they are free to head downstairs for breakfast.
Now, you get an alarm too! Wake up hours before the kids' breakfast bell goes off and get a workout in, answer emails, start projects or do whatever your workday requires of you. By the time they come down the stairs, you will already feel accomplished, and hence, less stressed at what you still have to face in your workday.
Make Fridays Movie and PJ Days
Fridays signify that the weekend is near. You are in the homestretch. Make Fridays fun for the kids and hold Fun Fridays. Each Friday afternoon is a time for pajamas, a movie, and popcorn. This will buy you roughly two hours to finish up your work week strong. Don't feel bad about the screen time or lack of actual clothes. You can slack off in the summer, plus, you all earned this treat.
Things to Remember When the Going Gets Rough
During summer break, you will have good days and bad days, and then you will have really, really bad days. Computers will crash, Wi-Fi will get spotty, kids will fight, meetings will run long, and you will find yourself convinced that none of this is sustainable or possible.
But it is.
Try to remember that working from home over summer break will not last forever. It will be over before you know it, the kids will be back at school, and you will miss them! On those no good, very bad days, just put one foot in front of the other. Make time for yourself. Hop in the shower, take some deep breaths, sit on the porch for five minutes, phone a trusted friend and vent, or do whatever quick fix you need to carry on. Acknowledge that what you are trying to tackle is hard. There is nothing easy about juggling kids, work, and summer. Even if you think that you are doing the most "meh" job in the world, you are probably doing better than you think, from your children's perspective.
Give yourself some grace. You are amazing.