Maybe This Summer We Don't Make Ourselves Crazy...
by crystal wilson
So...it’s summer time. The sun is out, BBQs are fired up, and the kids are home from school. I’ve never been the parent who dreads having the kids home for these warm months - I love having them around and being able to take part in their adventures. That being said, this balancing act of being, simultaneously, mom and business owner over the summer months is not something I have any idea how to do well, and something that, every year, sees me constantly switching back and forth between feeling like I’m neglecting my kids or neglecting my work.
But not this year friends. Not. This. Year.
I realized by the end of last summer that the guilt I created for myself was having a far more negative impact on my productivity and parenting than the work or the kids were.
I really hate it when I am my own biggest problem.
Photo by Lonely Planet
Knowing that there are lots of other men and women trying to rock the “work at home / parent at work” gig this summer, I thought I would share my plan of attack for having a (relatively) guilt free, productive and fun summer:
1. Camps and Communities
I am a very strong believer in the old adage “it takes a village to raise a child.” Got a neighbour that likes your kids? Send ‘em over! Grandparents, Aunts, or Uncles in town? Schedule a visit for the kids! A kid-free day or two a week can make a huge difference. I find I double down on productivity when I know I have a finite amount of uninterrupted time.
This year we are also entering the world of day camp! I've got three weeks of day camps lined up for both kids. I'm hopeful that this is a good balance of awesome fun and unscheduled rest/play. I am also hopeful that I will somehow get six weeks of work done in those three weeks. Fingers crossed.
2. Adjust your expectations
You are not going to get 8 hours of work in during your standard working hours. I recommend just letting that thought leave you immediately. Believing that you can do this will leave you feeling like a failure on the regular. Instead, save that dream for September and make a new summer plan that will set you up for success in business and parenting. My kids home summer schedule looks like; Work 6am - 10am 2pm - 4pm 10pm - 12am Mom/Wife/Self care - the rest of the time. Of course this rarely happens to a tee, but it gets close enough to feel successful. If I expected that I would work productively from 9-5 Monday to Friday, I would feel like a failure at work and as a parent all summer. I’m not into that, and my guess is that you aren’t either.
I also chose to take a day off each week to spend with the kids doing fun summer things as well - it means I have to re-jig how much I work the rest of the week, but it also means I know that I am giving them undivided attention and that is really important for those times I have to tell them to stop talking to me so that I can just.get.this.one.thing.done.
3. Get Creative
If you work at home, you already work “outside the box.” Taking a step further out and getting creative with how you get your work done can make a big impact on your productivity and how you feel. Make use of things like summer programming at the library, and coffee shops with kids spaces (The Common is a great one locally!) - they’ve got entertainment for the kids and wifi for you! If you can work offline, head to a park and let the kids play while you sit under a tree or at a picnic table and work. Find other parents in your situation and do a childcare rotation. If your kids are still young enough to think you’re super cool, set them up a workstation that mimics yours that they can use while you are working. Don’t let yourself get stuck by trying to make this time look exactly like the rest of your working year. It’s not going to, so you’d better embrace it and think of creative ways to keep everyone satisfied.
The ability to work from home is an awesome gift, and having your kids home for a few months is too! It’s a great opportunity to teach them about the importance of flexibility, work ethic, keeping commitments, and prioritizing. It’s also one of your best opportunities to make memories with your family and that is not something to be missed.
How do you manage your dual roles in the summer? Do you have more tips and tricks to share? We’d love to hear them.