Summer, Kids and Working from Home

Posted on Posted in Strategy

If you have kids, you’re counting down the days until summer break. The kids themselves are undoubtedly excited about sleeping late and keeping their own schedules for the next couple of months. You, on the other hand, may feel more ambivalent.

Even for parents, summer vacation can be a nice respite from getting kids to school, attending school events and wrangling homework, but it can also bring added complexity if you work from home. Gone, at least temporarily, are the quiet days that allowed you to focus solely on your paying gig for six hours at a time. Here are a few coping mechanisms that might help:

Be Clear About Expectations.

Talk to your kids about your work hours. Even if you can actually do your work “whenever,” define clear times when they need to leave you alone to focus on work so that you can be truly present with them later. Let them know they can interrupt you if there is an emergency (You have to define what constitutes “emergency.”), but otherwise, they should pretend you’re not there. Not only will this allow you to get work done efficiently, but it will also encourage your children to solve problems on their own. It’s a win-win.

Make Them a List.

A dog trainer once told me, “If you don’t give a dog a job, they’ll become self-employed.” Not to compare kids to dogs (let’s be honest; there are a lot of parallels) but the same rule applies. If you’re worried what they’re getting into while your office door is closed, give them a list of tasks. It can be a chore list or more educational things like “Read for 30 minutes” or “Make up a game and teach it to your sister.”

Get Child Care.

If your kiddos are young, you’re going to need someone else to watch them, but even if they’re elementary school age, it might not be a bad idea, even if it’s just once a week. Hire the teenager down the road to entertain them while you crank out phone calls or reply to emails, or avail yourself of the myriad of summer camp options to get yourself some hyper-focused hours. Sometimes even inviting one of your children’s friends (the right friend) over can give you some space to work while they play.

Let it Go a Little.

This is probably the advice that made the most difference to me when working from home with the kids underfoot. Just acknowledging you’re not going to get quite as much done or be as efficient as always, and being okay with that for just the couple months, can make all the difference. You’ve heard it before; it’s trite because it’s true: they’re only young once.