Many milspouses enjoy portable careers and we often work from home. For those of us with children who are home this summer, it can be difficult to accomplish everything on our to-do lists.
If your summer is like mine, you’ve already heard:
- “I’m bored!”
- “He hit me!”
- “Can I have friends over?”
- “It’s too hot to play outside!”
- “Can you play with us?”
And I’m on repeat with:
- “Not right now, I’m working.”
- “Please be quiet while I’m on the phone.”
- “But you just ate — how are you hungry again?”
Now couple that with trying to conduct a video interview, a telephone call, or write a cohesive sentence, and you get an idea of what “summa-summa-summertime” looks like as a work-from-home mom with kids. (Will Smith didn’t rap about this version…)
9 Summer Tips
Do you want to maintain a level of professionalism without losing your mind?
- Hire a helper. I love teenage babysitters on base, and because of summer break, they have daytime availability. I have learned the joys of hiring someone while I am in the house working. While I close myself in my room with a drink, my laptop and headphones, a teenager takes my kids outside, plays board games and feeds them lunch. In the few hours of paying a sitter, I engage in money-making activities and turn a profit, all while my kids have fun.
- Swap with friends. If you don’t mind reciprocation, and if your schedule and patience allow, this is a budget-friendly way to score some free time alone. Tradeoffs like “I’ll take yours on Monday for a few hours, if you take mine on Friday for a few hours,” can be a win for everyone.
- Strategize screen time. I don’t like to plop my kids in front of the TV or computer all day (though it has happened, I will admit). I use screen time strategically when I really need it, when it is too hot outside, or when they have earned it by cleaning up toys or doing chores. Sometimes the length of a kid’s movie is exactly the amount of time required to reach your work goals.
- Visit your hometown. If you are able, visit home for the summer and recruit the assistance of grandparents, friends and family. This is especially beneficial during a deployment (which is our current situation and was for last summer as well). Helping hands are always appreciated! And if your spouse is around, communicate your needs and ensure that he/she is doing their part to help around the house and with the kids.
- Establish a special “thing” each day. To alleviate mom guilt and to give them something to look forward to, let them know that you have work to do, but each day you will spend time together with one special activity. For example, we went bowling on base one day, went out to breakfast another, and had a movie night with popcorn another. This kept everyone happy, no one felt neglected, and the kids left me to work in peace (for the most part).
- Look at summer camp options. As I write this, my two are playing with camp counselors and others their age! Double win! Many camps offer both full- and half-day, and some offer a daily or weekly basis. We were amazed at the variety of camps offered — there’s something for every interest.
- Take some time off. As much as you want to hustle as you do when they are in school, the summer looks a bit different. If possible, prioritize what needs to be done and squeeze your work into a few days so that you can rest, recoup and enjoy time with family. The school year will return and you can go full speed ahead when it does.
- Take care of your needs. With extra people in your workspace, make sure that you drink water, eat well, exercise and enjoy time with friends. You may find the summer arrangement to be extra stressful, so a little TLC doesn’t hurt!
- Don’t forget to have some fun! If you take care of yourself and your children understand that although you are working, they are still important to you, then you should have a happy and productive work environment. Don’t forget to step away every once in a while for some pool time, a barbecue, a water gun fight and more — it is summer after all, and quality of life is what it’s all about!
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