If you’re a parent who works or runs a business from home you might still be scrambling to pull together your family’s summer game plan. While sending the kiddos off for a few weeks of camp is an option the reality is summer care and camp can get pricey! And shouldn’t the kids have a slight breather from all that “structure” during the lazy days of summer anyway? As a mom who runs a private practice and online business from home, summer season always gets a little tricky.
The lure of the warm summer sun and barbecue fun is quite tempting, but work-at-home parents know that there’s no “leave time or PTO” to be taken during summer. The show must go on! From every angle summertime presents a fierce juggling act as you try to manage your household, run your business and most importantly ensure that quality time with your darlings isn’t compromised or worse – that they don’t become bored out of their brains with nothing to do for weeks on end!
So how do you juggle the business, family time, the kids’ need for stimulation and fun activities, squeezing in a vacation, and just everyday stuff that needs to get done? If your summers of the past have been hectic, I’m going to share with you my 5 tips for a sane summer this year. Keep reading.
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Reevaluate your idea of a family vacation
When you think of summer, you might think of a grand family excursion to a tropical location or heading cross-country in an RV for weeks of camping and exploring the national parks. But if you’re a household running a business this may simply not be possible or affordable. And that’s okay. So if finances are a factor, get creative and modify the “typical” family vacation to have a vacation that fits your family’s needs and budget. If you have time constraints and can’t get away for an entire week, break up your vacations into shorter staycations so the family gets 2 or 3 mini-vacations instead of one massive trip (which, quite frankly, can be more exhausting than fun sometimes). Instead of flying to the other coast or a foreign land, explore nearby options that are within a few hours drive of your home, or right in your local back yard. If childcare arrangements are a factor, another option is for each parent to take separate vacations to care for and entertain the kids while the other is still able to accomplish their work. This can alleviate the financial pressure and give each parent individual quality time with the kids.
Summer Sanity Tip #1: There’s nothing wrong with foregoing the typical family vacation. The goal should be creating memorable experiences that your family will have for a lifetime. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of time or money on travel. The quality of your time with family is just as important as what you’re doing and where you’re going.
Don’t believe the multi-tasking hype
Are you trying to do it all? At the same time? Look at most corporate job descriptions and you’ll likely find one requirement is “ability to multi-task.” And maybe, just maybe, you’ve carried these expectations over into your home-based business. But when you stop and really take a close look at all the hype around multi-tasking, you’ll be struck to realize that it’s totally. over. rated. It seems like in every nine-to-five position I’ve ever held, multi-tasking was a standard expecation and for a long time I bought into it. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in fast-paced medical and educational settings for two decades, I could multi-task like nobody’s business. But once you come up for air, you’ll see that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. My stance now is that multi-tasking is attempting to do multiple things at once, but not necessarily producing your best work. And if you’re a work-from-home parent doing this chronically may only result in frustration and poor outcomes for you, your business, and your family.
In our technology-addicted society, multi-tasking has become an easy trap. Let’s see if you’re a victim? Do you have your toddler on your lap as you try to finish that one last “thing?” Have you been toggling back and forth between 10 open tabs on your desktop, but still haven’t finished that project you embarked on this morning? When you’re in constant juggling mode you never achieve a full sense of closure. Fortunately, most people recognize now (and research actually shows) how harmful multi-tasking can be for you. This fact is also backed scientifically as our brain has not been designed to focus on multiple things at a time. Any parent trying to create a balance between business and family needs to pay attention to one area at a time to give and get the best out of both.
Summer Sanity Tip #2: Schedule your time and be dedicated towards one task at a time. Business time should strictly be business time and when you take a break for family, don’t let work interfere. Striving to give 100% of your focus to one area at a time will yield better results for you and the entire family this summer.
Get rid of distractions
While laptops and smartphones have liberated us from the confines of a desk and office to run our business, this can also backfire on your productivity big-time. Yes, you can fire up the laptop from anywhere but with technology at your fingertips any time of day or night, you can get majorly distracted too!
With tablet in hand, you might feel tempted to work from the kitchen table, in front of the TV, from the coffee shop, the patio while the kids are playing in the back yard, or even while cooking dinner (yes, I have done that). A change of scenery is great every now and then but make sure you have a dedicated space in your house when you simply need to focus and take care of business. It is important to separate your work from your family to create the right balance. And it goes the other way too.
Summer Sanity Tip #3: Get a room! When you’re in work mode, head to your work area or office. When it’s family time, keep the work-related assignments out of sight. Doing this will keep you away from distractions and allow you to be more present and engaged with family activities.
Make it a family affair
A lot of parents who are self-employed or work from home complain about not having any assistance. There’s no clerical assistant or anyone to just hand something off to, is there? If you don’t have the budget to hire a Virtual Assistant what do you do? Delegate! Enlist the help of the family. If they’re willing to support you, make the most out of it. Use your motherly instincts along with your business skills to set some structure around the business or workload. Most likely, your kids will enjoy earning a few dollars for helping you with small tasks. And this can help teach them a lot of valuable lessons also.
Summer Sanity Tip #4: Talk to your child about getting a summer job with mom or dad. Once agreed, come up with a “job description” for her. You might include things like filing papers, making copies, straightening up the office area, or other age-appropriate tasks. Set her work shift approprite to her developmental level. For example, give her a 30 minute shift and let her be involved in setting her work schedule in time-frames she’ll understand. Make it fun and be sure to set aside time to supervise your little worker. When she has completed her tasks be sure to “compensate” her with something special and maybe even a bonus!
Enlist help from the student body
When you work from your home, you may be tempted to forego child-care if your kids are school-aged and a bit more independent, but doing this may eventually wreak havoc on your concentration and productivity while leaving your kids restless or bored. For your school-aged kids that don’t necessarily require a full-time caregiver, consider hiring a college or high school student to watch and entertain them when needed. If you can’t meet your child’s request to build a lego tower or go out in the back yard for a game of kickball, having a reliable caretaker is a great way to reduce cabin fever while keeping the kidskeep her active and having fun while you’re still able to get your work done.
Summer Sanity Tip #5: Do you know a mature high school or college kid who you could hire as your child’s playmate/caregiver for the summer? Ask around to see if you can find a good fit for your family’s needs.
As a work-at-home parent like you, these are my top five tips on how to run your business from home, have some fun without breaking the bank, and tend to the needs of your family over the summer break without skipping a beat. Implement one or all of these to have the whole family enjoying a wonderful summertime together.