Work-at-home moms face unique challenges when the summer months roll around. How do you keep your kids entertained and happy while still running a business? Here’s advice from seasoned work-at-home moms on what to do.
Summertime presents a challenge each year for home-based working moms around the country. Continuing to run one’s business while keeping the kids entertained is a task too daunting for almost any super mom. Kids need attention. They want to have fun. They want to play, go to the park, have friends over, go swimming, and so on. Meanwhile, clients are calling, the email box is filling up, and those day-to-day tasks are stacking up by the minute.
It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. So what’s a home-based working mom to do? Don’t despair. We have some great tips and advice from real home-based working moms to make your summer less stressful and more enjoyable.
Karen Snyder of Pipersville, Pennsylvania, suggests:
- Have a teen come watch the kids while you work. Since teens are closer in age to the kids, they usually have a blast playing, and you can have some dedicated work time.
- Try to keep a regular “work” schedule, so that the kids know which days are fun days and which days are mom’s workdays.
Eileen Richardson of Del Mar, California, advises:
- Set up various summer programs. The kids can choose which programs they want depending on affordability and location. Try to spread the sessions out evenly throughout the summer. On those weeks, plan the bulk of your work.
- Plan workdays while the kids, depending on their age, arrange to have a friend over. On the other days, plan day trips and don’t count on working. After all, being a mom is the most important job.
Fran Fuerst of Brooklyn, New York, suggests:
- Look for half-day activities such as swim lessons, tennis lessons, or day camps.
- Send your kids on short family vacations to visit family members who would love to spend time with them.
- Start a beach or play club with a friend and share watching the kids while you bring along the laptop.
Dana Sacco of Ashburn, Virginia, says some secret weapons are:
- Try to have everything planned out and let your current customers know if you’re going to be “out of the office” (such as having a play day or going on vacation).
- Get a used laptop to take on vacations or outings.
- Work less during the day and more at night.
- Use an autoresponder to let customers know when you’ll be back in the office.
- Use a cellphone as your business line. But remember to turn it off occasionally when you have other important stuff to do (such as watching your three-year-old squish ants and bring them to you).
Sandra Hood of Newport News, Virginia, offers:
- Sign your kids up for recreational day camp. You can work three or four days on your business, then take one or two days to dedicate quality time to them.
- Look for enrichment programs such as museums and music camps.
- Set goals for your business, family, and yourself. Balance is important. It doesn’t do any good to be working at home if your kids get neglected and vice versa. Set up your activities weekly or daily and prioritize.
Tricia Russell of Pfafftown, North Carolina, suggests:
- Keep a couple of bags of simple crafts handy that the kids can do themselves. The bags should have everything inside they need to do the craft.
- Trade watching kids with a neighbor one or two mornings a week. Then each mom gets one full morning without the kids and it doesn’t cost anything.
- Set aside kid time and work time so that you’re able to focus on the kids when you’re together and focus on work when it’s work time.
Mary Tobin of Wilmington, North Carolina, says:
- Transfer your business line to your cellphone. Work while sitting on the beach with your family.
- Let the business follow you rather than sitting around waiting for calls.
Lesley Spencer Pyle, founder of the National Association of Home-Based Working Moms of Austin, Texas, offers additional tips:
- Attend storytime at the local library and trade weeks with other home-based working moms so that you can spend that time catching up on work
- Organize a babysitting co-op with other work-at-home moms to trade babysitting with.
- Outsource some of your work to other home-based working moms and take time to enjoy your children during the summer.
- Get your kids involved. Allow them to stuff and lick envelopes, open mail, or apply labels. Set up a desk next to yours with their office supplies (crayons, paper, tape, kid scissors, and an old phone).
- Get a used computer for your kids. Learning programs are great fun and they teach them while they play.
- Check out books at the library weekly. Reading or just looking at books helps your children’s mind and imagination grow. Also look for activity and craft books to give your children other things to do with or without your help.
The key is balance and planning. Balance your work and your family by planning dedicated time to each. The reason many moms choose to work at home is for the freedom and flexibility it allows. Use that flexibility to your advantage. Look at it as a way to enjoy each stage and each day with your children. The summer will be over before we know it and those memories will be worth making.
Lesley Spencer Pyle is founder and director of the National Association of Home-Based Working Moms, an association dedicated to helping working moms stay closer to their children. Visit them online at: www.HBWM.com.