Work at Home Mom Help: How to Survive (and Thrive) During the Summer When Your Kids are Home

The term summer break carries thoughts of trips to the beach, camping trips, and late nights playing outside.

Summer can be a fun time for the whole family, but unfortunately, while school stops for the kids, the work doesn’t stop for Mom.

Getting stuff done and being productive while kids are home is one of the biggest struggles that work at home moms face.

While many of us have actually been dealing with this for a while now given the majority of stay-at-home orders, there is still an order and cadence to the school day (even if that’s school at home) that helps keeps things chugging along smoothly.

As a homeschooling mom, I know this all too well. While I find it somewhat easier to get things done during the summer since I’m no longer spending hours on schoolwork, things get difficult in a different kind of way. Without structure and schoolwork to do, kids get bored very easily. Plus, it can be just plain hard to be productive when the weather is beautiful and the sunshine is beckoning.

As a work at home mom, you want to find that middle ground. Here are some things I’ve done in the past and am implementing again this summer to maintain the peace, relaxation, and fun of the season while maintaining productivity with my work.

Create a Schedule for the Kids…

I know the allure of summer is that you can chuck the busy school year schedule out the window, but I find it helpful to still have a routine to the days when we’re at home with no other plans.

I’ve created a spreadsheet for my kids that lists certain things I want them to do each day. Every day during the week they’re required to do things like morning chores, read, play outside, and play a game.

I also ask that they do something educational for half an hour, and they have fun worksheets and activity books for this purpose.

The kids still have plenty of free time during the day, but this simple checklist helps them focus on things to do. My kids are actually really motivated by checklists like this. If they check all their boxes for a week, they get ice cream on Friday afternoon.

Don’t underestimate the power of a reward system to maintain peace and structure in your working life!

…And for Yourself

The kids aren’t the only ones who need a schedule.

I also make it a point to wake up by a certain hour and have a designated work time during the day. I have a toddler, but the rest of my kids are old enough to occupy themselves for long chunks of time, so I’ve scheduled several hours in the afternoon as my work time while my son naps.

The kids know I’m not to be bothered during those hours unless it’s an emergency.

My husband works evenings and nights, which means he’s home for a good portion of the day. This also works out well for us because I’m able to schedule some of my working hours while he’s home to help.

It’s very important that I communicate with him though, and actually write in my schedule the hours when I’ll work. Once it’s on paper, it’s much easier to commit to getting it done.

End at a Certain Time

When your kids are home, it’s really important that you end work at a certain time (preferably the same time every day), so they know that there is a time that you can end work and just be mom. Your kids will be less likely to bother you with insignificant stuff if they know that you’ll be available at a certain time.

It’s crucial (and easier said than done) that you honor your commitment here. If your kids know that you’re clocking off work at 4 pm, don’t continue to check emails or answer phone calls after that time.

Set Clear Expectations

If you’re a busy working mama, you won’t be able to drop everything to take your kids to the pool at the drop of a hat.

Make clear expectations about what you need from your family in terms of uninterrupted work time, but also be ready to make concessions. If you can, try and adjust to a four-day work week instead of five days.

On that extra off day, plan on doing something fun with the family, like going to a park or heading to the beach.

Take Advantage of Outside Activities

There are usually a lot of fun extracurricular activities happening in the summer, and it can be beneficial to everyone if you sign your children up for a few.

While I don’t know what this year will look like, we’ve done things like soccer camp and Vacation Bible School in the past. Letting your kids do something they enjoy helps them create fun summer memories, and it gives you a chance to get work done in relative peace.

Related: 25 Screen-Free Kids Activities and Gift Guide

Organize a Kid Swap

Have a friend with kids who could also use a little time to herself? Arrange a regular kid swap to give each other a break.

I do this with a friend of mine and I don’t know how I ever got on without it. Once a month I take her kids for a few hours, and the next month she takes mine.

Because our kids are about the same age, it’s really not a burden to watch her children for a few hours, but the payoff in having a quiet house to myself is priceless. This kind of arrangement can be a real life-saver for getting a few extra hours to get work done.

Hire a Mother’s Helper

The summer is a great time to employ a mother’s helper who can keep little ones entertained while you’re home working.

This is a really good opportunity for tweens and young teens who aren’t quite ready for full-fledged babysitting responsibilities to earn some extra cash while they get experience. Kids in this age group are too young for regular summer jobs, and most would jump at the chance to earn a little extra money.

Go on Vacation

Summer is all about making family memories, so don’t let work get in the way of that opportunity. It’s helpful and healthy for everyone if you’re able to take a week off for a vacation.

This allows you to feel like you really get a break from your work, and it’s always nice for family together time. You don’t even need to get away to get the benefits of this.

Staycations are becoming a very popular alternative to a summer trip, and they offer many of the same benefits without the sticker shock. Tuck that laptop away for a week and spend the time with your family enjoying fun destinations in your home area.

Remember the Benefits

While there are certainly challenges with working from home while your kids are home during the summer, it’s so much better than heading into an office all day.

If you’re having a rough time, remember how nice it is to be with your children as they have this break from school. You aren’t wasting precious time commuting back and forth, and you can take a break and relax with your family whenever you need to.

Working from home certainly has its challenges, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. For more great work from home tips, check out these articles:

Want to find ways you can work from home? Sign up below for my free guide, 100 Work Ways to Make Money From Home.

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