5 Tips for Working with the Kids at Home this Summer
“Just give me a minute,” I plead with my kids one more time. “Mommy just has to finish this one project.”
If you’re like me and you work from home, you’ve probably said this at least a dozen times. Today. Working from home as a parent is a challenge. And I firmly believe that adding in the military makes it even harder.
As the mom of school-aged children, and a toddler, school breaks make for lots of juggling. And summertime can bring lots of headaches.
But, I’ve learned quite a bit over the past year about how to work without full-time childcare on those school breaks and summer. Since we’re on the fast track to a few months of summer break, I wanted to share those with you:
1. Get up early.
This one is so hard right now! At our last duty station, we were on a much earlier schedule as a family. I got up at 5 and worked for 90 minutes before getting the kids up. I’m going to do this come summer break as well. Get up, get a few hours of work in before the kids wake up, and then take some time off to play. Yes, it may mean I have to go to bed early, but it’ll be worth it.
I have a friend who likes to remind me that there are things I have to do and things I want to do. I have to eat, feed my kids, and complete work on time. I don’t have to clean the house myself, grocery shop, or cook every night. Some days you’re not going to get everything done. And some days you are. Go with it.
I like to run a relatively screen-free house. But, who am I kidding, sometimes I need to take a work call or finish up an assignment, and that means I need to have my kids quiet and entertained. So when I know I have a call coming up, I make sure we spend some extra time together first. We go to the park, run around, play and then we come home and get settled in.
4. Stick to your guns.
Of course, there are the times I have a plan and then something tries to ruin them. I distinctly remember one time I had a sitter come over and watch the kids so I could work out of the house. I told them no electronics that morning, so I could let them watch a movie that afternoon while I met a deadline. They disobeyed. So, I spent that afternoon working to meet a deadline, while answering, “No, you cannot,” each time they asked to play Xbox.
Sometimes things are going to go exactly the way you plan. And sometimes they don’t. Getting work done in five-minute increments while trying to keep your kids from destroying the house isn’t going to lead towards productivity. Know when to stop, spend time as a parent, and know when to get to work. Don’t waste the time you have, time to work or time to be with your kids.
Summer can be filled with fantastic memories. Or it can be 12 weeks of fighting. Only you can decide how it’s going to go. I hope these tips help make your summer run smoothly.
Rebecca Alwine is a freelance writer, army wife, and mother of three. Over the past 10 years, she’s discovered she enjoys coffee, lifting weights, and most of the menial tasks of motherhood. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found hiding behind the sewing machine or with her nose in a book.
Her writing experience includes military family topics, research pieces, guest blogging, and much more. She’s a contributing writer for ARMY Magazine, a regular contributor for several publications including PCSGrades, Military OneClick, and ESME, and has also been published in Ms. Magazine and The Atlantic’s City Lab.