August 20th is circled on my calendar in red. Why August 20th you ask? It’s the day the kids go back to school. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. Working from home has its challenges with the kids, dogs and other distractions–especially in the summer. I am a big proponent for year round school, 2 weeks off and back to the grind. That would eliminate the endless questions of when are we going to the pool? When are we going here, there and everywhere? It would even eliminate my all time favorite, “Mom, I have nothing to do.” What? You have video games, Wi-Fi, toys, TV, gadgets, library books, DVDs, a great backyard, bikes, skates, pets, trampoline, tons of kids in the neighborhood and you are bored? What is wrong with this picture? We didn’t have half of that stuff when we were kids and we always found stuff to do. Oh no—I am sounding like (gasp) my own mother.
Seriously though, working from home in the summer with kids underfoot, keeping them entertained and yourself sane, is challenging. Here are some of my tricks. Keep them up late. The later the better. Go catch fire flies, build an illegal fire and have s’mores, movies under the stars—whatever it takes. That will likely allow them to sleep in all morning and give you some quality work time. Another trick is to sign them up for as many day camps as you can afford. Typically, this will give you the peace and quiet from 9am to 4 pm. Take a look around and I am sure you will find there is a camp for everyone. And with the economy, there are still tons of openings for those who didn’t sign up in the spring. Overnight camps will allow you a period of 24-7 uninterrupted work time. I also sign up my children for classes and take my laptop and blackberry and work while they are dancing or sculpting. For low cost options, check out your local parks and recreation centers. Ours has day trips like canoeing, horseback riding, amusement parks, day camps and classes at reasonable costs.
So, if day camps, overnight camps and activities are out—surrender. Find a pool with Wi-Fi and a quiet adult only section. The kids can splash, dive and hang out while you get something done. Or, work from 7am until 3 and then take them to the pool.
Set limits for your office. No one under 50” allowed in except the cat and dog. When the door is closed stay away. Don’t knock. Don’t bother me. Don’t breathe.
It helps to be flexible. The best laid plans always go awry. A sense of humor is mandatory. And once in a while, it’s ok to play hooky and just enjoy your children. Summer is fleeting and so are our kids. They grow up so fast. Enjoy them and love them. The rest will work itself out. And, sshhhh—don’t tell my kids but when August 20 does roll around I am actually sad. As much as I complain, I actually miss them when they aren’t around.
Mary Stephan is the President of Allons Travel based in Powell, OH. For more information, you can contact Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org.