Breathing Room and Summer Balance
It’s that time of year again…school’s out this week and the kids will be home full time. My work schedule will look much different for the next three months. I’ve worked at home ever since we’ve had kids, so we all know the drill. I often work early in the morning anyway, but my routine throughout the day is about to change. I have to allow a little extra breathing room.
When my kids were small, the school calendar didn’t make much difference since they were home all the time. Now, though, they’ll be home all day. Even though they’re old enough that they don’t need constant supervision, they still need some guidance. (And I still have to break up the occasional fight!)
So as summertime nears, I’m trying to allow more breathing room for all of us. I have to remind myself to stop and think about several things:
- How much do I need to work? Then make my decisions in light of this rather than letting the work manage me.
- Take breaks. I tend to work ‘til something is done and then play. The problem is that the work is never done, so I have to remind myself that it’s a good thing to step back sometimes. I usually end up more productive after a break anyway. On the other hand, sometimes this may mean I take a (guilt-free) break from the family and go work at a coffee shop for awhile. I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished more without interruptions and can focus fully on the family when I get back.
- Consider each request/invitation/offer. Every yes means something else is a no. Make the yes choices count.
- When I’m with my kids, be fully with them. Put work aside and focus on them so I can enjoy our time together instead of being annoyed that they’re interrupting my work.
- When I’m working, focus. Don’t surf or waste time. I need to be sure and implement my own time management strategy for this.
- Find fun activities to look forward to as a motivation (for both me and the kids). These don’t have to cost anything. We have a local park with springs for the kids to play in. We also enjoy exploring places nearby like state parks, orchards, and libraries.
- Set small to-dos or goals for each “zone” of life. It works better for me when I have groups of weekly goals rather than a strict daily schedule. Then I can work through them as our other activities allow. That helps me be more flexible with things that pop up during the week. If there get to be too many extra zones, maybe I need to evaluate where my time is going. For example, some goals for next week might be:
- Family: Play a game with the kids, plan the next birthday party
- House: Hang dining room curtains
- Work: Finish and turn in project by Thursday
- Business Building: Draft a guest blog, finish webinar notes
- Personal: Run 3 times this week, finish a book
- Other: Buy a wedding gift
- And the most important one:
Summer goes by so quickly, and we only have a limited number of summers with our kids before they grow up and get busy with activities, jobs, college, etc. ENJOY IT. Have the kind of summer that both the kids and I will look back on with good memories. That doesn’t mean I don’t work at all. It does mean that I need to make the most of my time and be deliberate about how I spend it.
How about you, what do you hope to accomplish this summer? How do you allow breathing room to balance work and family when everyone is home all day? Share with us below!
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