School is out and summer break is officially here at my house! What’s a VA Mom to do with the kids at home now? Our routine goes out the window with summertime, yet my client responsibilities and deadlines haven’t gone away.
- Adjust my work schedule. During school, I dropped off the kids and came home to work for a few hours until it was time to pick them up. Not so anymore! Now I plan to take advantage of the early summer mornings before they’re up, or evenings after they’re in bed. I’ll still work some during the day but not as much. And definitely not without more interruptions.
- Streamline tasks. The last few weeks I’ve been working toward getting more systems in place. I’m trying to make my processes as efficient as possible, both in my own work and in the projects I manage for others.
- Group and focus. I am striving to set aside time for important tasks and not cave to the email or text interruptions while I’m working on those. Some of my work requires high concentration and deep thinking; one small distraction can take me 10 minutes or more to get back on track. I’m turning off my phone alerts while working on these.
- Use lists. This worked for me before, but now it’s super important to be diligent on it. Since we don’t have a set school routine now, I can’t let my work responsibilities fall through the cracks just because it’s summer. I use Todoist to track tasks and deadlines so I don’t forget or miss something. I’m also setting more reminders on my phone calendar.
- Talk to the kids. My kids understand what I do in my work and why. We’ve talked about it a lot. I’m going to sit down with them this week and explain when I need to work this summer, how long, and what to do if they need something. We’ll come up with things they can do (besides electronics!) while I’m working. They often have great ideas.
- Signal when working. I realized this week that if I don’t make it clear when I’m working and can’t be interrupted, I can’t expect the kids to understand and follow that. We’re going to come up with a clear signal so they know this is work time and they shouldn’t interrupt unless it’s really important.
- Schedule ahead. I’m trying to lay out all my upcoming projects, deadlines, and also summer family events on the calendar. This way I’ll know when I’m maxed out or when it’s all right to take on another project. If we’re going to be out of town, I know to work ahead on a particular deadline. This helps avoid last minute surprises, forgotten tasks, or sloppy work.
- Get help. If I feel that I’m really getting behind, I’ve considered having a local teen girl come over to entertain and supervise the kids while I lock myself away for a few hours and work. Trading hours with friends is another option. We are also signing up for local events like a day camp, swim lessons, VBS, and other fun summer activities. I plan to squeeze every bit of work I can out of those alone-time minutes.
- Take breaks. This is important for me since I tend to feel like I have to work until it’s all done. I need to stop and make time for fun. After all, the kids are growing up fast and it won’t be long before they won’t want to do family stuff. They’ll have summer jobs, activities, camps, etc. and be gone before we know it. I want to take advantage of their age now and enjoy the time with them. I want to be intentional about both work and family time.
Are you ready for summer? Whether you have little ones, school age kids, or teens, it’s important to have a plan and be deliberate about your time. My plan isn’t perfect and we’ll have to roll with some things that come along, but at least we have some expectations in place.
What tips have you found helpful for keeping the family-work balance during the summer? What do you plan to try this summer? Share in the comments below!