We’re in week 2 of vacation, and how are you surviving summer? This is my 4th summer at home with my kids, 3rd as a work-from-home mom, and I’ll share a few tricks I’ve learned to keep us all sane and alive for 9 weeks.
Let me start by saying I don’t hate summer vacation. It’s probably a little longer than necessary, but I do really like the time off with my kids. But, because I work from home, having kids in my “office” all day can prove unproductive. Here are a few ways I’ve learned to cope, and still stay on task.
Have a Plan
Every year, I make it part of my job as a blogger and a mom to come up with things to do for kids. Nothing exuberant or flashy, just places to go, things to see, many of them free!
My other prep work consists of gathering up toys, games, and crafts to hide up my sleeve until we really need a distraction. Again, nothing expensive, maybe a board game from the thrift store, or some dollar store canvases to paint. If I’m feeling ahead of the game, I make a list of apps to download when we have a car trip coming up. Check deal sites like Groupon and WagJag for discounts on play ideas as fall backs for rainy days. We scored with saving over 70% off passes to Rockin’ Jump and Little Monkeys. And we have a few days planned to be tourists in my hometown of Toronto thanks to CityPass!
Lower Your Expectations
This is a tough lesson for a lot of folks, mainly me. Your kids are home, they’ll get bored, and you’ll probably have to entertain them at some point throughout the day, or at least make a suggestion or two. My girls are 7 and 9, and we’ve talked about how mom needs time in the morning to do some work, but once lunch hits (about 11:30 for us) I’m all theirs. And in order to find these few hours of time with minimal interruptions, I let them have screen time (gasp!). Screens aren’t evil when used in moderation, and used as a tool, not a crutch. My kids love YouTube channels that show crafts, slime, and baking, and they’re music fans, too. And remember, you’re the adult, you control the apps and channels they visit, so make them good ones!
I have a couple of tween / early teen girls who I enlist to help me with my kids when I need to get some uninterrupted time. The girls are the daughters of my friends, and they know my kids very well, so the play is seamless. Last summer, we had Olivia come over two mornings a week to ‘work’ as a mothers helper, and we’ll do that again this summer. The girls all played together as they normally would, but Olivia was in charge of snacks, entertaining, and supervising the kids. I paid Olivia, and at the end of her morning, the four of us would go out for lunch together, and then I’d drive her home. Lunch is a bonus for me, too, when I don’t have to make it!
Remember, It Still Takes a Village
I have a great group of friends and parents who often invite my kids to come over and play, and of course, we reciprocate. Get a little more official and reach out to your pals if you need relief for a certain day to handle an appointment or meet a deadline. And let’s not forget the gold-mine that grandparents, aunts, and uncles are! They always want some time (or a sleepover!) with your kids, so pick up that phone and make their day, and your own!
On our Facebook page, I shared a story of “Yes Day”. We do this every summer. It can be as big or as intimate as you’d like. My girls get a full day to plan everything: where do go, what we do, what we eat, the whole shebang! I know that sounds daunting, but it’s not. Last summer, my then 8-year-old choose a beach day, with a friend added on, a pizza picnic, and some ice cream to wash it down. All in, about $20. The only rule I have is that their sister needs to be included, but it’s never been an issue.