“Summer’s presented as a vacation. It’s like a three-month vacation for nobody but children.”
– Jim Gaffigan
Summer “vacation” is upon us and for those of us who are working parents, panic might be setting in. As a full-time working mom myself, this is my very first summer with a school age child that won’t be in school for the next few months and I know all too well the realities of finding babysitters, age-appropriate and budget-friendly camps, and utilizing all the resources to help our family thrive over the next few months. I’m struggling with guilt over not spending more time with my kids while they aren’t in school and also the overwhelm of life’s reality: most parent’s don’t get summer break.
I was chatting with another mom recently. She was discussing all the camps her daughter was signed up for and in the midst of her guilt she realized wait, my daughter is living her best life! She’s going to camps, hanging out with friends, and making all the memories. I wanted to adopt that mindset and also find ways to be intentional with our time to make the best out of every moment possible. The following suggestions are a list of some tools I use on a regular basis and others that I’ll be trying more of this summer.
But let’s start this off with a little honesty. Will we do this perfectly? No. Will we lose our cool? Probably. Will we also have fun? Definitely. Perfection is never the goal! So this summer, let’s give ourselves a whole lot of grace, a lot less guilt, and embrace the beautiful chaos.
9 Work from Home Tips During Summer Vacation
1. Sensory Bins
Sensory Bins have been a life saver for me and my kids. Busy Toddler has some of my favorite ideas for inexpensive DIY options at home. And my 6-year-old loves them too! (Oobleck and Rainbow Rice are our personal favorites.) We keep our Sensory Bins put away and when I have a meeting, or need a break, a pull these bins out and let the magic happen. PRO TIP: I use a Gathre mat to keep the mess in one place. You can always use a sheet or a blanket too or move the bin outside!
Once again, Busy Toddler has been my go to resources for this. Truly, what is it about a bath that centers kids so well!? Yes, I have been known to take my laptop into the bathroom to supervise bath time while I work. I love these ideas for Pom Pom baths, popsicle baths, color baths, and and foam baths. Check out these bath time ideas for a great summer activity any time of day!
3. Visible schedule for whole family
Kids love routine! Giving them predictability has been proven to improve behavior. Knowing what to expect helps you as a parent set (and keep) boundaries and helps your kiddos get excited for what comes next. I have a dry erase board that lives in the play room (which is also my office). We write the schedule and use pictures to help them see what’s coming up for the day. Typically, I try to keep screen time at the same time every day, but in the next point you’ll see I often need a bit of flexibility there.
4. Save screen time for meetings or when you need to concentrate
While I do try to keep to a general routine for screen time, sometimes I need to make an exception when I just need to get stuff done. I am not above my kids watching a movie. Sometimes, life just requires it. But because I notice that my kids turn into wild banshees when they are on screens for too long, I try to strategically save screen time for meetings or when I need to concentrate.
BONUS: Lunii Storyteller I discovered this storyteller a few months ago and my kids LOVE it. You can load as many stories as you can fit through the Lunii store. There’s even “choose-your-own-adventure” style stories on there. You can also purchase headphones to go with it so you get a few minutes of quiet time.
5. Mom Swap
No I’m not suggesting your kids swap moms although I know it’s sometimes tempting to run away from the responsibilities of motherhood. BUT you CAN team together with some other friends to “swap” your kids around on different days so you can get work done AND they can play with friends. Monday at Jessica’s, Tuesday at my house etc…this is a great alternative to babysitting when possible!
6. Plan time with your kids every day
Ever heard of 10 Minute Magic? The idea is pretty simple. Some research suggests that kids don’t necessarily need quantity, they need quality. And if for 10 minutes every day you can sit down (with one kid at a time) and talk with them, read with them, color with them etc…it makes a huge difference to fill their needs for connection! And ultimately, filling their need for connection will help all of you throughout the day as you need to have more independent time.
7. Build one fun activity into the day or week
I get it, there’s a lot of work to be done. But if there’s any flexibility in your schedule, planning a special activity each day or week will check the boxes for summer fun and help your family feel connected throughout the busy summer. This can be as simple as Ice Cream Tuesdays where you eat ice cream in the back yard. Or it could be an hour at the park. No need to over complicate it, just make it fun!
8. Build a moment in for YOU every day
Yes moms and dads, you need to take care of you too! Because if you’re burnt out and running on empty, you have nothing left to give to work, family, or anything else. So, whether that’s waking up 10 minutes early to enjoy your coffee in silence, getting a quick workout in, or listening to an audiobook, make sure to build time into each day for you!
Like Elsa has famously told us, sometimes we need to let it go. Laundry may not get done. Dishes might be piling. You might need to put in a an hour or two of work after the kids go to bed. It’s ok. Don’t be hard on yourself if things don’t seem to be going great. Every day is a new day to try again! And while routines will help, sometimes you need to flex based on your needs and your kids’ needs.
BONUS: Wear the babies!
Babywearing is work from home friendly! If your kiddos are still at the babywearing age, put them in a carrier while you get stuff done! Set your computer up on a higher counter so you can stay standing or move it outside so you can enjoy some sunshine. There’s nothing better than getting to bond and connect with your little ones – so if they are a little extra clingy or just won’t nap and you’ve got emails to answer, baby carriers to the rescue!
If you’re looking for other ideas to keep your kids entertained OR for keeping your cool this summer, here are a few of my favorite accounts.
- Monti Kids – Monti Kids has great resources for raising little Montessori Kids, but more than that, they give you a lot of ideas for independent play and building imagination!
- Big Little Feelings – This account is so great for reminding me of important perspectives and giving really practical tools for guiding our little ones through their big feelings.
- Busy Toddler – I did mention this account above, but here it is again. She has so many great resources for activities in and out of the house that will keep your kids entertained while you need to get stuff done.
- Jerrica Sannes – I discovered Jerrica not too long ago and I really love her perspective on screen time. She’s very realistic that sometimes we need it and so she gives research backed data on how to make it work for your family in a health way!