You know it’s coming. Hot days, long nights and no school. And you start to wonder. Can I survive working from home this summer with the kids around?
I can just tell by the shift of our afternoon conversations. When asked what did you learn today, the response has gone from new learning to “nothing” because we’re finished for this school year. Done.
Followed by a fit full of giggles.
Ahhh… summer vacation is on its way. And the kids couldn’t be more excited.
Unfortunately, the summer can be a very difficult time for a growing creative business when you are also a mom. Time is scarce and childcare is at a premium.
When I was just starting my stationery business, summer holidays used to be one of the most dreadful times of the year. I could handle small breaks throughout the school year, but taking three (sometimes longer) solid months off felt impossible.
At first, I really questioned whether I could survive working from home with the kids around too. It was such a challenge to find adequate childcare that wasn’t overly expensive and balance work and play.
Over the years, I have learned how to balance work and summer vacation. Although the summer months are still my slower growth months since my focus shifts, they have also become the most fun time of the year. A
nd the times when the kids are little during the summer are so short (I think the saying goes that we only have 18 summers of our youth). Here are some tips for to survive working from home this summer with the kids home and still grow your creative business.
Keep Expectations Reasonable
My biggest downfall for summer when I started my business was keeping the same expectations during the summer months that I had for the regular school year. I wouldn’t adjust my project schedule or list of goals. The problem was that the amount of focused time I had to spend on my business dwindled.
Make your expectations meet the time you have. If you cut your hours in half, then keep your business projects list a lot shorter. You will feel a lot more accomplished by the end of the summer instead of overwhelmed by everything you didn’t do.
And remember, create a marketing plan that matches your hours too. Marketing is something that grows your business even over the summer. So, you can’t exactly quit cold turkey. But make a plan for the time that you do have. If you need some ideas about how to market your business within limited hours, check out our FREE First Steps to Marketing class.
Create an Easy to Follow Routine
Routine equals productivity – especially in the summer months. The routine can be flexible, but having an idea of what you would like to do every day will keep your days full and hearts happy.
A routine can be as simple as a theme for the day – library, field trip, park, play date, pool. You can also create a time schedule. Add in blocks of time for independent play and together play.
I find adding independent play right after together play is most productive. The kids can spend a little time exploring on their own because they enjoyed our time together.
Build in Blocks of Time to Spend with the Kids
Whether it is some time every day or taking one day a week off to spend time together, make sure that you include time to spend with the kids each week. Take them to the pool in the afternoon. Plan a trip to the beach.
No matter what you do during this time – unplug. Don’t think about work or business. Your kids will notice and it won’t really be their time. So, switch off your phone alerts and spend some quality time with your kids. This time will make both your summers more memorable.
If you’re having trouble finding ideas for things to do with your kids this summer, create a family bucket list to do together. Brainstorm different activities everyone wants to do. Then, choose one activity to complete each day or week. It keeps fun a bit more organized and makes sure you’re trying new things together.
Check the Neighborhood for Childcare
Living in a city, we always looked at some of the bigger babysitting websites for flexible childcare. We usually came up with really expensive options that wanted full time hours.
Then, one summer a teacher at school offered her daughter’s babysitting services. She was only in middle school, so it was more like a mother’s helper. She had a very flexible part time schedule and was extremely reasonable. Since I was home, she was the perfect person to give me some work breaks and entertain my kids.
If you want a reasonable childcare option this summer, check with your neighbors. They might have a child who is looking to gain experience watching kids or know of someone.
Another idea is to make a babysitting trade arrangement with the other moms in the neighborhood. You can watch their kids one day of the week and they can watch yours another. What a great FREE solution!
Make Summer Business Goals
Although, you already have an annual or quarterly business goal list (at least you should) that you’re working from each week, create a secondary list with the goals you would like to accomplish over the summer months.
I recommend keeping it short (3 or 4), so it is truly a list that you can tackle. Write the goal at the top of the paper and then the tasks needed to get there.
Over the summer, my goals are to complete our Christmas stationery collection and photograph it. I also like to get our holiday blog posts done. I write each of these goals down and what I need to do to accomplish them. Each week, I write down the tasks that I need to do to get closer to accomplishing these goals. By at least getting small things done regularly, my summer feels a whole lot more productive.
See What Others are Doing
The kids having the summers off and mom working from home thing is nothing new – I just feel like no one ever wants to talk about it. Maybe we feel a little guilty or maybe we don’t have time to plan, but it is a real problem.
We recently moved to an area that has very long summers (three plus months). It is a long time to take off of work. Before getting too panicky, check out what every one else is doing. You are not alone in this problem.
I have perused local Facebook parenting and business groups and discovered reasonably priced camps, programs and babysitting options. The township even offers a daily drop off program so moms can have a couple hours to get stuff done. Pay in advance (very reasonably priced) and use as you need it through out the summer.
Start Saving Early
Summer childcare can be very expensive. Even if you plan on spending most of the summer home with the kids, you will still want to have a budget to go do some things. One of the keys to survive working from home is to start saving money for these activities early.
My family usually has a small summer fund we begin adding to at the beginning in September. That way when the camp deposits are due (usually around March or April), we are prepared.
With a solid summer fund, I also don’t feel as much of a pinch financially during the summer. Summer months can be slow and have less time to work. It’s nice knowing that I can cut back on my work and still have a great time.
Involve your Kids
One of the best parts about being a creative business owner and a mom is teaching your kids entrepreneural skills. Running your own small business teaches them skills in marketing, bookkeeping, making and customer service.
Since the beginning, my oldest has been involved in helping me package orders and both my kids think going to the post office regularly is normal. They also know our post people by name. It has been great to see their entrepreneurial skills grow and now they are talking about running their own businesses one day.
Plan a Vacation
You work hard. Think about the mantra “Work hard, Play hard” and plan that vacation time.
Try to find a week when business might be at it’s slowest. Every year, I analyze the summer months and, although it does shift, I think I have a general ideal time to shut down the shop.
Find some place that still has Internet (so you can check in if you want to), but go have a good time. You’ve earned it and your family deserves time with you. Your business can wait.
Summer vacation will be here in a couple of weeks (if not sooner for some). As a creative business mom, prepare now for the busy summer months ahead so you are guaranteed to survive working from home.
If you are planning on entertaining your kids all summer, check out this great (and easy) list of summertime activities sure to keep everyone happy. Most importantly – enjoy this time together. You will find everyone a whole lot more happy – including yourself.
Here’s to a wonderful summer!