Growing up, my summers were packed with swim lessons, backyard tag, and family road trips. They felt carefree and relaxing, completely facilitated by my amazing mom who, at the time, was at home with us full-time.
I want the same summers for my kids – lazy, sunny, barefoot days. But managing to be low-key and ready for whatever the day brings can be tricky as a working mom. A client calls and suddenly the front yard tag game feels like impossible background noise. Swim lessons starting at the same time as a downtown meeting? Yikes. Sitter cancelled? Holy cow.
Check out my five best tips to help ensure that our summers are as fun and seamless as possible:
- Make a plan and stick to it. I carve out my work time starting with “scheduled fun.” It’s amazing how much I get done from my laptop while the kids are in the pool for lessons. We are also fans of week-long themed mini-camps – a few afternoons of art camp or baseball gives mom time to schedule on-site meetings or client visits. A weekly “Mimi Day” with grandma provides one secure day a week to plan on-site client meetings.
- Schedule no-work windows and don’t compromise. One of the biggest mistakes I made early on was to try to maintain the same “on call” system I have during the school year. I learned to schedule work-free windows during my week and share them with clients. Consider blocking a full day and a few afternoons a week to put away your phone and explore the world (or the backyard) with your kids.
- Find a just-starting-out sitter. Look for a young sitter trying to earn street cred as a weekend babysitter and hire him or her to come over and play with the kids while you tuck away in your bedroom for a few hours of work. You are a hallway away if crisis comes but can often get a lot done while the kids are happily engaged.
- Pick up some night shifts. I often work in the evenings but I try to add a little extra post-bedtime work in during the summer or set my alarm for a 5am wake-up to work before the kids rise. It’s worth a few extra yawns to set aside time for outdoor fun during the day.
- Let your kids work with you. Got school-aged kids intrigued by mom’s work? My
kids set up our old laptop at the dining room table and work alongside me some days. I catch up on email while they play school-approved games (we love www.abcya.com and my math-obsessed 8-year-old can’t get enough www.prodigygame.com). Pour some lemonade in a coffee cup and make them into young professionals.
And, if all, else fails, don’t be afraid to turn on a movie and get your work done. No child ever turned out to be a delinquent because they watched Finding Nemo twice a week. MotherBoarders know that we won’t hit it out of the part every day but we can do our best to ensure that our kids and our careers get the attention they need every chance we get.
What are your best working mom summer tips?