Working From Home in the Summer

Although the majority of individuals still head out to work every morning, returning after a full day, there are some of us who call our home our office as well.  During the school year, we get our six or so hours of “work” time where the kids are gone and we get everything we need to get done, done.  However, what happens when summer comes along?  When instead of the quiet six hours, we are bombarded with questions and requests and loud children running amok?

It would be silly to think that nothing will change and we can keep going with our work as we planned, unless you’ve arranged out-of-home care or camps for your kids all summer.  So what can you do?  Here are three things to remember and consider for summer work.

Lower Your Expectations

The very first thing is to scale back on what you expect to get done.  This also means that if you’re in a business with deadlines, react accordingly.  Perhaps you need to change your usual timeline for deadlines or you need to take on less to meet the deadlines you have, but one thing is for sure: Your expectations must change.

Set Aside Strict Work and Kid Time Each Day

As strange as it sounds, one of the problems from working from home when kids are around is that you can find yourself in a rut where you’re neither fully into your work or fully there with your children.  When you allow this “half-assed” kind of situation to emerge it often leads to frustration on your behalf because you aren’t getting done what you need to get done and your kids get angry and frustrated because they don’t feel that they have your attention either.

The amount of work time you can set aside will likely be dictated by the age of your child; younger kids will tolerate less time where they can’t bug you without an emergency than older kids.  If you need to use the TV for an hour, don’t beat yourself up, it’s okay, but hopefully most school-age kids have enough to occupy their imagination without needing adult help or help of the electronic kind.  If your kids are younger, you may need to accept smaller, but more frequent work times (e.g., one hour work, 30 minutes kids, one hour work, 30 minutes kids, etc.) whereas with older kids you may be fine with a three or four hour stretch.

Adding in the kid times is essential to your children feeling connected to you and knowing you are there for and with them.  Even 30 minutes at a time, where you are playing a game or doing an activity is enough for many kids to feel that connection and give them the “parent-time” they need to give you another hour or so of work.  When the kids feel connected and that you are there for them, they are less likely to act out which makes the whole day easier for everyone.

Plan Outings that Let You Work

Picking locations where you can work and the kids can run free is great.  A local park where you feel comfortable sitting on the bench or on a blanket while your kid runs around gives you work freedom and your kids time outside and time playing.  Science centres are great if they have rooms where the kids can explore (and not escape) while you do work by the entrance are also great.  Really anywhere the kids have fun and there’s a spot for you to work is one way to extend the work periods guilt-free because your kids are probably having even more fun.

By Tracy Cassels

June 30, 2014