There are many things I love about being a WAHM (that's work at home mom, for those in the know). There is almost never a traffic jam in my commute (unless I have to go anywhere near the bathroom - one is just NOT enough for 4 people)! Every day is casual Friday, and yes casual means pyjamas and/or a bathrobe. Plus I can multi-task with the best of them, getting in a load of laundry, a quick workout and catch up on my latest Netflix addiction all on my lunch break! All of those perks start to lose their shine once summer rolls around, though.
Summer and the break from school is the bane of every WAHM's existence. Kids and their boundless energy, the million requests, and the "I'm bored" whines are amplified a MILLION times when we're facing down a deadline or - heaven forbid - on a call with a client. It's not an undertaking for the faint of heart. Now in my third summer of working from home full time, I feel like I've learned a few tricks for surviving the summer with my sanity and my deadlines in check.
We have our routine down pat. And by routine, I mean the kids tearing the house apart while I type furiously away at my keyboard, sporting fancy noise-cancelling headphones. I kid, I kid. The noise cancelling headphones are but a wish that will never be fulfilled. As much as routine is the backbone of making it through summer break, they do get stale, and without injecting a little spontaneity into the mix, things would get old quickly! So what's a WAHM to do?
These are my tips for finding moments of impromptu fun amidst the chaos.
1. Burn their energy first thing. The typical routine in our house is for us to have breakfast, and then the kids get a bit of TV time before we start our day. This allows me a quick check in with work to make sure no fires have happened overnight or in the wee hours of the morning that need tending to right away. At least once a week though, I try to shake things up with an early morning play session. This usually happens when the stars align and I'm up early and the kids sleep in. I get my check-in done before they wake up. Then we have breakfast together and go for a bike ride or spend an hour in the park before heading back home. I find on days that we do this, they'll play happily together for longer without interrupting my work or breaking out in fights. Win-Win.
2. Pack your lunch. Everyone's gotta eat right? But who said it had to be at the table? Even moving things out to a picnic blanket in the back yard or stopping by the park (can you tell we spend a lot of time at parks?) brings a breath of fresh air to a stale routine. If the weather is less than co-operative, challenging your kids to build a fort while you make lunch can be just as fun.
3. Change things up. Often the whines of boredom come when they feel like they've exhausted all of the fun at home, so I try and keep things fresh. We only keep some of our books, games, and toys in the play area, and I stash a bunch away in storage. When I feel them get to the edge of their entertainment limit, TA-DA! Here's a fun "new" thing you haven't played with in a while. Enjoy! I also hit up the dollar store for new and inexpensive activity books, paints, Play-Doh and other fun things that help to keep the boredom at bay.
4. Plan ahead. I know it seems less than impulsive if you plan your spontaneity ahead of time, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I love surprising my kids, so I try twice a month or so to work ahead so that I have an extra "unplanned" day free. We'll spend an entire day at Science World, or the beach, or the mall (hello mom of 2 girls!) and the fact that we get this surprise uninterrupted time together makes for a very fun time.
Working from home, especially in the summer, is no easy feat. But the flexibility and the extra time with my kids (and my Netflix) make it totally worth the effort!