I’m currently sitting at the beach with my 6 year old fast asleep on the couch beside me. In these quiet moments I’m reminded of just how precious every moment with her is. There will soon be a day that she doesn’t nap, that she doesn’t want to snuggle up next to me, and when she has family vacations of her own to go to. In moments like these I’m so grateful for the flexibility my job offers me, but when you work from home, summer with kids (especially young ones) can be a challenge. How can I stay in my routine and enjoy this time with her to the fullest?
If I’m being totally honest, I first found her being at home during these months incredibly stressful. I felt like a bad parent during the times she was watching tv, and like a bad employee during the times we went on picnic lunches together. See my personality is all or nothing. I’m in or I’m out and while I have certainly learned a lot about balance over the years, it’s not something that comes natural to me and it takes extra effort for me go cohesively between mindsets.
I needed a plan, something to help me keep my sanity. Enter teacher mode. It had been years since I made any lesson plans but I didn’t see why I couldn’t apply the same concept here. I could sit down on Saturday morning with my coffee and plan out the week ahead. By that point I was aware of work commitments for the coming week and could block off set times, I could structure in activities my daughter would like – such as art projects, science experiments (her favorite), or other independent things she could do during my work blocks – having this planned out meant that I could have all the supplies ready so that I wasn’t constantly interrupted by her asking for things. Then we could plan activities outside the work blocks that we could do together – going to the movies, riding bikes, going to the pool, etc. – this helped her see that even though I had work to accomplish that there was still plenty of time in my day that would be focused on her. We had a jar of activities and sometimes we wouldn’t have a pre-planned activity just pre-planned time then we would pull from the jar and see what adventure we would be up to that day.
Maybe you don’t want a giant weekly calendar on your fridge, maybe that feels like more work to you, but I am positive there are small boundaries and limits you can structure in, that will help keep you sane during these (long) summer months. In addition to keeping yourself in a positive mindset, you’ll be modeling how to balance work and personal time and show your child that they don’t have to choose between the two. In the moments of stress and tension that are sure to come along, I find that grabbing a popsicle and soaking up a little sun together goes a long way in relieving it.