If you’re used to sending your kids away to school and working, you’re in for a rough ride – summer is almost here! Of course, those mothers who are insane like I am don’t have to worry too much about this. In fact, the summer months are the most relaxing months for my career, simply because I’m on summer vacation as well. My mornings won’t change much once school lets out. I’ll write for a couple of hours before dawn, but maybe I’ll get to crawl back into bed for an hour and rest instead of packing lunches and prepping backpacks.
If you’re not a part-time writing parent and you have to find ways to balance your time this summer, you have a few options.
There is no rule saying you have to work full-time all the time. Perhaps working part-time over the summer is the perfect solution, especially if your household budget can handle it. You might convert to my insane hours of working 4 to 6 am or the more common hours of 8 to 10 or 11 pm when the kids are asleep. If you’re lucky you might be able to squeeze in some work during the day while the kids destroy the upstairs or watch television.
Simply removing the pressure to work full-time or for a set period during the day allows you more time with your kids and more time doing fun activities now that everyone is home together. You might also find that working very part-time boosts your productivity as well. I work two hours a day, five or six days a week and I make almost as much writing as I do teaching – it’s a matter of billing yourself appropriately and managing that time like a slave driver.
Send the Kids Away
There are so many good camps and programs during the summer months if you need quiet time away from the kids. If your kids are out of school, but need an activity to keep you all productive and sane, look to local universities, museums and community centers for opportunities. Don’t over schedule your children, of course, and if you plan to keep them busy every week during the summer, try and use the same location or childcare provider to give the kids some consistency. A benefit of the summer childcare is that it is often fewer hours than regular school hours, so you have time to work and plenty of time to spend with your kids.
Invite Help Over
If you have younger elementary school kids, invite over a reliable teenager and let him or her handle the requests of your kids for a few hours. Bring over your babysitter and then melt away into your office or take the laptop to the coffee shop down the street and get your work done. This may be less expensive than the camps over the summer, especially if you have multiple children, and your kids will likely think having a “big kid” over to play is very exciting – a total win/win.
Tough It Out
If your kids are old enough, they may be trained well enough to leave you alone during the day while you work. I’ve found that trying to schedule work this way leaves me feeling stressed, but my kids are still young. One thing that does help is working in the morning. You don’t have to get up insanely early to work mornings. If you wake up at 7 and write until 11 or 12, your older kids may only be up for part of those hours and then spend those hours watching cartoons or playing quietly. Mornings and fresh, non-grouchy kids seem to be the best combination for writing during the day if you have to write with kids underfoot.