Working the Summer Months: Working at Home with Kids

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.

Scale Back

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.


Profile image for Rebecca Garland
Rebecca is a full-time everything. She teaches English and reading to her much loved, if challenging, high school students during the day and is a freelance education writer in the evenings. With almost ten years in the classroom and advanced degrees in business and information science, Rebecca specializes in materials that inform, educate and entertain. Rebecca indulges herself by pretending to have spare time and writing about the ups and downs of being a freelancing mama whenever she gets a chance.

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5 thoughts on “Working the Summer Months: Working at Home with Kids”

  1. Thanks so much for this, Rebecca. We writers have to be so self-disciplined, it’s good to be reminded that flexibility is important, too. Most of your suggestions would also be a help to writers who are caregivers (‘carers’ in the UK.) I don’t have kids, but for years I was a full-time caregiver for my mother. When I tried to write for a solid four hours daily, I went nuts. I learned to schedule my writing around Mom’s needs: an hour before she woke up in the morning, then another 2 hours in the afternoon while she napped. When she had an appointment or an emergency, I promised myself I’d make up the time within three days.

  2. Same here Rebecca! Since mine are older, I hope to let them go a bit. I also do two swap days with other working girlfriends who set there own schedule. So I have a bunch o’ kids twice a week, but I also have mine out of the house twice a week.

  3. This will be my 6th year working at home with my kids. I’ve had to spend a couple of summers toughing it out, but this year they will be attending a summer day camp program. I’m working on launching a couple of personal projects so scaling back isn’t in the cards for me this summer.

  4. As a stay-at-home mom and writer, I have to say that I like the idea of scaling back in the summer months. Of course, this isn’t always an option for everyone, but for those who can, why not? I have four children form the ages of one to almost 16. My philosophy is that children grow way too fast. You blink and suddenly they are school aged, then they are teens and before you know it, preparing for college! Yikes! Goes too fast, so enjoy it while you can.

    Great post and wonderful advice for writers who can and can’t scale back in the summer months!

  5. It’s always nice to know there are so many other moms out there just like me. I’m still just excited every time my boys go upstairs to play and leave me alone downstairs for a few minutes!


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