Many of us parents are a mixed bag of emotions right now as our kids complete another school year. For me, there’s a strong desire to bottle up their ‘little-ness’ because I see it dissolving right before my eyes. I also feel the relief of being able to put the words, “Come on, hurry up! You’re going to be LATE!” to rest for a little while. Sure, there’ll be places to go, but I’m staying away from anywhere that hands out late slips. Of course, there’s the comfort of knowing that the 5 of us will be spending a lot of time together. No, I didn’t say ‘apprehension’ – I said comfort. I would rather have my kids with me than not. And when my husband is around (which he is a lot in the summer – thank God!) everything is so much more fun and easy!
But…I do know that my sanity is a loose and wispy thing that can break away from me if I’m not careful. And I also know that the combination of a work-from-home scenario plus 3 kids in my full-time care can threaten said sanity.
There are many things I can do with or around the kids. Like housework. Everyone has their jobs around the house and that includes playing with the toddler when I need to get certain things done.
Also, errands; my kids have come with me to run personal or business errands since they were babies so I’m not worried about getting out to do those things. In fact, my son, with his long dark eyelashes, often seals the deal for me when I’m meeting with potential vendors. And if I need to be child-free for an appointment or meeting, I do have neighbours/friends/my sister-in-law who I can call on for help.
But there’s the issue of actually working on my business that needs to continue to happen daily over the summer. During the school year, I do this when the kids are at school and the toddler is napping, plus in the evenings after they go to bed (or I should say, after they go back to bed for the 4th time).
I told them the other day that we were going to have a GREAT summer – as long as they don’t drive me crazy! When I came across Clare De Boer (of The Gift of Writing)’s Facebook status with her scheduled summer day outlined on a poster paper, I realized I had to be a little more specific about how this was all going to go down.
So I created my own.
My prime work time during the day is the toddler’s naptime. (The older kids do a much better job of entertaining themselves than she does! Plus I can let them go outside to play without watching them like a hawk.) There is room for a variety of activities at that time; I will make a separate ‘chart’ with options they can choose from.
I’m all about letting them use their imagination to come up with their own play, but if a kid is going to knock on my studio door and say, “I don’t know what to do” I want a list of choices to point to without having to lift my eyes from my computer screen.
I’m sure many work-at-home parents unveil the ‘perfect’ day to their children at the beginning of summer with a mixture of faith and fear. “Ok, kids, this is how it’s going to be! And we’ll all be cheerful and cooperative!” I’ve learned the tough lesson of needing to be flexible though. (And I did it while kicking and screaming, all the way). I could try this and it might not work every day. Then again, there will be plenty of days when I can grab time from other parts of the day. Like I do now, I just have to see the opportunity and seize it.
Many of my friends are in the same boat with home-based businesses and kids off for a couple months. We are each being creative in how we can maintain our work time but still enjoy this beautiful time with our kids. After all, many of us are doing this gig just so we can have that kind of balance.
This summer I’m going to focus on my blessings and this well of gratitude inside me. It’s so much easier to be less frustrated when I see my kids not as a block to my productivity, but as the reason I even made this journey back to my Self and my creativity. Yes, they’ll annoy me. They’ll fight with each other and throw other curve balls at me when all I really want is some quiet to hear myself think!
But the bottom line is, I owe these kids a lot. My eldest daughter reminded me that I am so much bigger than I was being. She was my catalyst to authentic living. My son gave me the guts to make a big leap right on to a path that is more fulfilling. And my baby girl…taught me that dreams do come true, and to just trust that the Universe has me wrapped up in its loving plan.
The work will get done and the memories will be made. That is my intention for this summer.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!