Elizabeth Purpero is an entrepreneurial mom who blogs at Abundant Full Life.
Are you in the middle of making summer plans for your kids? Camps, sports, summer school and so on?
Don’t forget about yourself!
Now is the time to think about your business’s summer survival and to plan accordingly, so you can have time to work on your tasks while your kids are home for the next several months.
In this series, I will help you figure out how to balance work and kids for summer break.
First, we’ll focus on establishing things on the homefront so that kids can get acquainted with new routines and expectations … so that your ship will run smoother … so that you can work.
Next, we’ll dive into managing your time among the kids.
We’ll wrap up the series with some fun ideas for you and your family — because after all, summers are meant to be enjoyed!
Rule Your Roost
When the warmer months arrive, we dream of care-free days filled with family bike rides, ice cream, splashing in the pool, chasing fireflies and vacations. That’s the beauty of having the crew all together.
Work commitments and deadlines, though, don’t take a break for the summer.
What’s a mompreneur to do to ensure summer survival?
Establish your summer routines and guidelines the moment summer break starts.
That will ensure your flock is in good working order, so that you can be productive when it’s time for you to work.
You’d think kids would be at their best when given the freedom to do whatever they want whenever they want. But have you ever gone into a candy store and ate too much chocolate only to be left with a stomachache?
Leaving children to their own devices has the same effect.
Setting up parameters is the key element to summer survival. When kids know what’s expected of them, have predictability and a purpose to their day, they seem to behave better.
Rules and responsibilities gives them a framework and confidence.
Here are some suggestions to put into place.
Establish a new routine
Before my kids started school I didn’t have to transition them from one season to the next. They were home with me day in and day out, and our routine was the same in the summer as it was in the winter.
When my oldest completed his first year of school and was home full-time again, I realized I had to implement a new routine. He had had his own structure during the school day, and I had mine.
For the first few weeks I just followed my usual routine and threw him into the mix. During that time I was met with resistance; it was miserable.
I soon realized that I needed to create a routine that incorporated his needs along with mine. When that happened our days ran much smoother.
Want more details on creating your routine? Check this out.
Set summer break rules
You probably have certain house rules that are already in place. I found that I needed to add a few more into the mix to get us through our day.
For example, during the school year our time didn’t allow for endless screen time between school, homework and activities. We don’t have a time limit on devices because my kids just aren’t watching things for long period of times.
Summer is different. Kids think they can watch as much TV as they want, so we have to implement a time restriction.
Same with snacking. Being home all day entices my kids to go into the pantry as much as they want. I can’t afford to feed them all day long, nor is it healthy, so we have a snack rule too.
Messes can pile up when kids are home for the summer. Kids also want and need things throughout the day.
We can clean up after them and wait on them hand and foot and drive ourselves crazy. Or we can teach them responsibility and the concept of pitching in and helping out.
I actually increase the chore list in the summer because we have time to complete them. I keep the tasks simple and age appropriate.
My kids are 7 and 8, so they are in charge of things like making their bed daily, clearing their dishes after each meal, setting the table, putting toys away at the end of the day and putting shoes in the closet. They also help put away groceries, put their laundry away and feed the cat.
There is something magical about folding up a basket of laundry and being able to hand the clothes over to someone else instead of having to put it away myself.
Teaching the kids to get things for themselves is key for summer survival. I have things accessible for them, like water bottles, snack bowls and snacks (so that they can get themselves a snack with permission), shoes or tissues and napkins.
Giving them access to things they can do on their own cuts down on the requests for help.
To help me keep everything straight, I have several visuals hanging on the fridge so both I and my kids can refer to it. Like teachers posting the daily schedule, I have our daily routine posted. I also have our summer rules up.
One visual I really like is our “When can I have screen time?” sign.
Last summer I implemented this visual to let my kids know when they could have screen time. Basically they have to be ready for the day, have played something, spent time outdoors, read a book, and completed a daily chore before hopping on a device.
Making this poster saved me from having to say, “get off the Ipad,” and “It’s not time to watch TV.” It also motivated my kids to get dressed and do things instead of me having to nag them to get dressed or get outside to play.
Create an incentive program
It seems like the first part of summer break is the honeymoon period where everyone is happy and helpful. About halfway through, though, things start to slide.
To keep me from having to scold or lecture, I found incentive programs keeps us all happy.
Last year I came up with the “Filler Up Cup.”
I drew 3 lines around a cup. My children got a bead to put in the cup for things like random acts of kindness, completing chores without extra reminders, or having a great day.
As the cup got filled up to each line, they got a reward. The first level was an ice cream treat and the last level reached was a trip to Chuck E. Cheese.
With any of these ideas there is room for flexibility. Overall, these ideas do help keep things running smoothly so you can survive summer with your kids and be productive without too much added stress.
Once you have some of these suggestions into place, it’s time to think about when you will get your work done at home.
Next time, I will share some summer survival tips to help you manage your time with your kids and business while school is out.