For nine months of the year, my daily routine is pretty set. Since I teach high school, I would say it’s even more structured than most people since a bell drives my deadlines and tells me when I can npee each hour. But in the summer, I am suddenly thrown into the unstructured world of the Stay (and Work) at Home Mom.
While I don’t have grading and lesson plans during the summer, I still have writing deadlines, social media work, and various school-related items that need to be done. Lots of people like to say, “You must have so much more time now that school is out!”
Actually, I have less. I don’t have in between classes, an hour-long planning period, a 30-minute duty-free lunch, or after school work time anymore. There are small kids with me all of the time–there is one hanging on my arm right at this second, actually–but I have a few things that makes working from home a little less anxiety-ridden.
Keep it Structured
My kids thrive on knowing what is coming next. We have the days of the week posted on our slider door and each Sunday, Eddie (five) and I use post-it notes to put up what we can look forward to on each day.
Each day is also structured. I get up at 7am before the kids and usually have anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour before one of them gets up. I use this time to check/respond to emails, drink my first cup of coffee, and review the To Do list for the day.
Breakfast is by 9am, and by 10am we are out the door for our daily “adventure”. Lunch is around noon and Charlie’s (two) nap is by 2pm until about 4pm This is “quiet time” in our house. I usually work and Eddie does a project, plays outside by himself, or watches a movie. After nap we all usually play outside (weather permitting) until my husband gets home by 5pm.
Each day we have an “adventure”. This can be anything from playing outside by our own house to going to the zoo. This week our adventures included getting groceries, having a playdate, having Granny come over (I had an appointment), going with me to the chiropractor, and checking out books at the library. Our adventure always takes place in the morning so that we are home for lunch/nap/quiet time.
This “adventure” is meant to get the kids out of the house and moving. It is time that we get to spend together without being “plugged in” to anything.
Our adventures are planned based on what we need to get done during the week and what I think will be fun for the kids. Errands are not usually the most fun, but if I can pair them with a play area (like at the mall) or a trip to a park, things can be more successful.
Get Rid of the Kids
Ok, I am sort of kidding on this one, but I do send my kids to daycare one day a week. If I didn’t have that, I would probably hire a mommy’s helper at least one day a week to play with the kids while I work. That one “relief” day means I can run errands, make phone calls, and write without interruption from 7am until I pick them up at 4pm.
Have Realistic Expectations
The hardest thing for me is to not over-book myself on any given day with deadlines.
During the school year, my computer is on at work all day. I can check my emails (and other social media) during passing time or on my planning period. Having my computer constantly open at home is not realistic. It is distracting to me, and therefore taking time away from my kids.
I’ve learned that once breakfast is over, so is any chance of getting work done until nap/quiet time. After quiet/nap time, my next time would be after they are in bed for the night. Sometimes I get extra work time (like if they want to do a movie morning and they are occupied with that), but I never count on it.
Is this similar to your work at home schedule? What helps keep you productive while the kids are around?
Katie Sluiter is a full-time high school teacher, mom of two boys, and writer at SluiterNation.com.
Awesome tips, Katie! I also find that taking the kids out breaks the day up, makes time pass faster, and er, tires them out sufficiently for nap/ quiet time later.
These are great tips, Katie! I am in the process of making up a plan for our summer for when my oldest is home with his younger brother in a couple of weeks. I think having a set schedule that allows for flexible activities is definitely the way to go! 🙂
Great tips! I’m a stay at home mom year round, and I could stand to incorporate more of these every day!
My days were scheduled like this when the kids were little. As they grew I got rid of the schedule because I can really do anything I want (include leave the house) without having to take them along. But guess what? We are much less productive. I do better with a schedule, and so do my kids. We get our work done in the morning and that leaves the afternoon for whatever we want.