If there is ever a season for zero productivity, internal rage, self doubt, lack of self control, and overall inadequacy as a Mom-preneur (work from home Mom who is an entrepreneur) -it would be summer. Summertime at my house begins with visions of my children in summer dresses frolicking freely in a flowered meadow. Me- smiling as I watch them contently while sitting on a hand knit wool blanket from Ireland with my laptop resting softly in the shade and money flowing freely into my bank account. Reality usually sets in sometime within the first week of summer. Reality includes screaming matches through closed doors at my kids….and me ingesting one….ok sometime two…entire bags of BBQ potato chips while getting some…a little…ok sometimes ZERO work done in an entire day.
I work from home…thankfully….unfortunately…(My kids would give you that exact same response.) Below is my typical summer work day I have expertly honed through the years:
-Go to Wal-Mart. Spend a fortune to have a “cheap” summer. Items include bubbles, sprinklers, plastic baseball bats, bug catchers, sidewalk chalk, kites, and any other shiny bright object that appears to have more than 10 minutes of entertainment value. All items must be foldable, collapsible, etc., as they will end up in a filthy heap in my garage that no one will touch after the first week of June.
-Create schedules, sticker charts, “mommy’s working” note for my office door
-Explain to the children the “rules” of when they can bother me and when they can’t
-Make a calendar of all the fun things we will do when Mommy’s not working
-Close my office door to work…and listen to the children start to fight
-Open the door to find out what’s going on. Get them re-situated. Close the office door and listen to them fight.
-Open the door and bring out a new shiny bright object for them to play with
-Close the door and listen to them play for 2 seconds…then fight
-Open the door, yell, slam something new down on the table for them to play with
-Close the door and listen to them complain that they’re bored
-Open the door, kick them outside
-Close the door and watch them fight outside my office window
-Open the window, scream at them to stop fighting because the neighbors can hear them. Close the window and watch them flop down like dejected sloths melting in summer heat and complain that they’re bored.
-Work for 2 seconds and hear a knock on my window. Listen to them ask me to come back inside. I shake my head no. Repeat 872 times.
-Let them back inside 10 minutes later and watch them collapse in a heap in front of electronics
-Close the door and feel guilty I’m working instead of spending time with my kids
-Open the door to see what they’re watching and make awkward conversation. Feel guilty that I’m spending time with my kids instead of working. Go back in my office and close the door.
-Listen to them fight over electronics. Open the door and scream at them they’re lucky they don’t live in a 3rd world country. Give them a lecture. Make them do a chore.
-Go back in the office. Feel guilty. Stress eat. Glance at the time. It’s 9:17 am.
-Repeat hourly…for three months.
I decided I needed some work “productivity hacks” that were better than what’s previously listed when it came to keeping my kids entertained for little or no money while I worked. I did some extensive scientific research…by posting a sign on my Facebook page…for advice. Here are a few of my favorites from friends and some from “SuperMoms” on the Internet who lie about how perfect their parenting skills/home/and children are:
- Library Summer Programs
- Geocaching OR painting and finding rocks. Here is an example:
- Vacation Bible School (Lots of churches host these and they are extremely inexpensive and a lot of fun. Look for giant VBS signs when you’re driving outside church buildings.)
- YMCA-(Usually have internet so you can work while kids swim, do programs, etc. Ours has a coffee shop so I can actually host meetings, too.)
- Art Club
- Sports Camps through non-profits
- Go for evening walks
- Flex your work hours to fit in fun
- Hiking, biking, swimming, anything that’ll wear them out physically. J
- Make summer books. (Love this.)
- Use 50% off regular item coupons from craft stores.
- Make slime. http://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/homemade-slime-recipe/
- Have them make a movie or video with smart phone then watch at dinnertime. Let them use costumes, music, edit, etc.
- Match reading hours for Youtube/Video game hours. Example: for every 30 minutes of reading-they get 1 hour of Youtube.
- Set up the big tent in the living room. Let them do “camping” overnight.
- Have them make homemade board game. Check Pinterest for lots of ideas.
- Check local bowling alleys and skating rings for free or nearly free summer bowling programs for kids. Lots have Wi-Fi.
- Free E-book for kids on Amazon
- Free Lego club for kids
- Home Depot, Lowes and Michaels free or nearly free classes for kids
- “Photo Walk” through Apple
- Microsoft Youth Spark
- Whole Foods Kids Cooking Class
- Bass Pro Shop Summer Camp
- Volunteer to help an elderly neighbor with their yard. (Can get list of “shut-ins” from local fire department)
- Search for local free or nearly free day art camps
- Free summer movie nights in the park
- Homemade slip-n-slide
- Good ol’ fashioned bubbles
- Free printables for kids http://funcheaporfree.com/2016/06/100-summer-activities-for-kids-free-printable-included
- Babysitting Co-op
- Work while you vacation. I do this A LOT. We’ve spent over a month on the road so far this summer. There’s wifi pretty much everywhere if I need it. I schedule certain days to work where the kids are at the pool/beach, etc. and certain days for fun. OR work in mornings, play in the afternoons. I use this to book my travel: http://bucketlistvacations.tripspin.com/snap
- Hire a “Mommy’s Helper” for a few hours each morning, Cheaper than a babysitter or nanny.
*Bonus: #36. Become independently wealthy. Hire 12 nannies. Fly them all to Paris with the kids for the Summer while I get numerous plastic surgery procedures done. Facetime them periodically…so I can listen to them fight. Then hang up and let the Nannies deal with it.
I have found these mindsets helpful:
-Remember kids don’t need to be “entertained” twenty-four seven. It’s good for them to figure out what to do on their own when they’re bored.
-I automatically know summer will not be my most productive months. I try to remember that when I’m feeling guilty about not getting tons done. My kids are only hear for so many years, and I want to spend time with them as much as I can…well-I MAY have moments where I want to spend time as little as I can…but for the most part-I want to be with them and I need to plan my work year accordingly.
-Boundaries are ok. It’s good to lead by example and show the kids the value of working hard. They learn by watching what you do, not by listening to what you say. If you want your kids to know how to work, you yourself have got to do it.
-Give yourself grace. We all have “Mommy Meltdowns” behind closed doors. There’s no such thing as a “SuperMom”. We’re human and we fail. That’s ok.
-Support one another in our Mommy endeavors. No haters needed. Mom’s hate themselves already. We don’t need other people pointing out our imperfections. Find a supportive group you can be real with, encourage each other and help each other out.
Now-if you’ll excuse me. I need to open my office door and yell.
Stacy Pederson is a Colorado based Humorist and Funny Motivational Speaker who is incessantly insecure with a chronic Thai Food / Netflix binge habit.