Summer vacation isn’t a holiday for working mothers. The office workload remains the same and there’s plenty, plenty more to do on the home front. The kids are home, which means laid-back mornings, special snack requests, lots of friends over, a messy home and whines like “but what should I do”.
How does a working mom navigate these tricky waters and ensure that she stays on top of work even as her children enjoy their summer vacation?
Try these nine simple tips this year to make this time fun – for the entire family!
Build a parent team
Joining hands with other working mothers – be they friends, relatives or colleagues – can help women manage summer vacation just like they manage work: as a team. Reach out to other moms for play dates, group activities, car pools or picnics. Who else could keep an eye on your two for an hour while you are on a con call except a neighbour in the same boat?
Plan some solo time with them
It isn’t easy to switch between work and mommy mode, so make things easier by scheduling some time exclusively for the kids each day. It could be to go swimming, playing board games or a long-drawn-out bedtime routine – a happy child is more likely to be independent than an unhappy and clingy one.
Figure out options together
Children of all ages have a mind of their own so rope them in to figure out what they can do during this unstructured time. Take the “can do’s” and narrow them down into “will do’s” this summer. Be it books, movies, games, crafting, cooking or other pursuits, break the activities down into what they can do on their own and what can be joint activities (with you or their friends).
Make your home a hangout
Let’s face it: You can concentrate on your work single-mindedly when you know your children are safe and happy. Work towards making your home the hangout that all their friends love. Books, board games, art and craft supplies, outdoor activities and a stocked pantry – they’re sure to bring a smile to every child’s face.
Schedule a trip to Camp Nana
Chances are that the busyness of school life doesn’t really let your child interact with his or her grandparents. Set that wrong right by planning for some intergenerational fun this summer. You can either send the child(ren) to visit the grandparents or invite the seniors home for some quality time.
Give your child(ren) a job
If you’re finding it tough to engage children with toys, you aren’t alone. Make them feel important by giving them age-appropriate jobs. Apart from teaching your child more about what you do, a good work ethic and management skills, this increases your productivity. Don’t forget to pay the kids to keep them going!
Set up a WAHM swap
If you work from home, things get tougher. Make the days easier on yourself with a weekly kid-swap schedule with a stay-at-home or work-at-home mom. How it works? You watch her children along with your own for a couple of days every week while she does her things; she replies in kind on two other days.
Get daddy in on the act
Working moms have a lot on their plate, and it’s their right to ask daddy to take a bite. A big one! Figure out how the spouse can get involved in childcare during these busy months. Maybe he takes over for an hour every day – trip to the park, takes them swimming or does the bedtime ritual. If you work best at different hours, snag nighttime for yourself and let him have the a.m. hours. Suggest a daddy-and-kiddo road trip – it’s sure to improve their bonding and give you some time off!
Anoint children the weekend planner
Let your children be a bigger part of your life by letting them own some weekends. Let them decide what they want to do, when and how. Following their lead – from planning for breakfast to figuring out which park to go or friend to meet – will give them a sense of accomplishment and let them learn that they’re responsible for their decisions. Also, it ensures less planning for you.
Having the kids at home all day isn’t a lark, but remember that the summer vacation is a special time for them – one that they look forward to all year. So take a little time out to plan for these hot months.