How to Survive Your Kids Time off

How to Survive Your Kids Time off

Linda Pliagas writes for – a Ms.Money partner.

Many professionals decide to leave the 9-to-5 corporate rat race and turn to eWorking because they want to spend more time with their families. Only after they renovate that extra room and turn it into a home office do they realize just how difficult it can be to work when the children are home from school during the summer. The frenzied atmosphere and constant disruptions can make even the calmest of parents lose it. Before you ask your former boss for that old office cubicle, read on to get useful advice from other eWorking parents.

Your children have been looking forward to summer for months. They made a list of all the places they want to visit: the zoo, the movie theater, and an amusement park. Of course, you want to spend time with them, but what about that big project due next week? How will you be able to work from home with a house full of rambunctious kids?

Cheryl Demas, author of The Work at Home Mom’s Guide to Home Business and editor of (The Online Magazine for Work at Home Moms), knows these challenges firsthand. For years, Demas worked as an engineer, until 1994 when she decided to leave corporate America to work at home. Demas says it’s challenging to mix family life with at-home career responsibilities, but she stresses that it can definitely be done. “I get up really early and stay up really late. Also when my husband comes home from work, he can take over and I have some uninterrupted time.” Demas adds that now that her two daughters are older, they are capable of entertaining themselves. “They play independently now and that gives me more time to get my work done.”

Corin Walson, owner of a home-based public relations agency, admits it is tricky to find the time and energy to work when her 6-year-old twin daughters are out of school. She says that when her girls, Shyla and Lauren, were younger, she worked during their nap times, but those tranquil hours are long gone. “As they got older and nap times became obsolete, the juggling and balancing act began,” she comments.

In order to complete projects, she also works late, after they’ve gone to bed, or gets up early in the morning. When working during the day is a necessity, she relies on “the ultimate babysitter: television.” However, Walson does restrict the amount of TV her twins watch. “I would feel guilty if they watched more than an hour and a half, so it’s amazing how focused a person can be when she knows she has until the end of the Disney video to finish a project.”

Of course every situation varies, and the ages of the children determine many factors, such as whether they can play with minimal supervision for an extended period of time or if work must be done while they nap.

For those times when deadlines must be met, Demas suggests hiring a reliable neighborhood teenager to watch your kids and keep them entertained for a few hours. Teenagers often have the energy to keep up with your little ones, plus they can do errands or chores around the house. Best of all, they’re affordable.

If your children are old enough, make them your assistants instead of hiring outside help. “My 10-year-old daughter was able to put 200 checks in numerical order, check the clearing amount to written amount, and confirm the statement amounts,” says Bruce Ailion, a father and real estate professional based in Atlanta, who adds, “Find something they can do, organize, fold, stamp and lick.” This approach also helps the kids feel included and involved in your work life.

When they are not lending Dad a helping hand, his children — ages 5, 10 and 13 — watch TV, read or play while he works on the computer researching properties, preparing advertising and prospecting. Ailion suggests that parents set up their desk where it’s easy for them to work and keep an eye on their children.

One way parents can mix business with pleasure is to take their work outside the confinement of the home office. Ailion says he enjoys making phone calls lounging outside on his deck while his children swim. He added that he also likes to take his three youngsters on the road to run errands. “Things like dropping papers off, putting up signs, shopping for office supplies or client gifts can be accomplished with children. They enjoy shopping, meeting people and riding around.”

Another way to get work done while children are on summer break is to utilize every second. Demas says parents should “take advantage of free moments.” She always takes work with her when she is chauffeuring her daughters to activities. “There’s a lot of free time when you drop off or pick up.”

Of course an easy resolution for eWorking parents is to enroll the children in camp for part of the summer, but keep in mind that most are costly. Check to see if your community offers inexpensive summer programs for the kids — a fun way for the kids to stay busy. Another alternative is to get together with other homebound professionals and form a co-op babysitting group — each member takes a turn watching all the kids for a few hours.

Parenting is tiring and difficult and being an eWorking mom or dad can be even more wearisome — balancing the two daily can be as close as one gets to performing a juggling act without having to join a circus. But when things get tough this summer, instead of losing your patience with your children, hug them. Remember, they’re the reason you chose eWorking.

“Enjoy summer and enjoy your kids,” Walson advises, “Work still has to continue, of course, but if it means burning that midnight oil again, it’s only temporary. The same goes for the kids being kids — nothing lasts forever.”