Working Moms and Summer Break

Figuring out childcare for the summer can be hard for a lot of families, especially if both parents work. Here are 2 lists that can help you organize your summer:

Summer Schedule

The first list is an example of a summer schedule you can try at your house. This one is geared towards families who have a parent at home with the kids, but it can be easily edited for any circumstances – a parent who is working from home, or working part-time, or even parents who are working full-time and have kids in full-time day camps but are struggling with the lack of homework and after school activities that might normally fill late afternoon and evening hours. Not everyone will want a strict schedule, but sometimes having at least loose parameters to start from can help both kids and parents know what the expectations are. And for many kids, some structure to their days, even during the summer, can give them an important sense of security.

Summer Kid Care Options

A lot of working parents struggle with figuring out how to manage the kids when school is out. The first summer after kindergarten can be especially hard for parents who used daycare before school started, and are now facing their first extended months without childcare.

Here are some options:

  • Day Camps: Most parent I know who work full-time handle summer break by putting their kids in camps for the summer. Just be aware that this is expensive, and it can be a hassle to handle changing drop-off locations and activities every week all summer long, unless you find a summer camp that works basically like a daycare and is available for the entire summer. You may also discover that many camps are 9-3, or 9-4, rather than full day camps. This can all add up to a surprisingly difficult juggling act for working parents.
  • Family Members: Even if it’s just one day a week, knowing you’ve got a full day covered so you can focus on work can make a world of difference.
  • Exchange Playdates: Sometimes you can find other families in the same situation and you can trade off childcare a few days a week. With the right mix of kids, it can actually be easier to handle more kids at the same time because they entertain each other!
  • Use flex time at work: If you work part-time, or full-time but local summer camps don’t extend quite late enough, find out what flex time options are available for you at work. Many schools only break for about 10 weeks, so you can put a cap on what you’re asking for when you talk to your boss. You can also have your spouse do the same, so each of you only needs flex time for a little over a month.
  • Work from home: This often seems like an ideal option (and it can be great) but it takes more dedication than you might to think to get it to work. Check out the tips below to help make this a success.

Working from home summer break tips

In addition to figuring out some childcare or flex time options, there are other things you can do to help you continue to work even when your kids aren’t in school all day. These are tips I’ve honed from 15 years of working from home during the summers!

  • Work in small blocks: I’ve had to learn over the years that I’m pretty much never going to get long stretches of uninterrupted work time. Now I plan for this – I break up my work into small blocks and plan them ahead of time so when I do get 30-60 minutes of work time, I’m ready to jump right in on the next task.
  • Be flexible: I’ve discovered that one of the most productive times of day for me is in the evening after the kids have gone to bed. I know I’ll get a few uninterrupted hours and that helps me a bunch. I know others who like to get up early before their kids for the same reason.
  • Write down and post your work schedule: Being clear with your kids what times of day you plan to work and don’t want to be interrupted can be a huge help. They can often give you a couple of hours to yourself if they understand when you’ll be available to them again.
  • Get kids to help with housework: Your kids can absolutely pitch in to help with your increased workload while they’re home from school. This benefits you because you’ll have less to do and it benefits them because they’ll be learning important life skills that they’ll need to know when leave home. They will also feel good about supporting you and the family by stepping up.
  • Set up screen time rules: One concern most parents have when working from home is that their kids will take the opportunity to be on screens all day long. Setting up your rules about screen time ahead of time can be super helpful.
  • Allow some screen time: You can also use screen time to help you get a little more work time! Not all screen time is bad, so figure out how to best use it to your advantage!
  • Schedule in play time: You need to work, but it’s also summer break! If there’s ever a time to take it a little easy at work and plan and enjoy some great adventures with your kids, this is it.

Balancing kids and work is always a balancing act – but doing some planning ahead of time really can make a big difference!

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