Around here, school ends in late June. And I seriously can’t wait for summer vacation to begin. I can’t wait to be free from homework, mandatory laundry, bedtime by 10pm, and alarm clocks! I love our late nights, unscheduled days and evenings by the pool waiting for the fireflies to begin their soft light show.
But, truth be told, as someone who works from home, I have learned to be careful of what I wish for.
You see, there is a Monkeys Paw I must be wary of in all this summer loving. In wishing for days with my kids, well, I actually get days with my kids. And trying to blend summer fun with deadlines and workflow can be tricky. This will be my 4th summer working from home-and I have learned a few things about what works for my family- and what doesn’t. First- we need to be honest here.
|working from home does not look like this. and don’t even get me started on the skirt and boots…|
|nor does it look like this. for anyone. ever.|
Each day ask: “what is my priority?” I’d like to say that family always comes first (yes- actually they do) but there are these little notes that keep popping in my mailbox asking for money. They are called bills. And they must be answered. That means that at least 2-3 days a week in the summer, my work must be a priority. Around here, we call those days, “Lazy days” or Pajama days”. That’s code for “mamas not taking you guys anyplace today- and we are having cereal, hot dogs and cold cuts, not necessarily in that order. You may play video games and veg out however you’d like. Yes, you may dump ALL the Legos on the floor and have at the Playdoh- but you must let me work for at least 5 hours straight- with breaks only to feed you and address medical emergencies.”
Here’s the trick to making the above work– curtailing those “Lazy Day” activities to the days I work- so the buggers actually look forward to it- and- this is the big one- waking up super duper early. If I wake up at 5:30am- I can get a good 3 hours in before the kids even wake up. I have been known to let them stay up really late the night before my work day, to be sure they sleep in 😉 And, by waking up that early- 5 hours is 10:30 am! I can easily (and often times do) stretch it to 2:pm. That’s a 9 hour work day- and there is still a full day left to enjoy outside by the pool!
The second thing I’ve learned to do is keep the family involved in my work. Three guys in the house- and none scrap. BUT- all understand the terms word art, papers and ellies. I always show them my mood board before I begin a project. It helps get them invested. They get to see my work evolve from colors and sketches to digi papers to a kit, to CT layouts to the promo all the way to the sales. And then, when they see the concrete result of payday- it really brings home why mom has to finish this kit tonight. You want to go on a mini vacation you say? Well, if I can get this design done this week- then yes! We can go 🙂 All of a sudden- they get it! And they see that this is really a team effort. By making them part of the team, and not the bad guys stealing my time away from my desk- I am a happier person too.
Don’t multitask, but do switch gears. Look, you can’t really do two important things at once. Multitasking just doesn’t work- and you don’t have to take my word for it- there are tons of articles written about it, like this one in Psychology Today. Working from home and playing with the kids simply can not be done at the same time. But, you can switch gears. You can do things in blocks. You do it between work tasks, so embrace it when balancing home and work. Expect that each day, you will need to switch gears, and it will make the ride a little smoother. For everyone.
I’ve also learned that I need to take time off. Everyone needs a vacation- time to unplug. Not just a day- but a long stretch of days. And with Ryan going into his Junior year of High School, I feel these simple summer days together are on a countdown. Soon there will be steady girlfriends, summer jobs, places to drive to on his own… so this summer with my 15 year old and 7 year old is a special one. They get one childhood- and will probably remember a total of 50 specific moments in their childhood summers. But they will always remember they way they felt in the summer at home with me. I don’t want them to feel as if they were in the way, or an obstacle. I want them to feel as if this was a special time. A time when the world didn’t stop- but moved more slowly. This year, I’ve blocked off a few weeks in July to take off. It’s kind of scary because my income is so closely tied to new releases, but its also tied to being creative and fresh. I know I will recharge and reflect during that time. And I’ll get to be with the stinkers- alot. They will see without a doubt that guarding these special days is my top priority. It’s why I work from home. So I guess there’s a paradox here: for me, to work well from home sometimes I have to NOT work from home. 🙂
I’m still learning how to make this work. And its not always easy, but at least I feel like I’m not fighting to make it work. There’s a certain flow that has come with the years- and I’m looking forward to the ride this summer. How about you? Any tips, tricks advice about working from home during the summer? I’d love to hear them!