Deb just posted some excellent summer options for work-at-home parents and they’re handy but I have a few more suggestions along with some helpful tips. Summer, for me is a little like 3 months worth of chaos. Not only does my son’s free school shut down, but my partner’s kiddos are at the house more. Three kids + FT paid blogging + FT self-run projects = insanity on my part. It’s like a much longer winter break; ugh.
First read managing work in a chaotic household for some general help then keep reading below for some summer specific tips.
Summer camp – summer camp is an outstanding option (as Deb notes) IF you can afford it. Many work-at-home parents, well, parents in general, think they can’t afford camp. However, in reality, most parents can afford summer camp. I wrote a much longer post about this, not surprisingly titled – You Can Afford Summer Camp, but here’s a quick recap if you don’t want to click that link.
- Sign up NOW! My son’s camp takes off $ just because I sign him up early.
- Most camps offer group deals for siblings or if you can get friends to sign up.
- Many camps offer parent volunteer programs which lower the cost of your attendance. This means more time you don’t have, but if your child gets to go to camp, leaving you some alone time to work it could be worth it.
- Most camps offer partial or total scholarships and other financial assistance for families. Ask if the camp participates in income-eligible subsidy programs such as through Title XX.
- Use your Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account to pay for camp. Visit the FSA Feds Web site for more information.
- Find a less expensive camp by shopping around and by first checking with your child’s school, the local community centers, your local park & rec association, or your local YMCA.
- Summer camp is a tax write off which rocks for all parents but especially rocks for freelance parents (great write-off).
Employ the kids – this is kind of a different option, but one I’ve been considering since my son started saying, “I want to be a blogger.” My son is too young yet and not a strong enough writer to blog, but my boyfriend’s oldest daughter is an excellent writer, likes blogging and wants a PT job. She could easily blog on her own. It’ll take you a day or so to get your older kids set up with a blog site, or to prep them to blog at a site you own, but for an interested kid this is a cool summer project and a way to make some possible revenue $.
Get your summer gigs lined up now – I know this is variable on the market, your job hunting skills and a ton of other stuff, but working, kid-care and looking for writing work adds up to crazy days. If you can manage it, get your summer gigs lined up and contracted before the summer kicks off, not after.
Need some tips?
- Finding blog gigs – starting out with no clips
- Online resume mistakes you may be making
- How to get a blogging job – advice from Deb Ng of FWJ
- How to bomb out all the time when looking for blogging jobs
Work fewer but MUCH longer days – I actually do this now but it’s a good summer strategy too. My son is with his dad on most Sundays and Mondays and my boyfriend makes sure that his kids are with their mom on most of those days as well. That leaves me two full days per week with zero kids. On those two days I work to the extreme. Because I work as a social media manager for a few clients, I have to work every day not just Sundays and Mondays, however, I can get a huge bulk of posts pre-scheduled for blog clients on those two days, as well as a lot of my own project stuff done leaving mostly just social media tasks Tues-Sat. At the end of those two days I’m a little beat, but it does mean I’ve got more time during the week to spend with the kids.
Now, I’m a single parent, so Cedar can go to his dad’s house obviously, but if you’re not, it’s not easy to send the kids somewhere for two days straight. What you can do though is arrange for some sort of care one or two days a week. Say, an overnight with a pal, a relative or simply a longer camp day. Do anything you can to get help for the bulk of two days, work ahead and then have more time the rest of the week.
Got guilt? It’s hard to have your kids gone for the bulk of a day or two, but you’ll feel better in the long run because you’ll have actual time with your kids when they are home vs. having to work. I hate when my son is here and I have to say, “Shhhhh – I have to work!” I’d rather have him gone for two long days, then get to spend five quality days with him. Actually, kids get this. I’m honest with Cedar about the schedule and he gets that if I don’t get two long days of work in, he’ll not get as much quality time with me on the days he is here.
Prep those kids for independence – If you’ve always been a catering parent, stop. Here’s an example, my friend’s kids won’t do anything for themselves. If they want cereal, a snack, juice, entertainment, a DVD put in and so on, their mama or dad does it, and that’s nice sure but one, these kids are over ten years old (um?). Two, kids who can’t do for themselves become a serious problem if you work at home. Three these parents complain, “I never have any time!” well duh. Don’t get me wrong, kids should get help but seriously, kids can very easily get an ice pop, clean up their own mess, fix an easy lunch and even entertain themselves sometimes. If you’ve been slaving for the kids, stop it now and everyone will be happier and more independent.
How do you manage kids + summer + freelance blogging?