Summer is amazing and so much fun, but it can be a little daunting when the kids are out of school and you’re still working from home. If you’re the only caretaker of these kiddos, you’ll need to figure out how to get your job done (without getting bugged during meetings) and still help the kids have a fun summer.
I have a few tips and tricks for you to survive summer break and keep your kids entertained without feeling like they have to be on screens all day. Some of these may take a little prep and planning ahead of time, but they will save your sanity when you need to focus on productivity.
1. Set a plan in advance.
Getting a routine together can make it a lot easier; kids will know what to expect when you schedule things for the day. If you have older children who should be working on chores or spending time reading, plan this out too. When they know what to expect, it will make life so much easier. Certain meeting times may require your kids to be quiet, so be sure to keep that in mind. This small amount of planning time can be so helpful in the long run! Routines set the expectations for a fun and productive summer.
2. Incorporate learning into the day.
Learning is always good to prevent the summer slide. Some fun and entertaining ways to do this:
- Set aside reading times
- Summer workbooks for the kids to do self-paced study
- Weekly or biweekly trips to the library to check out new books
- Print off creative writing topics
- Set a reward for the most creative drawing
- For your littlest ones, busytoddler.com has some awesome, low-prep ideas to keep kids that age educated and entertained.
3. Put together a crafting kit.
Be sure to get crafts that the kiddos can access themselves. Now, if you have preschool-age children, this may be a little more complicated as they need a lot more help. But for the older kiddos, they can check their schedule and see that it’s craft time.
A simple setup:
- Round up a bin with crafting supplies
- Organize with a workbook to help guide them through simple crafts
- Sensory bins are awesome for younger kids instead of full craft sets
4. Work outside and let your kids run around.
Yes, it’s hot. You might have Zoom meetings come up. But allowing the kids to let out some energy outside is going to help significantly so that they won’t go bananas inside. Maybe turn on the sprinklers. Get the water guns out and let them run around in the water to cool off. Outdoors can be a fun place to let the imagination run wild. Spray on a bit of bug spray, rub on the sunscreen, and make it a day of fun outdoors.
5. Try a co-op with other parents.
Coordinate with some other parents and try to form a co-op, where you can take turns watching kids…maybe take your lunch hour to watch your kids plus their kids, or maybe that happens after hours, and they can come during important meeting times to help watch your kids. This can be totally flexible, but odds are, even if you don’t know anyone yet, you can find some awesome neighbors who would be willing to take turns.
6. Look for summer camps and Vacation Bible School.
Many of these take place during the workday. Utilize drop-off camps to find quiet time for long stretches throughout the day. Some of these events are free and some of them get pricey, so be sure to budget what works best for you.
I know we all want to have our kids limited on screens, but the truth of the matter is that they’re probably going to need some time during the day to just veg out. And that’s okay; give yourself some grace. Try to save screen time for when you have an important meeting or something you really need to focus on. You can designate a few approved games on the computer or some pre-screened movies, so you don’t have to worry about what they are getting up to.
Sometimes my kids can get a little crazy when it’s time to turn the screens off. So, make sure that they have a timer set or that they understand this is a limited privilege; they don’t get unlimited screen time all day.
8. Help them find hobbies.
Hobbies can take the focus off bugging mom or dad for another snack and help you survive summer break. If they’re older, they may enjoy writing. They may enjoy puzzles. They might enjoy creating something or painting or art or music. Use the summertime to allow them to develop those gifts and help them understand the joy that comes from finding their own things to do within their interests.
9. Hire a college student as a babysitter.
A college student is typically going to be off during the summer. You can even find a homeschooled high school student or a high school student you trust who’s off during the summer as well. These people can take your kids to the park and get them out of the house for a couple of hours. If they can even just come one or two times a week, it will be so helpful. Usually, you can search for these new friends on your local Facebook group page.
10. Help your kiddo find ways to earn money.
This is a big motivator, especially as kids get older and really start to understand the concept of money. You can start with assigning them chores, and you can reward them with money. You can even help them come up with an idea of something to sell and launch their own business. Maybe you help them out on nights and weekends, and you give them projects to do throughout the days so that they can understand what it’s like to try to earn an income.
When I was little, I started a beading business. I made necklaces and bracelets and I sold them on Saturdays in my yard. Surprising my family, I made a lot of money that summer! I had to learn the concept of purchasing materials then trying to make sure I made my money back. It was super fun. These days, this could reach even more people, since we have a lot more ways to market that our kids are outside selling stuff (neighborhood groups, etc.). You’ll find that a lot of people in your neighborhood and community want to support kids trying to earn money.
Have a blast this summer!
There you have it, ten tips to help you survive this summer while working from home. Thankfully, many employers understand that we have a lot of distractions while at home but always try to set work boundaries. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help when you need it. We’re going to blink and it’ll be time to get ready to start another school year. In the moments when you’re not busy with work, make the most of your summer with fruit, popsicles, water, and FUN!