In part 1 of this blog I offered some tips to start you thinking about how to prepare for a more balanced summer between spending time with the kids and completing your work well. Today I’d like to offer some ideas to get you thinking about practical ways to achieve this life balance.
Moms who work outside the home have a special challenge during the summer months. There’s the pull to enjoy our kids while they are at home and carefree without the stress of school and sports but then there’s work that still has to be done. I talked about the importance for your workplace to strategically plan ahead and come up with win-win solutions for work that will permit more time at home with your kids yet still meet your deadlines and responsibilities. Once you nail down any adjustments of when and where you will work and who you might job-share with for the summer, you’ve tackled part of the solution. But how do we balance kids and still get work done during these unique months? I certainly don’t have all the answers, but after several years of thinking through the biblical framework on this (for The Life Ready Woman bible study), and navigating this summer after summer, I have some suggestions.
First, give yourself permission to realize that the summer is just going to be messy – and that’s okay. Like dirty diapers and toddler tantrums, it’s part of the badge of honor of motherhood – and it’s all part of what you’ll look back on with fondness in twenty years!
Second, use technology to the fullest. Yes, it feels weird (“am I being a bad mom?”) when I take my laptop to the pool and write an article while my kids splash around. Or when I check my email while I’m sitting at the park watching the kids on the swings. But you know what? Sometimes, using those little interludes in the cracks of the day to respond quickly to something strategic can save hours of time later. As long as you are careful to not be constantly on your smartphone and not really “there” with your kids, I personally think smartphones are fantastic allies for the working mom.
Third, assume the ‘workday’ might be completely different in the summer. For example: I love having time with my kids during the day, so I end up writing a lot at night, when the kids are in bed. Maybe for you, your husband is able to take the kids and go fishing on Saturday, while you get a long day of work in. Think creatively!
Fourth, remember why you’re doing it: so many more options for quality time with your kids this summer! So don’t let it slip away. Be super-intentional about what you are doing with your kids – even if it’s unstructured playtime – so that you don’t let the days slip away. There’s nothing wrong with them having a super-intense Wii game for an hour while you catch up on a book, or a nap. But it’s so tempting for a tired working mom to let the Wii be followed by the computer by the book by the solo game of legos and soon the afternoon is almost done and you didn’t actually do much with your kids. Make all your intentionality with work count by being intentional in your time with your children.
The idea is to brainstorm, working within your unique job and home parameters, to come up with viable solutions. Then present those ideas to your boss or work leadership in a professional manner, showing them that it can create a ‘win/win’ for everyone. It can be done. It’s prioritizing, it’s time management, it’s smart working, and it’s being creative with our time. It’s a choice. One that is tough but the smiles on those little faces make it all worthwhile. I’d love to hear your ideas. For those of you who do work during the summer, how do you juggle this delightful but unusual time of year?
Best-selling author of several books including The Life Ready Woman , Shaunti Feldhahn is looking forward to a fun-filled summer of family time while balancing her demanding writing schedule.