With education standards being over the moon these days it is hard work keeping grades up, participating in extracurriculars, and saving time for the neighborhood playdate. My opinion is that the children deserve these breaks. Ever since my husband started working in retail, we don’t travel during the holidays as a rule. It’s much easier to schedule time in other, less busy months. And while we have plenty of summeradventures, finding things to do in the dark winter months can be tricky.
When one parent works from home full-time it takes some effort on everyone’s part to make it successful — after all, in our house it is what allows the kids to have relaxing school breaks versus being in camps full time. I’m super grateful that I can solely support my family, and my husband is the best stay-at-home-dad on the planet. They all do a great job of keeping busy, but they also deserve some downtime at home to spend time with friends, each other, and after the holidays, some new toys and gadgets.
I thought I’d list a few tricks that work for us and help me maintain that work/life balance during school breaks.
- Expect an Adjustment Period – Going from a completely quiet house for a solid 7 hours each day, to having 3 people (plus friends) there a lot of the time takes some getting used to on everyone’s part. I let them know each morning when I have calls scheduled, and those that are with clients and therefore need a little more privacy. Often they’ll work errands or outings into these times to leave the house a bit quieter. When the children are feeling rambunctious, I plug the headphones in and am glad if I’m not on the phone!
- Don’t Judge – I think I do a pretty good job of not telling my husband what to do with his time just because I happen to be there. He also is a fan of lists and constructive things to do-it turns out he’s quite handy! He usually has a running list of normal everyday things that need to get done like laundry, dishes, etc. But, when I do catch him laying on the couch watching 90210, I don’t judge. I truly believe he has the more difficult job between the two of us, and kudos to him for taking a break when he needs one.
- Don’t Schedule Time for the Other – My husband wouldn’t dream of scheduling activities for my precious evening free-time, so if there is an activity or camp I think the kids would like, I run it by him first. Even with carpooling, shuttling kids around requires logistics and can be tiring. I like to make sure it’s how all of them want to spend their time.
- Remind Yourself Why it Works – I keep a list next to my desk of the things that I love about working from home. When things get hectic, or it’s a particularly long day in the office, I refer to it to keep me grounded where I need to be in that moment: at work!
- Have Fun – One of my favorite evening activities is to pack a quick dinner of sandwiches, fruit, chips and drinks and head to the pool. When we arrive at about 5:30 many people are leaving after an afternoon of fun, and the lines for slides and diving boards are typically shorter. I focus on the kids, re-connect and share about our days, and keep cool in the process. If I was commuting even 30 minutes, these trips would be difficult, as the pool does eventually close each evening!
With the added busyness that the holidays bring for all of us, it might be a little more challenging to stay on track, but a lot of these tips can work for all seasons. For example, packing sandwiches and going to the indoor pool is a great way to burn off extra energy in the hours of darkness each evening. Going to the pottery studio and painting gifts for parents or grandparents is a great way to get some together time for one parent, while the other works, or catches up on chores.Whatever the season, working from home can be a challenge, but for me the trade-offs are more than worth it!