Need Some Summer Scheduling Help Now That The Kiddos Are Home From School?
From Julie Anne Jones:
I've been working from home for about thirteen years, most of that time as a single mom. Summer has always been something I look forward to and dread all at the same time. I still get that excited feeling in the pit of my stomach (just like I did when I was a kid) during this time of year, when we start counting down single digit days until school is out (as of today, it's 1!).
I love the weather, activities, and the chance to spend time with my boys in a carefree world with no real deadlines or school activities demanding our attention (or that I nag them to finish their homework). On the other hand, Summer has always been a challenge for me because I'm not independently wealthy, so I can't take a three month vacation from my business.
So I thought I'd give you some of my best tips for keeping your sanity during the summer, when your house is busy, your kids demand more of your attention, and your schedule changes (so the way you work does, too). If you happen to still be in the trenches as a mom of younger kids, here are a few ideas that might support you.
1. Let Go of The Guilt
You will never get to spend as much time as you would like with your kids during the summer, and many people allow themselves to feel guilty about this. Wait a second here. If you had to work at a full time J-O-B, would you be able to just take three months off to be with your kids in the summer? Heck no. So think about the fact that, even though you might not be spending every waking hour with your precious littles, at least you're there when they need you and you have the flexibility being self-employed brings.
2. You'll Need to Modify Your Schedule
Your "normal" school-year schedule probably won't work in the summer and you'll have to modify it. That's just a fact. You won't be able to work as many hours (at least not during the day), and you'll probably have to get creative. If you generally make calls in the afternoon and your children head to swimming lessons without you in the mornings, you'll want to reschedule your calls for the times you know you'll have peace and quite during the day. I knew exactly when Blues Clues was on when my boys were little, because I could be guaranteed 30 minutes of quiet during that show. You get the idea.
So just plan on being more flexible regarding when you work and realize that things may need to change on a moment's notice. Believe me, as someone who coaches direct sellers for a living, I always completely understand if a client asks to reschedule at the last minute if it's kid related. I work with moms. It happens.
3. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
You probably won't be able to work as many hours during the summer, so making the time you do spend in your office as productive as possible is essential. Make a plan at least once a week (if not every day) and decide ahead of time what your priorities are and what will get your time. If you get all of the big projects or commitments out of the way, you can always focus on the leftovers. But I've found if I don't have a plan, I start with the small stuff and then the big projects don't get done.
Likewise, make sure you're present when you're spending time with your kids. You can't be constantly interrupting your time with them to answer your cell phone or check e-mail. Trust me, they hate that and they'll resent it (and you.) Unplug and really give them your attention when you're spending time with them.
4. Make Your Work Time Play Time For Your Kids
Imagine how cool it would be if your kids actually looked forward to you going into your office to work. Here are a few simple ways to possibly encourage that feeling in them:
Find ways for your kids to get involved in your business (putting stickers on catalogs, putting together host packets, etc.) and reward them for their participation. Have a special box of toys that they are only allowed to play with when you're working. This one is great. They'll actually be begging you to work! I'm sure there are more creative ideas. These are just a few I used when my kids were little.
5. Create Accountability for Yourself
Print out your schedule and hang it in a community place in your home, like your refrigerator. Now gather your family around and let them know that this is your schedule, and that you're as committed to NOT working during the times not listed as you are to working during the times outlined for work. Then, if you're really brave, ask your kids to hold you accountable by giving them permission to ask you to stop working if you're in your office during a time that's not on your calendar as office hours. Believe me, kids LOVE to catch you doing something you're not supposed to be doing and they'll definitely call you on it, especially if you ask them to.
Finally, if something comes up that you need to do during the time you've scheduled to work for that day, be sure to go to your calendar right away and "pay yourself back" the time you're borrowing from yourself. If you don't, the work activity you've scheduled for that day won't get done and you'll find yourself getting behind.
I no longer have to worry much about this issue. My oldest son Sam is 17 and driving, and he and his brother Eli (who is 14) are great buddies so they spend lots of time together. They're really independent, responsible kids (for the most part), have cell phones, and check in when they're not here (a hard and fast rule with us).
For me, the days of hanging out with my kids, going for bike rides as a family, or heading to the pool for the day are pretty much history ("Nothing personal, Mom, but we'd really rather go hang out with our buddies or ride long boards"). Last summer I ended up asking them when they'd be home so we could spend some time together instead of them wanting me to stop working to do the same for them. Honestly, it's a little bittersweet. So my best advice is this: If you do have little ones, enjoy them. It seems like yesterday that mine were pulling on my shorts and nagging me to come play. Truth be told, I miss that time in our lives more and more every day. Don't take one minute of it for granted and when in doubt, take a break and give them some time. I wish I'd done more of that when I had the chance.
Julie Anne Jones is a direct sales corporate consultant, coach, and trainer, and the CEO of Julie Anne Jones, Inc. She is known for her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and specializes in specific language and tools for success in direct sales. To learn more about Julie Anne and her products and services, and to read her weekly blog posts, visit her at www.julieannejones.com.