I’m often asked, when people find out that I’m a blogger and a mom and a homeschooler, how I get any work done. As summer approaches, I know many other mom bloggers are wondering how they are going to keep up blogging with the kids at home. So, along with four other moms and bloggers, I’m sharing my summer survival tips for work-at-home moms (or how I manage to write 5 posts a week while the girls are running around the house).
Encourage Independent Play
I’ve actually found that blogging has been easier this year while I’ve been homeschooling. The reason for it? The girls play really well together (and homeschooling has helped that). My secret to blogging frequently is helping them learn to play independently (or together) and using quiet times to encourage that.
Some kids are good at entertaining themselves. Lily is one of those. When Sunshine was at preschool, Lily would disappear into her room and play quietly with her stuffies until it was time to go get Sunshine again. I was guaranteed a couple hours of quiet to write, and Lily enjoyed having a bit of time to do whatever she wanted without Sunshine telling her what to do. I still often see her off in her own world of play, whether we’re at home or at the park or swimming pool, and I enjoy watching her entertain herself with whatever story she’s telling. (Maybe she’ll be a writer someday…)
Sunshine is the opposite. She’s the child to come up to me asking, “Mommy, what can I do?” or “Mommy, will you do this with me?” For her, it helps to have a list of ideas to suggest, even though she usually discards them; then I check her room and ask her to clean it up and she’ll keep herself busy there for several hours (without doing much cleaning). She’s good at organizing her sisters into a game of something, whether it’s dress up or playing with their stuffies or racing their HotWheels.
Implement Quiet Time
Quiet times have helped them learn to play by themselves better. I have a friend who implemented a quiet time when her son stopped napping; during what had previously been nap time, he could play quietly in his room. This is great if younger siblings are still napping, as it keeps the house quiet. It also helps encourage quiet, imaginary play. The girls have a few toys in their rooms for this, including PlayMobile, LEGO, dolls, stuffies, or books (using the Sparkup Reader if they aren’t reading themselves yet).
I don’t use a daily quiet time but rather implement it as its needed. Some days, the girls get into a game or new toy and spend all day entertaining themselves, while I just serve snacks and write and do the housework. Other days, they seem to have woken up on the wrong side of bed and need a bit of help getting along. That’s a good day for a quiet time, as usually a bit of time playing by themselves helps them play better with each other.
Quiet time is not a punishment; it’s just a recognition that maybe they’ve seen a bit too much of each other lately and need some time apart. I’m an introvert, so I’ve come to recognize that I need a bit of space at times or else I get grumpy. Lily takes after me, though she’s still learning to express that, so suggesting a quiet time can help her calm down and be ready to play again. And it’s a good chance to encourage Sunshine (my social butterfly who’d love to have friends over all day every day) to learn to play by herself.
Give Them Time First
That’s not to say, of course, that I just ignore my kids all day long. We play each day by ear. When I’m homeschooling, we usually spend parts of the morning together working on school. If they aren’t homeschooling, we plan something else together, like a craft or trip to the park. If I’ve given them some time with me before I start work, then they are usually happier to find ways to entertain themselves while I’m writing.
I find it’s a balance between doing things together and doing things on our own, and both are good for all of us. Staring at a computer for too long isn’t good for me, so having an excuse to read a book or do some baking with them provides a nice break. If you’re just starting the summer out, it might take a few weeks to find that balance and recognize what your kids need. And they, of course, need to adjust to being at home after being in school.
My biggest tip: go with the flow and take advantage of times to work. Right now I’m working on scheduling my blog posts at least a week ahead, as I find that gives me more flexibility each day. Some days, as I mentioned, the girls will ignore me and play happily all day long. Other days, they need a bit more attention from me. If I can be flexible, instead of glued to a post deadline, then we’re all happier.
I’m always thinking about what to blog, so that when they are busy, I can sit down and just write. And I find a blog schedule also helps keep my on track, as I look at my schedule, see what I need to write, and do it.
For more summer survival tips for work-at-home moms, check out these other bloggers:
What summer survival tips for work-at-home moms would you share?