Ah summer, my favorite season. Warmer days, longer nights, pool, and lake time. The kids are out of school and I dream about all the fun things we are going to do. This summer we are going to do it all I declare.
But then I panic. Sheer anxiety interrupts my daydream. I am a writer, a blogger, and I run a business. How am I going to manage that while the kids are on summer break?
Before a complete meltdown set in I knew I had to get a plan together and fast. You see my kids are at an age where we can do cool stuff this summer. I created this blog so I could have the free time to spend with them and not stick them in daycare while I slaved away at work.
I knew I had to create a balance between work and my kids. It’s an ongoing practice for me. I know there are weeks that are more kid heavy and weeks that are more heavy on the work side. I know for the next 8 weeks or so, my life will be more kid heavy and I need my blog to work around that schedule.
Are you feeling the same pull? You want to spend more time with your kids, but you want your blog to keep running? Here are my 9 tips to help you balance the two as best you can.
1. Make a Summer Schedule
I am a big planner. My lists have lists. So I knew the first thing I needed to do was create a summer schedule for myself and the kids. Now it being summer I didn’t want to make it too rigid. The entire school year is dedicated to a rigid schedule. But I wanted to make sure my blogging time was in our summer schedule. If I don’t schedule my blogging activities, including writing, they don’t get done.
Here’s what my schedule looks like this summer:
There is one thing that I don’t show on this schedule. Grace. I give myself grace when it doesn’t go according to plan. Today for example, I slept in and didn’t work on my blog post. It felt good and my body needed the break. Giving yourself grace with your schedule makes you more likely to stick to it instead of hating it.
Oh focus. You and I have a battle every day don’t we? Followed closely by your cousin self-discipline.
Here is what I do when I write a blog post.
- Check Facebook one last time before I start.
- Write my outline
- Check Facebook again
- Write my opening intro, “think” I’m stuck, check email.
- Get lost in the rabbit hole of email. Then go back to my post.
- Write a bit more and check Facebook for the 14th time today.
I wish I had a zapper for every time I strayed away from what I am supposed to be working on! But I realized if I have ANY shot of sticking to my schedule and enjoying time with my kids, I had to focus on the task at hand.
That means no Facebook and no email until I write the draft for my blog post. That means writing in 30 minute increments and giving myself a 5 minute break. That means being a grown up and realizing the more I focus, the easier it is to get the task done.
But I still wouldn’t mind that zapper. 😉
Setting boundaries is something else I struggle with. I have worked at home for 10 years now. People always say to me “I could never work at home because I would do laundry or clean the kitchen.”
Well I have the opposite problem. I am terrible at turning the work off.
Sure I can walk away from the computer when nap time is over, but then I take my handy iPhone with me everywhere I go. I check my Facebook group, I see if I have new email subscribers, or blog comments. I research new ways to drive traffic or new marketing ideas.
Before I know it I am wrapped up in work and snapping at my kids who just want my attention. That very attention I want to pour on them. The irony is not lost on me here. I am building a business that works around their schedule and not vice versa. Yet here I am putting the work ahead of their needs.
So I have to set boundaries, follow the designated work schedule I set out, and stick to it. This way I can enjoy the time with my kids to the fullest and not feel like a crappy mom.
4. Cut Back on Posting
If you are posting more than three days a week on your blog, I suggest cutting back on that during the summer. Heck, I don’t think that is a good idea anyway, but especially not during the summer.
If you try to keep up with a demanding posting schedule while your kids are home you will get frustrated. Unless you have outside help, you can’t write that often and spend quality time with your kids. I tried this and it was terrible. My content was awful and my mothering was not good.
Give yourself a break, enjoy your kids this summer, and cut back on your posting schedule! Let your readers know you are still blogging, just not as much during the summer. They will understand and respect you for it.
And hey, you might find that once school starts again that you like the lighter posting schedule. It might be just the thing to put a zip back into your writing!
5. Get Sleep
I made a startling confession to my best friend, Marci, last week. I like love getting up early now. Her gasp of shock made me realize how huge this is.
Up until a couple of years ago, I was a grown woman, mother of three, that loved to stay up until 1, 2, sometimes 3am working. I loved working while everyone was asleep and the house was quiet. I came alive about 9pm every night and my husband would say, “Guess it’s going to be a late night for you.”
But then one day it caught up with me. I couldn’t do it anymore. I would stay up late and was crabby the next day. I wasn’t at my best for my kids. My writing started to suffer. With the lack of sleep I found that I couldn’t think right and it was no longer worth it. So I started to go to bed at 10pm like normal people and get up early like normal people.
The result? I am happier, more productive, and enjoy my life more. Now if you would have told 30-year-old me that, I would have laughed at you. But with age comes wisdom and part of that wisdom includes getting a good night’s sleep.
And Marci, I know I can hardly believe I am writing this either. What happened to me?!
6. Look for Fringe Hours
Now that I am a grown up and get sleep, I have discovered I love the fringe hours! Fringe hours are the bonus hours you can work while your family is doing something else. I can get up at 5am and get two hours of work done before I am called to be a wife and a mom. Those are my favorite two hours every day! The house is quiet, I got a good night’s sleep, and once the coffee kicks in I am firing on all cylinders.
But the morning hours aren’t my only fringe hours. I also do blog tasks during certain times of the day. At lunch I let the kids watch TV and I do some work then. While my youngest is napping, my girls spend the first 30 minutes doing their own thing while I work. If we go to the park I will take that time to catch up on social media.
There are many different times during the day where my kids don’t need me. They are playing together or doing their own thing. During this time I will focus on easy blog tasks. It helps me stay on track without feeling like I am ignoring my kids.
7. Get a Babysitter
Mondays are my favorite day of the week. Crazy right?! Mondays are the one day a week I have a nanny come into my house to care for my kids.
I get a much-needed break from the kids (hey, I’m not super mom!) and the kids get interaction with someone besides their parents. I get to work in peace and quiet and focus on the big tasks at hand.
If you are struggling to find extra time, look at bringing in a babysitter if your budget allows it. Maybe you need a full day like me. Or maybe you can get by with three hours on Monday afternoon. There isn’t a law that says just because you stay home with your kids, that you can’t bring in help once in a while. You will be better off for it and so will your kids.
If you can’t fit a sitter into your budget, is there a mom in your area you can trade with? My best friend and I take turns watching each other’s kids so we can go on date nights with our husbands. Try to find another mom blogger in your area that you connect with and take turns helping each other out.
8. Ask your Spouse for Help
There is no shame whatsoever in asking for your husband’s help. If you need a break to work on your blog, ask your husband for help! My husband and I have an agreement that if I need a night off to write, he will come home from work and takeover. I leave the house right when he gets there and he is in charge of dinner and bedtime. When things get really busy we do this once a week. As an added bonus it gives my husband some one-on-one time with the kids. And they love to soak up their dad’s attention making it a win-win for all!
If you need the help ask your husband. He isn’t going to know you need help unless you ask. And don’t feel guilty about it either! Don’t forget you are at home with your kids and that is work all by itself. You have spent the time with them so now go spend some time on you.
9. Join a Gym
I joined a gym to exercise and lose weight, but there is an added benefit I didn’t realize at first. The kids daycare at the gym. Oh how I love that place!
When you drop your kids off they always ask you where you are going to be. One day the woman in front of me said “The Cafe.” I said “Wait a minute, hold the phone. It’s okay to drop the kids off and sit in the gym’s cafe?” They replied “We don’t care what you do, as long as you don’t leave the building.”
The gym daycare allows us to drop off our kids for a couple of hours everyday. So three days a week I go to the gym to workout. The other two days? I go there to work on my business. I drop them off, head to the café and pound away on the keyboard. The added bonus that relieves my guilt is the kids love it there! They get to run around like crazy and hang out with other kids their age.
If you belong to a gym already try this! It is an amazing two hours! If you don’t belong to a gym, check out this idea. It has really given me a ton of time back in my work schedule and my kids an opportunity to do something fun.
Working at home while the kids are out of school is tough! You want to scale back to spend time with them but you don’t want your blog to die. By setting a schedule with focus and boundaries you can find a good balance of family and work. Taking the time to work in the fringe hours will help you get the small blogging tasks done. And don’t be afraid to ask for help! Your work is important too and you deserve to have time to do it. By following these simple ideas you will enjoy your kids, your summer, and have a strong blog to go back to in the fall!
Your turn: What do you do to balance blogging and spending time with your kids? Do you have any tips you can share with us? Please share them in the comments below!