Remote work has become increasingly common, which brings a unique challenge for parents: keeping your kids entertained while juggling professional responsibilities during summer break. The goal is to strike a balance between working and spending quality time with your kids during these months.
In this post, we will explore creative and engaging strategies to help you entertain your children while also trying to work from home, ensuring they have a fun-filled summer while you meet your work obligations. It won’t be perfect (nothing involving children usually is), but we will give you the tips and tricks we’ve used over the years to make it as smooth as possible.
Establish a Schedule: Setting a structured schedule will help you manage your time effectively, and it will let your children know what to expect in their day as well. Plan dedicated blocks for work, breaks, meal times, and family activities. Involve your children in creating this schedule, so they feel engaged and have a sense of ownership. Print it out and post it on the refrigerator or on your home office door (if you have one). If they can’t yet read, use pictures to symbolize the sequence of events for their day.
Having a routine will provide stability and make transitions between work and play smoother. But remember to be flexible – if something isn’t working, go back to the drawing board and try again. If you need help creating a schedule, check out some great templates here!
Utilize Virtual Learning and Entertainment: Use educational online resources to engage your children during particularly crucial work hours. Online platforms offer a wide range of educational games, puzzles, audio books, documentaries, and virtual tours that cater to different age groups.
No matter the age of your child, there is something to learn – from letters and numbers, math, and new languages to coding, art, or oceanography. These activities not only entertain but also promote learning and personal growth. Here is a great list of options to get you started. Some charge a nominal fee, but many are free! (a word of warning: ensure that any devices your child is using – particularly outside of your direct supervision – is properly secured from access to harmful content)
Create a Special Workspace: Choose a space in your home as a dedicated workspace for your children. It can be an entire room or just a special corner. If there is room, set up a small desk with art supplies, puzzles, books, or educational games. Install a hanging chair if possible, or use pillows or bean bag chairs on the floor. This is where they can engage in virtual learning or more creative, hands-on activities while you work nearby. When the scheudule indicates that it is time to learn or create, they will know exactly where to go.
Encourage Independent Play: Encouraging times of independent, screen-free play is essential for fostering creativity and problem-solving skills. Incorporate age-appropriate toys, instruments, building blocks, or puzzles in their workspace or throughout the home that can keep them engaged while you focus on work. Be sure to rotate toys to maintain their interest, and occasionally introduce new activities or challenges to spark their imagination. Also encourage them to head outside to see what adventures await in their backyard.
Engage in Collaborative Projects: Find activities that allow you to work alongside your children. When the work day is over, engage in art projects, such as painting or crafting, where you can work on your tasks while your children create their own masterpieces. You can also involve them in gardening, cooking, or organizing projects that promote teamwork and foster their sense of accomplishment.
Plan Outdoor Adventures: Make the most of the weather by planning outdoor activities during lunch breaks or after work during the long summer hours. Explore local parks, have a picnic on the porch, take a bike ride, hang some hammocks for reading, rent a kayak, have a campfire, or just throw a frisbee. These outdoor adventures will help your children expend their energy and provide a refreshing break for you as well.
Research Local Day Camps: If your budget allows, don’t hesitate to consider options outside of the home. Most cities offer a wide variety of summer day, half day, or sleepover camps for a wide variety of ages and interests. You can find almost anything: sports camps, science camps, theatre camps, music camps, princess camps, Harry Potter camps, art camps, YMCA camps, church camps, nature camps, the list goes on… Prices differ greatly depending on the camp and your location, but there are often very affordable options available.
Choosing a handful of these camps throughout the summer can provide variety for your children and a few coveted hours of daily, dedicated work time for you. If you’d like to see what’s offered in your area, simply talk to other parents, inquire in local online groups, or do a search for “summer camps near me.”
Consider Hiring Help: Know of a college kid down the road? A son or daughter of a friend who would like to earn some extra money? Maybe a family member who would like to spend time with your family? Consider hiring summer help.
While a full-time summer nanny can be pricy, hiring someone to care for your kids for just a few hours a day or even a couple of days a week can often be more affordable. Any urgent business or important meetings can be scheduled during those times when the children are being tended by someone else. This is a great option for parents (or kids) who aren’t interested in or comfortable with camps.
Prioritize Quality Time: No matter how you choose to structure your summer, be sure to schedule in periods of quality time with your children. Time when screens and work are not allowed. Plan special moments for bonding, such as reading, playing games, or having a family pizza/movie night. You could even consider making a summer bucket list of things you’d like to do before school starts again and put those on the calendar.
These intentional interactions will strengthen your relationship and make your children feel valued and loved. It’s worth noting that you don’t need to worry too much about what you actually plan. No matter the activity, your children will just be happy to have your undivided attention.
Balancing work and parenting during the summer season may present its challenges, but with a bit of planning and creativity, you can create a healthy environment for both productivity and fun. By incorporating some of these strategies and setting realistic expectations, you can (usually) entertain your children while (mostly) successfully fulfilling your work commitments.
It won’t always be easy, and there will be days when it feels like you aren’t doing work OR parenting very well. When those days come, remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can and allow yourself grace to try again tomorrow.
Have a great summer!