How to Work from Home When School is Out


    For business owners who work from home, trying to get a full work day in while the kids are out of school can be difficult and unproductive. No matter how old your children are, trying to juggle business and family is a struggle without the structure of the school year.

    We talked to eight business owners to get their best tips on how to balance work and family when school is out for the summer.

    One of the benefits of running your own business is not needing to stick to a traditional nine-to-five schedule. In the summer when the kids are home, embracing this flexibility can be the best way to get work done.

    “Work during non-business hours at night or early in the morning,” recommended Ramon Kahn, the online marketing director for National Air Warehouse, whose kids are 9 and 12 years old. “You can get a lot of work done during those times before your kids wake up or while they are asleep.”

    You can also break your work day into irregular blocks of time when you know your children will be busy, rather than working for a straight eight hours. “Plan ahead for the time slots when kids are busy and you know you’ll be able to work without distractions, whether it’s six hours at camp, one hour of screen time or a two-hour playdate,” said Sharon Woodhouse, the owner of Everything Goes Media and parent of an 8-year-old.

    “Know what you need to get done and what you can get done in that time … then discipline yourself to do it.”

    If your kids know what to expect, they are much more likely to let you get work done, said Nicole Johnson, the president and founder of The Baby Sleep Site. Johnson, whose boys are 10 and 12 years old, has worked at home for the past 15 years, including seven summers without school.

    “Set their expectations [that] you can’t play all day and have a schedule set up from the beginning,” she recommended. “We have breakfast and lunch together, but I let them know which hours I’ll be working and which hours they’ll need to fend for themselves.”

    From the beginning of the summer, talk to your kids about what their day will look like and when you need to work. Make it clear when you cannot be interrupted, either verbally, by being in your workspace, or by setting up a sign that displays the time you’ll be free to play once more.

    Susan Miller, the founder of Garton-Miller Media, has spent five summers working at home with her kids, now teenagers, around. She agreed that clear expectations are key to keeping everyone happy during the day. “Lay down the rules to explain that even though mom [or] dad is home, they are working … unless it’s an emergency [like] someone is bleeding from the head, you are not to be disturbed except at certain times of the day.”

    And remember to set clear expectations with your clients or co-workers as well as with your family. If your availability for phone calls or responding to emails changes during the summer, communicate that to everyone you work with to avoid frustration and confusion.

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