Today marks the first day of summer vacation in Volusia County, and for those of us who are both freelancers and parents, this typically means we need to find ways to spend more quality time with our kids.

The flexibility of freelancing is such a gift when it allows you to take the time to indulge in a family morning at the beach or an afternoon matinee. But there’s only so many hours in a day, and when you’re torn between devoting more time and energy to your children while still keeping up with your work deadlines, it’s almost enough to make you long for the days of traditional employment.

Work-life balance has always been my biggest challenge as a freelancer, and there is no time that the struggle is more real than summer. So here are a few strategies I’ve found that help make my summers run just a little more smoothly.

  1. Set office hours. By setting a clear schedule and sticking to it, you’ll make the most of your time as a freelancer and time as a parent without that nagging feeling that you should be spending time on one when you’re with the other. Be sure to communicate your summer office hours with your regular clients and set vacation responses for your voicemail and email if you’ll be gone for the day.
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  2. Designate a work space. Not only is it more helpful to focus where it’s peaceful and private, but it helps create a boundary between your work and home life. Even if the rest of your house is in chaos, try to keep your work space organized.
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  3. Arrange for childcare. It took me a while to embrace this tip. After all, the whole reason I quit my full time job was to be a full time mom. But whether it’s arranging regular child swaps with fellow at-home parents, scheduling weekly visit with grandparents, hiring an in-home babysitter, or enrolling them in day camps or preschool, everyone will benefit when you allow yourself uninterrupted time to work while your children are actively being cared for.
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  4. Become a night owl (or an early bird). Depending on whether you’re more focused in the morning or at night, set aside an hour or two to work while the rest of the world sleeps. Uninterrupted work time is gold for a freelancer, and by setting your alarm early or staying up late, not only is your house quiet, but you won’t be distracted by incoming client calls or emails.
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  5. Get out of the house. Two things—first, giving your kids a morning out or an afternoon to look forward to should make them more content to let you work while you’re home. And second, if you’re going to be exhausted, it’s a lot easier to be exhausted at the beach, especially if you’ve arranged a play date with good friends.
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  6. Make lists to help you prioritize. Before you go to bed each night, create a realistic list of items you need to accomplish the next day. Not only will it help you stay organized so you don’t miss anything, but it will help you plan your day and keep you motivated as you check things off.
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  7. Work ahead. This one can be difficult when your time is limited, but by working ahead of your deadlines, you’ll allow yourself some wiggle room for the unexpected.
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  8. Take a break. In addition to caring for your clients and your little ones, be sure to schedule some time for yourself. Whether it’s as simple as indulging in an afternoon nap or planning an overnight trip with your girlfriends, it’s good to recharge your batteries every once in a while.
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  9. Give in to the chaos. Guilt has no place in summer survival. Worried that your kids are having too much screen time? Is your house a disaster? Are you hitting the McDonald’s drive through for dinner…again? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This is a temporary situation, so just power through and focus on what’s most important.
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  10. Make a plan for fall. If you’re anything like me, it’s when you’re at your busiest that you think of all the things you’d love to do if you weren’t so swamped. Keep track of your ideas and set up a plan so when school starts back up, you’ll be able to hit the ground running with all your new-found free time!

 

It’s not always easy to balance work and home life in the summer, but with a bit of planning, you’ll be able to survive it while keeping both your clients and your family happy. And who knows, you might just find time to enjoy yourself this summer too!