Organizing The Little People For Summer

My kids are jumping for joy that tomorrow is their last day of school and I must admit that I, too, am quite excited. No more waking up at the crack of dawn to get them to school and no more late night homework. My son has even gone so far as to create his own little summer schedule:

Week One: Sleep in, lay around the house in boxers, watch movies and drink soda until I puke

Week Two: Sleep in, lay around the house in boxers, play video games and drink soda until I puke

Week Three: Sleep in, lay around the house in boxers, play WoW and drink soda until I puke…but not next to dad’s computer

Week Four: Repeat Week One

Although, it’s nice to see that my 9-year old is taking after his ol’ mum by planning out his summer it’s not quite the summer I had planned for him. Since I work from the home it is IMPERATIVE that my kids are kept busy and have a space outside of my office to play, have fun, and stay busy. In order to get there, we have come up with a few simple things to keep everyone happy and hopefully keep the boredom to a minimum.

Secrets To A Successful Summer

1. Grandma is paying for cable for the summer. Not my idea of a wonderful solution, especially since I HATE having TV, but Grandma trumps Mom.

2. We have converted the 2-car garage into a TV and game room. It’s nothing permanent, but we laid out a couple of rugs, put a spare TV out in the garage, hooked up the PS2, set up a board game table, and wha-la instant “kid room”.

3. Every Thursday, the kids are going to Grandma’s to watch old classic movies aka Mom’s revenge for having cable. They are going to watch one to two classics a day and I am talking Sound of Music, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers all the wonderful movies that will slowly torture a 13 year old and 9 year old. I am LOVING it!

4. Every Saturday morning we are going to go to the bookstore and pick out one non-fiction picture book and learn about something new. From the picture book they can research more information from online, but it needs to start from a book. To help my son with his writing, unbeknownst to my son, he is going to write 3 little reasons why he wanted the book and 3 interesting tidbits he found in the book.

5. On Wednesday, we are scheduling an afternoon play date with their friends down at the community center so they can go rock climbing.

6. I am also putting the kids to work for me. They will each have some tedious chore that I hate to do like filing, putting together client files, data entry, all that lovely fun stuff that I can do without.

7. Every week they will need to write a letter to a friend or family member outside of the state. They have just inherited family from Canada and Scotland and I think it’s high time they learned the art of letter writing.

8. Chores around the house. They already have a set routine for normal chores so we’ll go ahead and keep it going throughout the summer. Kids love to have a routine and when they know they have specific things to do and a deadline, they actually do a pretty good job of getting it done with very little complaining.

9. Time Management. My daughter is going to be 14 this year and it’s high time she learned the art of time management. We have picked up a fun quirky agenda for her to use and she is going to start entering her entire summer schedule. From the basics of chores to social plans with friends and family.

10. Fun Stuff! No summer is complete without the normal movies, swimming, friends spending the night, and family road trips. We already have Pizza, Movie, Popcorn Night every Friday night, but we are also going to kick into the Game Master Tournament with boardgames. (Last time I won!) We keep a white board list of all of the games we play, who comes in what place, and at the end we tally it up and who ever wins must be called Game Master for a week. It’s quite fun and the kids love it.

Bottomline, keep the kids busy with a set “fun” routine and you will only hear “I’m bored” when they are doing their chores, hungry, or when they are just dying to be annoying!

Have a great summer and as always,

Happy Organizing!

Suzanne McLoone


School’s Out! Working at Home With Kids

Summer is here, and the kid’s are out of school, how are you going to manage working from home with all the extra noise and commotion? Depending on the type of telecommute position you have, mainly whether it is a position that involves phone calls, will determine if it is feasible to have your children around while you are working. If you have a home based job that requires you to be on the phone during work hours, chances are, you will need to have a second adult around the house as a sitter during your shift, or you will need to send your children to day care. If you have a telecommute job that only requires your presence via email or instant message capabilities, it can be a bit easier to juggle working with children around.

Phone Based Positions-

If you do have a position that requires phone work, and your children are too young to understand that you must have the house quiet, here are a few options for the summer that will allow you to work, and be somewhat cheaper than paying for traditional daycare.

Some alternatives for the summer when it comes to finding care for your children could be your local YMCA, which usually hosts summer programs that cover a good majority of the workday for parents that need a less costly alternative than paying full price for daycare. It may also be feasible to swap services with friends. If your job is part-time, you may be able to trade off on childcare during certain parts of the week, or hours of the day, or even swapping childcare for other services, like music lessons, running errands, etc.

There are many teens that are out of school for the summer as well who would welcome a babysitting job as a way to earn some money. Paying a 13 or 14 year old who is able to maturely care for children while you are working in the house could save you a bundle of money.

Non-Phone Positions-

If you have a home based job that does not require that you are available for phone calls, it can be easier to work with children around, however, don’t be fooled into thinking it will be a breeze, that you can just pop in a movie and give them a few snacks while you get your work done. Children tend to have the knack of requiring attention for one thing or another every few minutes. Pretty soon you will find that you have gotten up every five minutes to tend to their needs, and your productivity on the job has gone way down.

One of the best ways I have found to get my work done while taking care of children at the same time, is to follow a strict schedule. Children thrive on a schedule, and they will most likely need one coming from school to home for the summer. Make a schedule where you can work during their rest times, after they are in bed for the night or before they are awake in the morning. If your children are a little older, you could probably have a movie time during the afternoon where they do not disturb you. Also consider setting up an agreement with one of your neighbors who have children. Perhaps they could have your children over for x days during the week in exchange for you having their kids over on certain days or at specific times.

Enrolling your children in summer programs is also a great option for getting kids out of the house at set times each day, and can provide you with a block of time for getting your work done.

Whether your work at home job requires you to have a quiet work area, or allows a little more flexibility, summer can still become a hectic time for working with children out of school. Scheduling, and making sure you have proper support in place such as daycare or babysitting services will make all the difference between a great summer, and one where you can’t wait for the kids to go back to school!

Summer Learning Activities For the Whole Family

Do you remember those times last summer when the relentless sound of “I’m bored.” made you count the days until the start of the new school year? Most kids celebrate the beginning of summer vacation but, too often, run out of things to do before the summer ends. The resulting restlessness and boredom can lead to fights among siblings and way too much screen time. A clever parent who has good survival skills knows that having a plan in place at the start of vacation is the key to a peaceful summer. I recommend you include family activities that are local, inexpensive, and educational. Reading and local trips are available that entertain and educate all family members.

Reading is an inexpensive way to involve children in new learning experiences. Library books are free and attending library activities provides opportunities for children to learn while socializing with other children. The act of reading expands one’s knowledge base, increases fluency and vocabulary, decreases screen time, and develops a broader understanding of the world outside our local environment. Reading a good story aloud to siblings can be the foundation for dramatic imaginative play activities, art, and discussions.

We are fortunate to live in a community that provides many opportunities to learn more about history, nature, and climate. We have Vasquez Rocks just down the road where families can hike and learn more about California history, geology, and view the clear night time sky through telescopes. We have an abundance of local nurseries where families can learn about our weather and climate by studying the growing habits and temperature requirements of the various trees, flowers, and shrubs. In addition, there are many hiking trails in the surrounding green belt areas that provide additional opportunities for studying nature while getting some physical activity. Our city also provides very low fee park and recreation activities that provide opportunities engage in art, music, and sports classes.

Just remember, in the end, it’s all about learning while you are having fun. The ultimate goal is to make time for the whole family while reducing sibling squabbles and reliance upon television and computers for entertainment. So get the family together, involve everyone in the decision making, and beat summer boredom by learning together.