Summer Survival Tips for Mom-preneurs

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School’s out for summer. That may mean lazy, hazy days for our children. But for us mom-preneurs, it usually means crazy days filled with more work, not less.

Don’t get me wrong; I was looking forward to summer almost as much as my kids were. Long, sunny days. Playing at the spray park. Weekend cookouts. But the reality has also meant more time in the car driving the kids to different activities every day and less time working on my business.

During the school year, I had a nice routine that worked well for my kids and for me. Since my son was only four and too young to ride the bus (the school district’s rule, not mine), I had to drive the kids to and from school daily. This meant an hour and a half to two hours in the car every day, more if my high school daughters had an after-school activity. But I still got a solid six hours to dedicate to work every day. Knowing that my time was limited, I usually found it easy to focus on work, even working from home. The laundry and dishes could wait until the kids were home from school. Work couldn’t wait. So I got it done.

Between day camps, sports and music lessons, I’m lucky if I get three solid (child-free) hours of work a day now. I knew I’d be working less, but I didn’t anticipate how much less and how difficult it would be to adjust to a new routine.

To make the summer months enjoyable for everyone in the family—and to maintain my sanity as much as possible—I had to get some control back over my time. I had to find a way to have fun without shuttering my business for three months. I came up with four keys to making the most of my time, staying productive and still have a fun summer.

Start every day with a plan.

I plan my day over breakfast every morning during the school year. And this habit has been invaluable during the summer. Before you start your day, plan out exactly what you’re going and when you’re going to do it. Write it down. You probably already have major events and appointments in your calendar. Write it out on a sticky note every day if that helps you stay focused and on track. Don’t just schedule work and appointments. Schedule play time, meals and housework. Then stick to your schedule. Of course, you can be flexible and spontaneous and make changes to your schedule when something comes up. But if that something doesn’t involve taking your kids out for ice cream or going to an outdoor concert, then don’t change it. What I mean is, honor your time by doing things when you plan them. If you schedule work time in the morning, don’t end up doing the laundry.

Do one thing—and only one thing at a time.

You know the saying, “Be here now.” Being fully present in whatever you’re doing is important all year long. But it is essential during times, such as the summer, when you feel as if you have nowhere near enough time to do everything you’d like to do. These are the times we usually end up multitasking. Resist that temptation. Do only what you’ve decided to do in that moment, and save everything else for latter. When you take your kids to a ballgame, be at the game. Don’t check email. Don’t get on a conference call. Just be with your kids. When you’re working, give your full attention to your work. Don’t schedule doctors’ appointments or make a grocery list. Just work.

I know how hard this is. I pride myself on being able to do twelve things at once. But something suffers. Doing twelve things at once means nothing gets done as well as it could be. And, when kids are involved, it means hurting someone’s feelings. I can spend two hours in the room with my son while I’m trying to answer emails, and he feels as if we haven’t spent any time together at all. In contrast, when I give him even only 10 minutes of focused attention, we both feel strengthened and reconnected. It does wonders for my relationships to spend dedicated time every day with my husband and children.

On a practical note, it also does wonders for my productivity. Spending focused time on only one activity at a time means that activity gets my full attention and the results show it. I can spend about half the time on an activity and do better work—if I’m fully present.

Accept the challenges.

One of the best things I’ve done for myself this summer is to change my mindset. When I start to worry that I’m not spending enough time on work or that I’m not giving the kids enough fun, I realize that I’m not present and so bring myself back to this moment. When we worry about the future, dwell on the past or experience guilt about what we “should” be doing, we are by definition not living in the present moment. What’s so difficult about staying in the moment is that we are constantly confronted by challenges and tempted by distractions. For example, I struggle with scheduling client sessions over the summer when my husband is traveling and I have to arrange childcare for my son. I get stressed and tense and at times want to give up.

But I know that struggling against a challenge will only make it worse. We handle challenges more gracefully and more successfully when we are calm and relaxed. I am reminded of the line from the serenity prayer, “Give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change.” This has been so helpful to my mindset this summer. I would not make my kids give up a summer sport just to keep me from having to drive them there. So I accept their activities and the fact that I spend more time in the car. I plan ahead and bring work to do. Instead of driving back home, I may work in a coffee shop, in the car or, if I’m lucky, outside under a tree. That is definitely a challenge I can accept.

Share the load.

Being a mom-preneur, you’re used to doing things on your own. But you’ve probably also learned that you can’t do everything yourself. And even the things you can do, you may do better with help. So get help. Practice the teamwork you preach to your kids. Build a team for yourself. Recruit your kids to do more around the house. Line up daycare, day camps, play dates and babysitters in advance. Have friends, family members or neighbors on call to help out in a pinch. And offer to help them. It may take a village to raise a kid, and it also takes a village to support a happy mom-preneur.

With planning, presence, attitude and teamwork, even mom-preneurs can have a great summer. Adopting a new routine and a new mindset, you can be productive and have fun. After a summer of practicing getting the most out of every moment, come August, you may even find yourself groaning about back-to-school.

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Summer Survival Tips for Mom-preneurs, Seekyt
General Contributor
Janice is a writer from Chicago, IL. She created the "simple living as told by me" newsletter with more than 12,000 subscribers about Living Better and is a founder of Seekyt.