Work-at-Home Mom’s Summer Survival Guide


Work-at-Home Mom’s Summer Survival Guide

I admit it. I enjoyed the last couple of weeks in my quiet office. While the kids were in school, I roamed the house with a cup of tea and a laptop in search of a change of scenery for creative inspiration. I chatted with clients while folding laundry and enjoyed hours of uninterrupted silence conducive to writing and thinking. Once school let out for the summer, I was banished to my office with the French doors closed and the mute button became my best friend again.

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love the fact that my children will be home all summer and I’m excited for the shift it will bring to my routine and our family life. Having worked from home for 19 years, I’ve learned a little bit about how to stay productive without becoming a work-monger. And because my children have never known anything except a work-at-home mother, they’ve grown up sharing their home with a business. Together, we’ve come up with a fairly decent system for spending the summer in work and play. Here are our favorite tips, and they should work for toddlers to teens and will even be helpful if you’ve got a babysitter or nanny on board:

Seven Home-Based Business Summer Survival Tips

1. Create a Schedule. Yeah, I know…boring! But having a loose schedule will give everyone the structure they need to accomplish what has to be done, and enjoy the long days of nothingness. At the very least, establish regular working hours – even if they fluctuate from week to week.  And do your best to treat those office hours as sacred time without distraction or interruption. This will help you prevent trying to work at the waterpark (not very productive as I have learned from experience).

Bonus tip: I started asking my kids to create their own summer routines a few years ago. I give them parameters like “one hour of reading time,” or “30 minutes of exercise,” and “no more than one hour of screen time.” They have fun and learn a valuable skill by outlining their own daily schedules – and they are far more likely to stick to the routine when they create it themselves.

2. Plan. Discuss. Repeat. Because summer schedules seem to change each week, it’s even more important to hold that weekly planning meeting with your family. Review the schedule for the week and set realistic expectations for office hours, meals, transportation, play dates, etc. If you have a childcare provider, outline the week for her as well. It only takes 20 minutes and gives everyone an opportunity to participate and be heard. Plus, it gives you an idea of what your top priorities will be each week so you can tackle them first!

3. Protect Your Boundaries. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and your family is the gift of clearly defined boundaries. Do your kids know when you are “at work” and “at home?” Do they know the rules of when they can or cannot enter your office? Do they know how to behave when you are on the phone? (No matter how old they are!) Do they know WHO to go to when there is a babysitter in the house and mom is in the office? Do YOU know the rules about answering a work related call while playing CandyLand or teaching your teenager to drive? Do YOU respect your children by focusing on them 100% during the time you are not working? Give this area some serious thought and work with your children to create and honor boundaries that work for everyone.

4. Write a Business Bucket List. You may already have a bucket list of fun things your children want to do this summer. But do you have a bucket list of your business goals for the summer? What are the things that you put off until summer to explore, learn or implement in your business? Are there any road trips or excursions that might be good for your business and fun for your family? Do you have a weeklong beach or mountain retreat planned that would be perfect for writing your book or several blog posts? Are there some things your children can actually help you accomplish this summer? What about your babysitter – can she sort papers or stuff envelopes or do research while the kids are napping? Make a list of business related projects and goals that are perfect for summer.

5. Get More Rest Than You Think You Need. Let’s be real – your summer isn’t filled with lazy days lounging poolside with freshly painted toenails and a frozen margarita. Last time my life looked like that was on my honeymoon! In fact, there are no lazy days of summer. Only fun filled crazy days of summer! We are a family on the go – even when we’re in slow motion. Which means I need to make sure I get a full eight hours of sleep every night – so I can keep up with my kids, my business and my health.

6. Take Advantage of Quiet Mornings. Hear me out on this one – even if you’re not a morning person, you may want to consider setting the alarm an hour earlier and brewing a pot of stronger coffee so you can tackle your biggest work projects in the peace and quiet of early morning. Sleepy teens and tweens will not even come near you at that hour. And, if you’re lucky, the younger ones will be happy to eat breakfast in their pajamas and watch Veggie Tales or go outside and play before it gets too hot. So mom will have a few hours of uninterrupted work time before the day really begins.

7. Say No to “Opportunities” That Can Wait. It’s a myth that business is slow in the summer. Even in the corporate world where clients are on vacation and it’s difficult to schedule meetings, there is still a LOT of work to be done in the summer. People are taking advantage of lighter schedules to do some planning and creative brainstorming. That’s all great news if you are looking for work. But if you’re trying spend more time with family, then be careful not to take on anything new that will infringe on your personal time. Be especially careful not to accept a project simply because you are afraid the client will never ask you again if you refuse. Trust in your own talent and know that the work will be there when you need it – but your children are only home for a few short weeks this summer.

Whether or not you have childcare this summer, I hope these tips will help you stay productive in your home office and enjoy your family time too. When September rolls around, you will skip the neighborhood back-to-school celebration where moms send off the school bus with mimosas in hand. Instead, you’ll be one of those moms at the bus stop in tears because you’re sad to see them go. You’ll be ready to devote more time to business, but you’ll be grateful for the summer fun memories you created. (And if you’re a homeschooling mom like so many of our readers, you’ll be all set with new schedules and boundaries that will serve you well all year long!)

What did I forget? Do you have any summer survival tips for working from home? Please share them with us here!

Copyright 2013 Theresa Ceniccola




About Author

Theresa Ceniccola is The Christian Mompreneur—a mentor to moms who are running a business that supports their values of faith and family. As president and founder of the International Christian Mompreneur Network, she empowers entrepreneurial moms to build profitable businesses with wisdom and grace. Join the International Christian Mompreneur Network for free and receive the Ten Commandments of a Mompreneur toolkit!


  1. I loved this post for its clarity and advice. I am growing my freelance business and writing a memoir in the process. Last week, I hired a part-time sitter to help me out a few hours a couple times per week in order to help me achieve my business goals this summer. It is money well-spent. Growing up, my father’s work was home-based and even though he traveled quite a bit throughout the academic year, he was home almost full-time during the summer months with me and my three siblings and mom. We had definite boundaries and rules to respect his working hours. But, there was always time for play and summer fun. He was a night owl, so usually after dinner, we wouldn’t see him again until bedtime, but we got used to what worked for him. When we were a little older, he let us help out with the paperwork, sorting, packing, etc… and it was fun for us because at least we were spending time together and he always played great music while he worked! Thanks for sharing your tidbits!

    • Thanks for sharing that perspective, Autumn. It’s interesting to me how much easier it is for work at home dads to set boundaries. I don’t know if I’m stereotyping and I don’t mean to do that, but I’ve talked to a LOT of work at home dads who don’t have problems with boundaries. Yet us moms have to really work hard at at. I’m sure it’s another one of those things we do to ourselves without realizing it. But my dad worked at home too, and my grandfather, and I had a similar experience to you – we just got used to it and we knew when we were allowed in the office and not. I’m glad you have fond and fun memories of it!

  2. Theresa, this is just what I need! I have a big writing deadline coming up in a few weeks and am finding it very very hard to get my daily quota done with my two wild little men in the house. #2 is so wise — every week is different, so it’s a great idea to revise my goals every few days. And I just may have to take #6 to heart and get up earlier than everyone else in order to stay productive. Now can I convince my husband (aka Mr. Coffee Maker) to do the same? 🙂 Thanks for the tips.

    • Glad to help, Ginny! Good luck with your writing and your wild men:-) When you get up at 5 am, just think of me and all the other WAHMs out there who are being SUPER productive! You’ll be part of a secret society of early morning rockstar moms! (Just don’t get on Facebook or Twitter and try to chat with everyone at that hour:-)

  3. Theresa, I feel like I need to write you a thank-you letter, because 3 (or is it 4?) weeks into summer, I’m losing my mind, and part of it is mentioned in at least every single point you make! 🙂

  4. Love this! I work from home year round and always love to hear new tricks of the trade from other mothers. This summer I have found that deliberately trying to enjoy summer at-home has made a huge difference for me, even when I’m working. I can watch my kids play outside in the yard with the sitter while I’m working, and being able to wave to them and see their joy reminds me of how lucky I feel to have my work environment so close to their everyday. Even when it’s the sitter and not me who gets to take them on a summer adventure, I love hearing about it when they get back and seeing their joy has helped this to be the most guilt-free working summer I’ve enjoyed to date. We’re all doing our work – theirs being the work of play and childhood – and it feels good to be doing that all under our own roof (albeit thanks to Pandora and headphones!)

    • Thanks, Laura! I know what you mean about the headphones – great tip:-) And thanks for sharing your perspective on the guilt free working summer – I just had a tinge of jealousy when my sitter announced she was taking the kids to see Despicable Me 2 this week – I had really wanted to take them myself. But the truth is, I’d probably not get around to taking them…so I’m grateful that she offered and I know they will all have fun. I will get to hear about it when they return:-)

  5. How I wish I’d read this post back during the summer months! But, I will bookmark it to come back and read again in early June. This summer was my first to be really busy with work at home with the kids at home. It went ok, but could have been better. It was a huge learning curve. Your idea of getting up early is probably the best but hardest for me. I really need to make the effort to do that one so the rest of my day can go smoother. Thanks for the ideas!

  6. You are right about the learning curve, Lisa. It does get easier – I promise! Getting up early isn’t easy for me either – I’m not a happy camper in the morning. But it’s worth it because the rest of the day goes so much more smoothly! Let me know how it works:-) And thanks for your feedback!

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