Work at Home Mom Survival Guide: How I Get Through Summer

work at home mom

Do you see that mom on the playground with her phone open? Or the one in the corner over there with a laptop? Yeah, that’s probably me or someone like me. I’m a work at home mom trying to survive summer vacation. For all of you out there in the same boat, I salute you and offer up my Work at Home Mom Survival Guide.

Why I’m Working on a Saturday Morning

If you’re anything like me, the reason you accepted the work at home opportunity is because you wanted to be with your kid more. We wanted to stay home but needed income. So, we found what some people call “stay at home mom employment.” Except, that’s not really the case, is it? We’re not stay at home moms, we’re work at home moms.  Some days, I get overwhelmed at the constant code switching between working me and mom me.

It’s not easy. All working is difficult. All parenting is difficult. We don’t get to leave the house to focus on our jobs. When our kids are school age, we don’t get the hours they’re away to do the things like grocery shopping or cleaning unless we decide to work after they go to bed. We have to fit our professional lives into the spaces between our other identities throughout the day. We do this not in large chunks of time but in minutes. We’ll take a break to eat lunch but probably also move the laundry or put the dishes in the dishwasher. We’ll be working and the dog will need to go for a walk.

Even if you have a dedicated work space in your house away from everyone else, the summer reminds you about the way in which you have to run a constant balance of being mom and being worker.

People are going to tell you they understand. Until they get interrupted three times while writing a single sentence with the word “Mom?” (or “Dad?”), they really can’t. Switching brain spaces every thirty seconds with no ability to control when it’s going to have to happen becomes our second nature, but it’s also exhausting. I get that.

Why This Work at Home Mom Bought the Fancy A** Swim Club Pass

We’re not fancy people. The idea of paying for something that I could get cheaper elsewhere is mostly anathema to my penny-pinching system. The problem is that my kid is super active. This kid wakes up between dark o’clock and stupid o’clock every day ready and raring to go. Adding to this, my kid is one of the most social human beings I’ve ever met. I was an only child, but I was really wonderful at self-entertaining. My child, on the other hand, constantly needs people to play with. If there’s no kids around, guess who that person has to be?

Yeah, this girl right here.

Guess who hates playing soccer in ninety-degree weather and sixty percent humidity?

Yup, this girl right here.

We don’t do a lot of camps because they’re expensive around here. A three hour per day camp costs about $150/week. The town camp where teenagers do crafts and games with kids at the local playground/pool costs about $375/week. So last year and this year, we spent the money on a local swim club that comes with Wi-Fi. The membership was cheaper than two weeks at camp, and the pool opens every day at 10am. We know that there will be the same kids coming almost every day since the people who are members use it regularly.

But, did you see that? It has Wi-Fi.

It’s not a perfect solution. I have to work outside in the heat and humidity. I get interrupted by the kid wanting attention. Although, the interruptions are for about fifteen to twenty minutes at a clip, which really isn’t bad. I have to be super careful to keep the electronics from getting wet. However, we’re not yelling at each other. That’s the important part.

So yeah, we joined the fancy a** pool, and right now, the ability to add a few hours of afternoon work time to my schedule makes it worthwhile. Granted, the fancy pool isn’t a country club or even the most fancy around here. It’s just the right level of club feel that gives my kid the social life and continuity they need to not want me 24-7. I think with this? We’re down to about 22-6. But I’ll take that.

Finding the right fit for you might not be a fancy swim club. It might be the local McDonalds Play Space. You know what? That’s fine. I’ve done that too. I’ve done it all. The library. The McDonalds. The trampoline park. The bounce house place. Finding a space that entertains your kid that costs less than camp and allows you to get work done? You be you. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Why This Post Will Now Review Products

Review posts always seem kind of self-serving, right? I get a free thing and then tell you about it. But think about it; if we were just out for drinks, we’d be having this conversation. I’d be saying, “OMG DID YOU TRY THIS?” and you’d be answering, “WHOA NO! But I tried this and it worked for me!”

Over the course of the first month of summer, I reviewed some products and ended up realizing that they were helping me be a better summer mom. So yeah, some of the things (not all) included below are going to be things that were sent as review copies. However, all of them are intended as tips to help you negotiate the next month or so of summer break or winter break or holiday.

How to Reduce Noise

If you’re anything at all like me, noise reduction is one of the top things on your mind. Well, possibly not noise reduction as a whole, but I’m taking a strong bet that reducing the noise of YouTube videos would be a positive. My eight-year-old has taken to watching the most inane videos that come with the loudest noise. Yeah, I’m looking at you Eh Bee Family.

Headphones for the spawn help with that. However, simultaneously, my kid is still, well, eight. So breaking their little eardrums is not one of my top priorities. Again, since the kid is eight, the idea of being responsible with headphones is something that’s totally not happening. This is where Buddy Phones come to the rescue.

work at home mom
As a work at home mom, these have saved me from more Vine videos than I can imagine.

I found these at ToyFair 2017 and fell in love with them. They’re designed specifically for young ears and keep noise to a protectively appropriate decibel. Even better, if you have more than one kid? They can watch the same thing because Buddy Phones are designed to allow up to four kids to listen together with special built in jacks. Yeah, that.

However, it’s not just about the kids. As a highly mobile person, I like to have my own music available to me. I don’t always want to drain my phone battery, however. At the same time, I still need to be able to take calls, and we all know that doing it through the laptop doesn’t work well. Or, at least doing it through my laptop doesn’t work well. The Sudio Vasa Bla offers multi-device pairing.

work at home mom

Yup, for the first time, I can hook up my phone and my laptop to the same pair of wireless earphones. Here at GeekMom and GeekDad we get a lot of requests to review earbuds. So many, in fact, that GeekDad Mordechai decided to only review the exceptional ones. With their multi-device pairing, the Sudios fall into that category if you’re an on-the-go self-employed person.

How to Quiet Your Children Using Learning

Seriously, summer learning, am I right? When I told the kid that I’d be making them doing some summer “homework,” I was told, “You’re SAVAGE mom. SAVAGE.” That’s right, kiddo. And you know why? Because if you’re working, mama gets to work.

However, despite my desires to be the Super Mom when it comes to summer work, I am just too lazy and tired to argue constantly. This means that I have to find the fun learning options.

You’d think this would be easier, right? Oh no.

So far, the best of the options for learning and fun has been purchasing Prodigy Math Game. Seriously, the kid is addicted to this thing. I had no idea. It’s a regular quest styled video game. The catch is that kids have to be able to answer math questions to cast the spells that kill the monsters. As your kid moves through the different worlds, they level up the math skills. The good part of this is that my kid is learning new math skills. The bad part of this? My kid is making me explain new math skills to them in order to defeat the evils. This takes away from my ability to do work. But.. but… BUT my kid is learning!

work at home mom

The other app that we’ve been using is The Foos. The Foos offers a great Hour of Code app, but if you pay $8/month you can unlock a lot more for this to help elementary kids learn coding. The Foos is another great reason for the Buddy Phones. The music is amusingly, addictively, irritatingly similar to the Mario Bros. theme song. The game basically teaches kids various coding skills by having them play video game styled levels which then become an ongoing video game. Essentially, they’re using a video game to build a video game.

work at home mom
Work at home mom win: I do work; kid learns coding.

A little less “in your face” is the School of Dragons: Alchemy Adventure. As my kid told me, “Ooooh it’s CANDY CRUSH!” It’s a Candy Crush styled game where you line up similarly situated blocks to make them disappear. In this case, however, the blocks are based on the periodic table elements. My kid loves the game, which makes sense. The learning is a little less obvious. However, at the very least, it’s an amusing game that gives kids exposure to the elements. There’s descriptions of the elements and types of elements scattered throughout, but this is not the type of game where you know for sure your kid is learning something. It’s more like hidden learning that makes a fun game feel less useless. I’m ok with that if it means I’m getting work done.

Between you and me? Working at home is both the most wonderful and most miserable experience I’ve ever had. I love my kid, but I don’t want to be my kid’s constant playmate. During the school year, working from home gives me the flexibility to be involved in things at my kid’s school. It lets me earn income while also being plugged into what’s going on.

Summer is the most difficult part of this. I get that. Having to switch constantly between being mom and being whateveryourjobis totally sucks. The only people who understand this are, really, the moms who work at home.

Here’s to you, Work at Home Mom. School’s just around the corner. You can do it.

Karen Walsh is a part time, extended contract, first year writing instructor at the University of Hartford. In other words, she's SuperAdjunct, complete with capes and Jedi robe worn during grading. When Karen isn't teaching, she is a freelance writer who works for a variety of marketing clients focusing on a variety of topics, including InfoSec and parenting. She works in order to support knitting, comics, tattoo, and museum membership addictions. She has one dog, one husband, and one son who all live with her just outside of Hartford, CT. She can be reached on Twitter: @kvonhard and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GeekyKaren/