School’s out! Chances are your kids are celebrating right now because weeks of summer vacation beckon. But, if you’re starting a business or running a business, and you have school-aged children, you’re likely feeling a little conflicted.
Entrepreneurs like you and me struggle a bit in the summer—trying to balance our desire to be great business owners—and great parents.
While I love (and truthfully look forward to) having my kids at home during the summer months, I confess it’s getting increasingly harder to keep them occupied while I’m hard at work.
I know this is a struggle we all face—how do we give our kids the attention they deserve and concentrate on growing our businesses at the same time?
I’ve come up with a few ideas and solutions that hopefully can help you balance the pulls of parenthood and entrepreneurship:
- Ask your friends – What are their kids doing this summer? You may learn about new activities or programs in your city or town. Then offer to create a carpool so everyone gets a day or two off from driving their own kids around.
- Parks and rec – Check out the event schedule issued by your city’s parks & recreation department. Many departments have classes or schedule special events aimed at kids of all ages.
- Camps – There are camps (both local and sleep-away) that appeal to a wide variety of interests. Whether your kid loves sports, cooking, theater, writing, business, music, etc., you can find a camp where they can enhance their skills, or learn new ones.
- Reading group – Take your kids to the local bookstore or library and pick out a few great books for them to read. A mix of new titles and ones you loved when you were their age is perfect. If your kids don’t love reading, consider creating a rewards system to entice them.
- Hobbies – If you can’t send your kids to camp, you can still encourage them to pursue their passions. And spending time on hobbies, like drawing/painting, sewing, cooking, etc. takes up a lot of time.
- Library days – Many local libraries plan special activities during the summer months. You can find a quiet spot there to do research or other work, while your kids are otherwise occupied.
- Everyone in the pool – Does your town have a local pool? If your kids are old enough, they might enjoy spending some time in the sun with their friends. If you’re not comfortable leaving them alone there, create a schedule with the other moms, and on your days, bring your laptop to the pool while you catch some rays as well.
- Go to “college” – Many community colleges offer summer classes for teens. This isn’t summer school, but the opportunity to learn new skills or explore new (or current) interests).
- Playdates – Arrange for them to spend time with their friends at your house—while you’re there (if you work at home). This option is great because you know where they are, who they’re with, and what they’re doing—which enables you to not worry and concentrate on your work.
- Put them to work – Depending on what you do, you may be able to get your kids involved in your business. They can help you file papers, get organized, and possibly (under supervision of course) assist with your social media.
As business owners, we’re lucky to be able to set our own schedules. If you work at an office or store, can you take some work-at-home days? Can you institute summer Fridays at your office, giving yourself and your employees every other Friday (or Friday afternoons) off?
If you plan ahead (as in now) for the summer, you won’t waste valuable time every day wondering (or worrying) about what your kids are up to. This will better enable you to focus on building your business.
There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for balancing your kids’ and your company’s needs. There are a lot of variables at play—the ages of your kids, how independent they are, their interests, your budget, your spouse’s workload, and the demands of your business. If your kids are old enough, involve them in the decision making. They’ll be more likely to participate in any activities they help plan.
And don’t panic—with a little planning, you and your kids can have a great summer!