As a work-from-home writer, I have a fair amount of flexibility. I can work from anywhere with an internet connection and, in most cases, what hours I work don't matter (as long as I answer email and other messages from my editors).
That's a fabulous freedom that allows me to start my days early (7:30 a.m. generally) in order to be mostly done when I pick my 15-year-old son up from the school bus at 3:30 p.m. Unfortunately, school has ended for the summer here in Florida, and I no longer have my days free until 3:30 p.m.
Now along with my workday, I have to balance the needs of a teenager who's legally too young (and not quite mature enough) to have a job. Things are certainly harder for my colleagues with younger kids dealing with the weeks before camps open, but it's still a challenge.
1. Have a plan
My son knows I have to work, and he'd generally be happy playing video games all day. Since that's not great parenting, I have a rough plan for the days when we're home. I let him sleep until 9, and then we go to a coffee shop, where I work for a couple of hours and he has breakfast then plays on his phone.
After that, we walk back home and I work for another couple of hours (taking me to about 5 1/2 for the day since I started before he got up), while he plays video games or watches videos on his phone. At some point we have lunch, and I try to get us out of the house, maybe to the pool or the beach.
I try to return by 5 so I can sneak in an hour or so of work before cooking dinner. After we eat, my wife takes over parenting, and I get another hour or so of work in, giving me a nearly full day.
2. Work when you can
During the summer months, I try to bank hours on the weekend. If I work half a day on each weekend day, that frees up a day during the week during which I can do other things.
The same logic applies to early mornings and late nights. Sometimes I get up at 6 a.m. and work until noon, then take my son to a theme park for much of the day. That leaves me "owing" myself a couple of hours, which I put in either after he goes to sleep or on the weekends.
3. Be realistic
My son and I have done some version of this for each of the last three summers. He understands that in order for me to be able to take him places during the workday, I have to find time to work at odd hours.
I may be the only person working in theme park coffee shops (I'm a local with passes, so I don't need to spend every minute having fun). I've also been the only person on the pool deck on a cruise sipping a beverage while getting some work done.
You can do it
Next year, my son will be 16, and that means he'll be able to work at least part-time. That will free up my summers and give me a more normal work schedule. It will also mean the end of what has been both a challenging and a rewarding time for both of us.
Yes, I've left some money on the table over the past few summers, and I'll do the same this year. But the point of making money is so you can have experiences that make memories, and I've done that to a remarkable level.
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