I wish we could bottle the anticipation and excitement that oozes through kids as the end of school approaches. It’s summer, and suddenly the possibilities are endless, the freedom is palpable and the routine is on hiatus. It’s a wonderful time that adults who work full time truly miss and freelancers with children dread.

That’s right, I’m being fully transparent that I, a full-time freelancer and part-time stay-at-home mom do NOT love summers.

I lose that amazing predicability of school, where I know I’ll have seven hours each day all to myself to be productive. Mom guilt rushes in big time as summer hits. I can’t take a break from it all to go to the pool for hours on end or play games with my kids all day. They’re on break not me, and there hasn’t been a summer since I began freelancing that hasn’t been full of stress and that overwhelmed sensation when the to-do list is too long and too many asks are happening at once.

Yet, I keep doing it. I keep getting to summer knowing full well what’s going to happen.

I’ve tried many different ways to restore balance over the summer, and have learned some very important things in order to stay on top of work, spend time with my kids and find a little time to myself.

I can tell you there’s no right way to handle this situation. Your kids’ personalities matter, and so do their ages, when it comes to getting this right, but these are my best practices.


Today, so many kids are over-scheduled. It’s because there’s so much more to do, because of FOMO, because the school day ends for elementary kids with plenty of time left to fill. One of the reasons I opted to go freelance was so I could be home, so my kids could have that coveted downtime to just lay around the house.

This works great during the school year. They each pick 1-2 activities to do outside of school, and we work them into our schedule. During the summer though, it’s so much more complicated. This is why I rely on camps.

I don’t put my kids in camp every week of summer; they still need breaks, but I find week-long opportunities that align with hobbies or interests and go for it. My kids have done Lego camp, cooking camp, rock climbing camp, nature camp and drama camp. They’ve each tried sleep away, but that’s a whole other story.

Camps give me back a little routine and a quiet house. The trick is getting the kids in camps the same week that don’t have overlapping pickup and drop off times. There’s nothing worse than having to grab a kid from one place and rush to somewhere completely different to get another. It’s a scheduling game for sure, but when everyone is occupied, you can finally focus on your to-do list.


When the kids are at home with me, the only strategy that really seems to work is for me to divide my day. Since there’s not an external routine compartmentalizing my work time from my mom time, I have to take the reins and do it myself.

I use my own natural rhythms to put this plan into action. I block out a few hours for work when I’m my most alert and when the kids will have the least amount of needs. This often means getting up early and working between breakfast and lunch. I don’t have doors on my office (it’s the dining room) so the kids can see when I’m busy, and they often limit their interruptions now that they’re older.

I grab another block like this right before dinner. The kids are tired from the day, and I get a random burst of energy that astounds even me (thank you afternoon tea.)

Afternoons are often kid-time, and I try to vary how I use this period so expectations don’t get too high. I don’t want the kids to think we can always do something expensive, time-consuming or “special.” My favorite activities for this chunk include:

  • The pool - where I bring a book and grab a little me time
  • Family games - we’re just getting into Scrabble, but I’ll also play Mario Party on the Switch
  • Lunch out and errands - it’s functional and fun
  • Time with friends
  • Mini-golf, bowing or a movie
  • Museum or somewhere we don’t go often

Sometimes friends join us and sometime we do things as just a family, but dividing my day ensures I give my kids some focused time each day, where they know I’m not only half-listening because I’m also doing a million other things.


One of the best times to work is when it’s too hot to go outside. Unless you’re going to the pool, the high heat of the day is meant for relaxing and chilling. Let your kids have serious downtime during this chunk, while you get another item on your to-do list done.

To be specific, the time of day I’m talking about is between 3-5 p.m., the technical honest time of each day. The sun it at its highest, beating down at the same time more heat is rising off the ground. It’s late enough in the day that you can still have gotten out to have some fun, giving your kids a natural break when you can be productive.

I find that the heat of the day is the perfect time to grab my computer, sit in front of a sunny window, and enjoy the summer while staying cool. This environment motivates me to work too, so it’s a win-win.


Your kids aren’t working, but they’re up to something while you’re busy, and everyone needs a break. During the school year, I use my breaks to do other functional things, like run an errand or get a chore done around the house. I know this isn’t ideal, but it works.

This does not apply in the summer, so I use my breaks to engage the kids. We’ll all go on a walk together for a quick 20 minutes or have a water balloon fight. Sometimes I’ll just go sit and talk with each kid separately and check in with what they’re up to.

I find that I’m more relaxed using my break time for my kids than trying to get yet another thing done. It eases some of the guilt I feel for being busy when they’re home, and allows us to connect.


We all have days where there’s just too much to do. You can only put things off for so long before you’re left with a day you truly need to devote just to work. When this happens, I most certainly cannot do it all, so I ask for help.

This usually works out in one of three ways:

  • I ask my husband to take a day off and do something with the kids
  • I send them to friends’ houses knowing that the next playdate will be at my house
  • I ask grandma to hang with them

The kids have fun, I get stuff done and everyone wins!


The other way I tackle a really busy day with the kids being home for summer is giving myself a hard out for my work day. I don’t sit down and work eight hours straight, but sometimes I have enough work to do that I can’t finish at 5pm. I want to be done at that point though, so I often set my to-do list for the day in priority order. This ensures I get all the must-do’s done, but the rest I can push back without consequence.

Once the list is set, I give myself a hard-out to end my day and then set up an activity to do with the kids. Maybe we watch a movie at home, go out to dinner or play some games. Maybe we spend some outside together and I watch (without distraction) as they bike and skateboard.

Even if I have to take most of the day to work, this strategy allows me to get in that special quality time, which I’m so thankful summers afford me and my family.


You may not agree with this statement, but I feel it so deeply in my soul. It’s so hard being a freelancer and a parent while on summer vacation. I have empathy for all of you in the same boat, and hope that my tips prove helpful.

I’m even using them right now, as I rush to finish this before it’s officially the afternoon and we jet off to hang with friends. This is the second item on my work list for the day and it will put me almost halfway through. I feel good about where I’m at, and I hope you’re able to set up your summers so you can do the same.

Photo by Kindel Media