Parents who are home, whether as stay-at-home or work-at-home parents, typically have a daily routine that is based around the hours that their children are at school. While ideally, that schedule can often be flexible enough to accommodate scheduled days off and the occasional weather-related break, there are times when you just have things that need to get done without interruption and you can’t simply put them off until after bedtime. Finding ways for the kids to stay occupied while you check those all-important items off the to-do list is crucial. And do to so without the ever-present parent guilt? Even more important.
Here are some of my favorite ways to handle things if I have a work-at-home day or a big chore list around the house when they have a day off from school:
- Make it a “take your kid to work day” – Break out their homework, print out some practice sheets, or create an “important project” for them to complete. Set everyone up at the kitchen table and work side by side to get all your work in by deadline!
- Hire your older kids to babysit the younger ones – Since you’re there for safety issues, giving older elementary school age children the chance to earn a couple of dollars and get in a little practice at babysitting can be a huge help. Do take care to not do this with kids who are very close in age. The dynamic can be a little more than tense when you make an only slightly older child the “boss”.
- Trade off with another at-home parent – Talk to your friends and see who else is facing the same conundrum or who has the day free. Split the day in half with them, keeping their kids for the morning while they watch yours for the afternoon. Or offer to trade off for the next scheduled school break.
- Create an hour on/hour off schedule – Split your time between focusing on your task list and spending time with the kids. Make it clear that when the clock hits a certain time or when you are able to finish a certain task, you can stop and play a board game, video game, or do a craft project with them for awhile. They may need reminders, but with a plan, the interruptions will hopefully be minimal.
- Split up your to-do list with the kids – If part of your must-dos are chores around the house that the kids can complete, recruit their help. They can knock off some of the smaller chores, while you take care of the more difficult things. Everything will get done a little faster and you’ll be able to enjoy more time together.
- Bring out something new – Hold aside a new board game, craft project, toy, or book just for days like this. Having something new to do can keep them occupied and entertained. You can even have a special box of “day off” toys, games, and activities to break out only on in-service days or when kids are home for inclement weather.
- If all else fails, resort to bribery – Sometimes even the best laid plans can be a tremendous fail and there is no shame in admitting “defeat”. Offering extra screen time, a special treat after all your work is done, or something else small that they’ve been asking for can be just what a desperate day needs to stay productive.
While it can be a rough thing to have to split your day between kids and work at the same time, there are ways to still get things done. What are some of your best suggestions for dealing with a day off from school?