Surviving After-School Time: Meet Deadlines and Keep Your Kids Happy

Kids arrive home from schoolIn my school district, kids get out of school as early as 2:45 pm and as late as 4:15 pm. If you start working after the kids leave for school, you can usually get around six or seven hours of work done. Most people tend to work at least eight hours per day — so how do you deal with the after-school time, when work still needs to be done?
You may need to help the younger ones with homework or teach them study skills. You may need to switch into chauffeur mode to get the kids to sports, music lessons or club activities. Everyone has different needs and situations. With that in mind, I’ve come up with a list of suggestions of things that you can do to keep your kids happy and meet your deadlines:

  • Sign up the kids for after-school programs: Some schools have a program on campus. Many nearby daycare centers send vans to pick up the kids.
  • Hire a student: Some high schoolers finish school early enough to hang with your kids and help with homework. It helps if the high schooler can drive so they can come to your place and take the kids to the park or the library. This approach worked well for me last year. If it appeals to you, check your local colleges as well. Colleges may have a bulletin board or some other job notification system where you can advertise this kind of work.
  • Make a schedule: This is the approach I’m now using, and so far, so good. When the elementary kids arrive home, they have about 30 minutes to chill and eat snacks. Then one hour of homework, quiet and reading time. That time frame removes the temptation to rush through homework to go outside or do something fun. If they finish homework early, they still have to wait the full hour before playtime begins.
  • Take turns with other parents: Find other work-from-home parents to take turns in watching the kids. That way, you can get a couple of afternoons to yourself.
  • Pay another parent to help: When I still had a corporate job and my son needed to be somewhere right before I got off work, a good friend took him for me while I picked him up. Though we do things for each other all the time, this regular carpooling warranted a little extra.
  • Treat the afternoon as family time: Give yourself a break and enjoy spending a few hours with your kids, preparing for dinner and helping with homework. Finish your work in the evening after they’ve gone to bed. Instead of lunch breaks, take late afternoon breaks. But still, walk away from the computer for at least five minutes several times a day for health’s sake. Oh, and be careful not to get food and drink on the keyboard.
  • Set aside time on the weekend: If your situation doesn’t give you enough time during the week, pick a time on the weekend to do your work. It helps to have a home office so the kids know not to disturb mom or dad while they’re working, unless it’s an emergency (note that a kid’s definition of “emergency” will probably not be the same as yours, so you might want to discuss that beforehand). No home office? Create a work area that signals to the kids that mom or dad is at work.

Web working gives parents the flexibility to be there for their kids and put family first. They don’t have to explain themselves to coworkers and bosses when they need to take care of family business. I love working out of my home office as it provides a well-rounded life.
How do you manage your family around your web working career?