This summer marks my third as a work-at-home mom. Long gone are the days of full-time summer daycare programs and group field trips. Gone are the uninterrupted work days in my freezing cubicle and an actual quitting time. I’m on summer’s schedule now, desperately trying to fit work into a house inhabited by kids.
While working from home remains an undeniable blessing nine months out of the year, it presents very real challenges throughout the summer months. Later kid bedtimes result in a night owl work schedule and regular deadline near misses. Business calls are the stuff of nervous breakdowns and the constant mess/meal/snack/fight/boredom stops and starts make it nearly impossible to get anything done during normal business hours.
Thinking long and hard about how I wanted this summer to be different, it dawned on me that I not only needed to work smarter rather than harder this year, I needed to stop thinking as if I was in this thing alone, because I wasn’t. I had the help of my very capable 11-year-old son at my fingertips for the asking.
Enlisting the help of my tween in caring for his little brother this summer shows him that I trust in his abilities while providing me with an opportunity to reinforce important life skills relating to care-taking, responsibility, time management, and self-care.
Take a look at five ways I’m relying on my oldest son to help out with his little brother while I work from home this summer:
1. Daily reading
Both kids are required to read a minimum of 30 minutes every day, and while reading is no problem for Boy Wonder, my youngest needs all the reading help and encouragement he can get. Entrusting my older son to help guide his little brother down the road to reading proficiency is not only strengthening their brotherly bond, it’s teaching my tween a great deal about patience.
2. Helping to keep him busy
I don’t expect Boy Wonder to babysit and entertain BooBoo all day, but I do expect him to help set up games and activities for his brother to engage in. Simple things like opening Play-Doh containers, gathering materials for arts and crafts, setting up Netflix, and keeping an eye on his brother playing in the backyard help me in a very big way.
3. Checking his summer bridge worksheets
We’re talking bouncing two worksheets a day against an answer key. It’s not hard, but it is helpful.
4. Preparing his lunches and snacks
Since Boy Wonder’s been preparing his own simple lunches and snacks for years, I figured he could do the same for his always-hungry-never-met-a-snack-he-didn’t-like younger brother. And because BooBoo’s tastes differ quite a bit from his brother’s, Boy Wonder‘s learning all sorts of important skills, such as how to use a microwave, how to open a can without slicing his fingers off, and the best way to remove jelly from a counter top.
5. Practicing flash cards
In a just a few minutes a day, Boy Wonder has the power to help keep his little brother’s skills sharp over the summer. Are flashcards something he wants to do? Of course not, but it’s an easy task that makes a big difference. And the pride he gets from helping to teach his little brother something new? PRICELESS.