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Balancing Work with Seasonal Family Shifts

As we gear up for the final school bell on June 14th, I'm feeling the crush of end-of-year school commitments. Oh, the joy and chaos! This flurry of activity really brings into focus the ever-changing dance of balancing work with the seasonal shifts of family life. 

Each season rolls in with its own set of challenges and demands, swirling around our work and personal lives like leaves in a summer breeze. Whether prepping for school sports games, juggling summer camps, or coordinating holiday gatherings, it's a whirlwind that requires a hearty dose of flexibility and a solid strategy for prioritization. 

So, let's dive into the world of seasonal transitions and explore how we can glide through each one without dropping the ball either at work or at home!

P.S. I work from home as my own boss, which allows me scheduling freedom that many others do not have. While this post may not resonate 100% with you, the foundational tips can help any working style!

seasons changes

January to June – Navigating the Long Haul

While I recognize that most people probably split up this section into two seasons, they have always been one giant leap for us. As soon as we step past the new year, the kids head back to school, and their schedules are packed with school, sports, and activities. Of course, there is a short hiccup for spring break, but it does little to affect our routine. 

During these six months, it's crucial to keep our professional productivity in sync. Here's my trick: regular check-ins. Every Sunday evening, I take a moment to sync our family calendar with my work commitments. This simple routine prevents last-minute scrambles and ensures our entire family is prepared for the week ahead. I’ll be honest: my kids don’t love the calendar chat, but it’s saved us so many last-minute headaches. Due to this, it’s mandatory in our home. It also gives my husband and I a chance to coordinate calendars and what I call the “family taxi service.”

Managing this period also means being proactive about self-care. As tempting as it is to fill every minute, I make sure to block out time for my Intentional Margins. Even if it’s just a quick walk around the block to get some fresh air or a coffee break, it always helps my energy levels. Remember, balancing work and family life isn't just about keeping up—it's about staying ahead without burning out.

Summer Break – The Art of Slowing Down

When the school bell rings for summer, our family rhythm shifts significantly. This is the point we are gearing up for right now as I type these words. 

The structured schedules melt away, offering a more relaxed vibe but also a challenge to balance work commitments with a sudden increase in family time. To navigate this, I adjust my work hours to capitalize on the early morning quiet before the kids wake up. When my kids were younger, this allowed me to dedicate the bulk of the day to family activities, ensuring I was present and engaged. As my kids have gotten older, sometimes it’s simply being available to drive them to the pool or a friend’s house. 

Additionally, if my kids head off to a summer camp, I use this time to get ahead by working longer days until their return. This allows me to power through my deep work without feeling guilty!

Summer is also the perfect time for vacation. We always take at least a short trip, but even if a getaway isn’t an option 100% of the time, we embrace the season by enjoying local attractions or simply unwinding in our backyard. It is during this time that I consciously dial back on big projects during these months, setting realistic work goals that accommodate more spontaneous family fun. 

By planning ahead and setting these seasonal shifts with my work, I ensure that both my professional career and family life thrives without stepping on each other’s toes. Summer doesn’t have to be a juggling act; with a little more thought and intention, it can be a refreshing pause that rejuvenates us all. What I’ve found is that in the quietness of summer, I have some of the best organic ideas.

balancing work schedule with school

Fall – The Back-to-School Hustle

As the leaves start to turn and the air gets crisp, our family gears up for the busy back-to-school season. This period is all about reinstating structure after the laid-back summer days. 

September is always a blur, and every year, I forget just how busy it is. Perhaps this is for self-preservation. It's a time when our family calendar becomes the command center of our lives, meticulously outlining each child's school schedules, extracurricular activities, and any parental involvement required. There is a booster club for everything, am I right? 

To get a jump on this, I add in every requirement as early as I can. We are taking school breaks (or days off), sports schedules, extracurricular activities, and other requirements like doctors’ appointments or anything else that demands a spot on the schedule. My trick to not being late and feeling that stress of always being a tad bit behind is adding in driving time or buffer time to the calendar as an appointment. For example, if I need to pick up my daughter from school at 3:00 and bring her to dance practice by 3:15, I have a time block called “driving” from 2:45 to 3:15 so that I can drive from home to school, wait for her, then drive her to dance and get back home. 

Additionally, I make it a point to involve the kids in organizing their own schedules. We have a weekly family meeting where everyone updates their upcoming week's commitments. This fosters responsibility in the kids and helps our entire family stay on the same page, minimizing last-minute chaos. 

I want to note that one of the key strategies I employ during this time is the continued strategic use of mornings. I still wake up early, as I did during the summer, to get a head start on work before the rest of the house stirs. This maximizes my productivity and frees up my afternoons and evenings to be the taxi driver, attend sporting events, choir concerts, school plays, and that last-minute trip to Target for that homework assignment.

By proactively managing our time and responsibilities, fall becomes less about stress and more about enjoying the new beginnings and opportunities it brings to our family.

seasons changing in one landscape

December – Embracing Holiday Happiness

December sweeps in with a flurry of festive activities and holiday spirit, making it a delightful yet demanding time for balancing work and family commitments. I am happily obsessed with all things twinkle lights and holiday cheer, so I embrace this season to the fullest. To navigate this joyous chaos, I start by embracing pre-planning. Early in November (and sometimes even late October if I really have my ducks in a row), I begin organizing. We are talking about planning and buying holiday gifts, preparing and setting up decorations, and scheduling family gatherings, ensuring the bulk of the preparations are completed before the month's madness begins.

During this season, I also prioritize delegation both at home and at work. At home, every family member pitches in with holiday preparations, turning tasks like baking and decorating into fun family activities rather than chores. We get our Christmas cards out early, decide which winter activities are a priority, and put them on the schedule. We also make space for time as a family and time for ourselves to relax. 

On the work side, I ensure that projects are frontloaded into November and deadlines are set with the holiday schedule in mind. This allows me to slow down in pace the closer I get to the holiday madness. I recognize that I have the best team around me that’s been with me for years. We talk about all taking a step back and being proactive in tasks to allow everyone that much-deserved break. 

Moreover, I'm mindful to set realistic expectations for what can be achieved during this bustling month. Instead of striving for the perfect holiday season, I focus on creating meaningful moments with my family and friends. We have established traditions that emphasize spending quality time together over perfection and highlighting experiences over “‘stuff.” 

This approach not only reduces stress but also enhances our overall enjoyment of the season, making work-life balance more attainable and the holidays a time of true joy and connection.

Balancing Work and Finding Your Rhythm with Your Family

Balancing work with changing family seasons is a very personal process that will change throughout the chapters of life. For example, it is far more different now with teenagers than when they were little. So, all you can really do is find a rhythm that harmonizes with your family and your work. The key lies in adapting and being flexible with our approaches, allowing us to effectively meet the changing needs of our family and professional responsibilities.

Overall, the biggest point I want to emphasize is that by planning ahead, prioritizing well-being, and being present in the ever-changing moments, we not only enhance our own lives but also deepen our bonds with those we love.

I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on how the seasonal shifts affect your balancing act and share your strategies or stories. What's your most challenging season, and what have you learned from it? 

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