Happy summer, work-at-home mamas! How goes that to-do list? Do you find that the kids being out of school is putting a massive crimp in your work output? Time to summer-ize your office for work-on-the-go. And to help, here is my list of your summer mobile office must-haves.
As I draft this post, I’m away from my kiddos for a few days at a conference—meaning my mobile office is already getting its first summer test. Since my husband’s job requires time in his office even during the summer, I’ve had a lot of practice trying to sneak in a little work here and there while taking my kids to the park, watching their swim lessons, and waiting in day camp pick-up lines. Trust me, with the right equipment at hand, you too can sneak in some productivity over the summer while still supervising your kiddos’ summer fun!
What’s a work-at-home mama to do when the kids are out of school? My list of summer mobile office must-haves will help you maintain your productivity during your kids’ summer adventures.
Your Summer Mobile Office Must-Haves
Device(s) of choice and internet access – Unless your work is entirely analog, this is a no-brainer. Depending on what I’m working on, I’ve been known to bring laptop AND phone AND iPad. Just make sure you keep them with you at all times (i.e., don’t leave them unattended!). And if you don’t have free wifi access, make sure your data plan is up to it! (I’ve been making my phone a hotspot a lot on this current trip, and my first day here I used as much data as we usually use in a month!)
Lifeproof/Otterbox/drybag(s) -And if your mobile-office time involves anything “rugged” and/or wet, make sure you’ve got your device protected! My Lifeproof case has kept my phone dry in pools and thunderstorms; the kids’ school iPads come in Otterboxes that protect them nicely from drops and crashes.
Access to your planner/project manager – If you’re away from your regular workspace and your regular planning software, make sure you’ve got the app installed on your devices and the password ready to go. Or if (like me) you’re old-school, make sure you bring your Bullet Journal or other analog planning device. Even if you can’t do full-blown work on your projects wherever you are, you can at least make outlines and lists, take notes, jot down ideas, etc.
Power cords/juice – Having all the devices in the world won’t do you any good if they run out of power. So bring your charging cords and a good backup battery with you. Until my travels of earlier this year, I had smaller power sticks that worked OK. But for those trips, I upgraded to a larger power pack that’s as big as my Lifeproof-encased cell phone, and slightly heavier. Boy, was I glad I did! My new “juice” can charge multiple devices at once and still have power left at the end of the day! Totally worth the investment – as is an extra set of power cords just for your mobile office.
Also worth considering, to keep everything contained and organized:
Bluetooth/earbuds/earplugs – Don’t forget these, either! Essential for conference calls from the park, listening to music while you work, and/or blocking out other kids’ screaming so you can concentrate (because of course, that would never be your angels, right?). (Did I mention I have earplugs stashed all over our house for when certain little people get a little too rambunctious?)
Appropriate sun-blockers and bug protection – For you AND your gear. Ideally, you can sit in some shade somewhere. If not, don’t forget the sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat, at least. Read this post to learn more about avoiding bug bites, including which options could melt your protective device cases (!). And remember that your devices will not be happy out in the hot sun for too long, as I’ve learned the hard way. Devices are also not fond of sunblock, sweat, etc., which is another reason to consider a protective case (see above).
Hydration and leakproof insulation – If you’re working away from home, you need to stay hydrated. (As do your kids.) So bring plenty of water for everyone. And make sure it’s in leakproof containers (preferably insulated ones) so your beverages don’t get your devices wet in transit. My personal favorites are Contigo Autoseal containers, which lock closed; this post includes leakproof options from grownup mugs to sippy-cups.
Human energy sources – Not just snacks for the kids, but whatever will help keep YOU at peak alertness. Caffeinated beverages are one option, but not the only energy-booster. While I’m a fan of dark-chocolate-covered coffee beans, they tend to get all melty in summer heat; so for summer, I switch to some strong mints, since peppermint can boost alertness and keep you mentally sharp. Peppermint essential oils also work.
Layers – A large, lightweight scarf or extra-large muslin blanket is a key addition to your mobile office. It won’t take up much space but can help shade you from the sun, provide a place to sit, and shelter you from a breeze or an air-conditioning draft you can’t avoid. A super-compact packable windbreaker, long-sleeve sun shirt, or your favorite jacket will work too.
Other optional items*
(*only summer mobile office must-haves if you’re with your kids)
As I noted above, I’m writing this while attending a weekend conference, so my current summer mobile office doesn’t include kiddo paraphernalia. But if I WERE with the girls right now, depending on where we were headed, I’d also consider these site-specific add-ons:
A small first-aid kit – Because, you know. Adhesive bandages, at the very least; a tube of hydrocortisone cream for bug bites is also a good thing to tuck in. Pocket-sized commercially-ready kits are a great, inexpensive option.
Activities – If you’ll be at a pool, park, or museum, your kids should have plenty to keep them busy, But if there’s a chance one or more of them could get bored, some small containers of bubbles, a small assortment of sidewalk chalk, a pack of cards, a few baby toys or an older-kid fidget, or (if your kids are bookworms) a spare book or two can satisfy the bored child without their needing to interrupt your work in the process.
Boundaries – Want to make sure that your kids don’t stray too far away? Consider bringing some brightly-colored bandanas and rubber bands or hair ties. Put a small rock in the center of each bandana; gather up the corners, secure with a rubber band, and you’ve got instant boundary markers.!
Cash, excuses, and/or incentives – If you regularly spend summer afternoons someplace with a snack bar, or on the route of an ice-cream truck, you’ve got a few options. If you’re fine with getting them ice cream every day, more power to you; mine wouldn’t have room for dinner if we did that. Alternatives: “Forget” your cash somewhere else, and/or incentivize the process: Sure, you can have ice cream, IF you can play nicely with each other and let Mama finish working on her deadline first.
What would you add to this list of summer mobile office must-haves? Let us know in the comments!
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This post originally appeared on SuperMomHacks. It has been reprinted with permission.
Flossie McCowald was a teacher before becoming mama to Kimmie (now 8) and Essie (now 6). A country girl who married a city boy, she and her family now live in Suburbia, U.S.A. When not schlepping her girls to Scouts, Code Club, swim lessons, or church choir, she enjoys bicycling, cooking, crocheting, and volunteering. She shares all her parenting mistakes, screw-ups, and things she learned the hard way her parenting tips, tricks, and hacks to save busy parents time, money, and sanity at supermomhacks.com.