I'll be the first to tell you that my productivity screeches to a dead halt during school breaks as I become engrossed in Rainbow Looming with my son and acting out scenes from Frozen with my daughter. This summer I have a plan to maintain my work without spending a fortune on summer camp.
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Start a WAHM swap

Rally another one of your stay-at-home or work-at-home mom friends for a kid-swap schedule. You watch her kids (as well as your own) one or two days a week while she work, runs errands and the like, then one or two days of the week she takes the kids while you take care of business.

Set up some individual activities

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Instead of plopping your kids in front of the tube for an hour while you take a conference call, plan ahead and create some fun activity stations that your kids can do independently so you can get through the call without interruption. Creating activities that are age appropriate and individually geared to each of your kids is the key here. Putting my son in front of a stack of books will keep him entertained for hours. But my daughter? Not so much. But she'll spend a solid 30 minutes (and at only 4 years old, that's the best I can hope for) on seek-and-find activity pages.

Find out what holds your kids' interest and create activities around those things. It's also a good idea to build in some "independent time" — starting at about 15 minutes when your kids play on their own without your help setting up any crafts or games. This will help get them off on the right foot when it comes to being able to entertain themselves as they get older. I do not suggest trying this five minutes before a conference call for work, however.

Take advantage of the local resources

Summer classes offered from the city or local school districts are generally a lot less expensive than sports or activity camps at day care centers or sports facilities, and are only a few hours a day so your little ones don't have to spend too much time away from Mom. Your neighborhood church's vacation bible school offerings are another fun activity for kids — many are very inexpensive, ask for just a small monetary or materials/snack donation or are even totally free of charge. These activities are a nice, short break away from home for young kids and give you a little break to focus solely on work and even maybe an hour or two of you-time in your week.

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Ask Dad to pull early A.M. duty

I'm a master at burning the midnight oil. But it's pretty rough when my son pulls the sheets back at the crack of dawn asking me (oh-so-sweetly) to pour him his favorite cereal. Luckily, my hubs generally steps in when he knows I've been pulling an all-nighter and lets me sleep in while he gets my son his breakfast and entertains him with some early morning "boy chat" or cartoons.

Schedule in some off-duty time

Instead of spending all day trying to toe the line between work mode and mom mode, schedule some time that you can dedicate 100 percent to your kids. Take them swimming, go to a movie or just pull a bunch of board games out of the closet and challenge your kids to a marathon game day. By giving them your undivided attention, you're helping them understand how important they are to you — so when you ask them to spend a few minutes playing independently (or with one another) in their rooms while you take a work call, they won't cling to your leg crying out with desperate pleas for your attention.

And, yes, sometimes the tube will just have to do

Here's the thing — I used to spend a lot of time feeling guilty about the fact that my kids sometimes watch too much TV while I meet a deadline. But I had to give that up before I drove myself crazy. This is real life. There are summer days when, yes, they stay in pajamas and veg out to Disney Jr. until noon. But those are nicely balanced with trips to the park, zoo and children's museums as well as play dates and weekend road trips. The reason I'm a work-at-home mom is so that my husband and I can provide them those opportunities instead of sending them off to a childcare center all summer. So if you're a guilt-hoarder like me, I implore you to make like Elsa from Frozen and let it go. It will work wonders for your psyche.

We want to know^How do you balance work and taking care of your kids during summer vacation? Leave us a comment below.

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