Nicole Dash is a mother of four, the author of the popular mommy blog Tiny Steps Mommy and the founder of Play, Work or Dash, a company that offers entrepreneurs both child care and a communal office space where they can work. As both a mother and entrepreneur, Dash understands the unique needs and struggles of working parents and offers advice on how to manage both work and quality time with the kids—especially during the summer when they’re home from school.
What is some advice you have for parents who work during the summer?
I think if you work from home and you still want to give your kids the summer experience, just concentrate on the simple things you can do. Dedicate an hour [to] spend some time outside catching fireflies, blowing bubbles, having ice cream sundaes on the back porch after dinner—little things that can make it fun for the kids even if you have to work all day. You need to carve out the time to be able to give your work the attention it needs and the kids the attention they deserve.
What about parents with a lot of kids or very young children?
It’s so hard in this area and very stressful trying to find the right amount of child care for the summer, and people are trying to find camps and classes. I think [it’s important] to invest in the right support. If that means finding a pool of backup babysitters who can be called at a moment’s notice, [then] that’s one idea. Another [idea] is to create a co-op with other parents of young kids who can help you out and really create a community. Then the third [suggestion] is to think outside the box like Play, Work or Dash. Play, Work or Dash offers support up to three hours a day for kids who are 9 months to 8 years old. We can take care of your kids while you actually get all the work done that you need in our shared office space.
What about parents with children who may not take well to day care due to special needs?
At our business we find that because it is small, it isn’t overwhelming when they walk in, [and] it does have a homey feel to it even though it is a business, the kids adapt really well. Even the kids who don’t do well in group care settings tend to like it.
Do you have any specific advice for single parents who work during the summer?
One thing I always say in terms of time management is that, from the time the kids are really little, you can set up a structure in your home where you’re really teaching them the importance of blocks of time … Sometimes parents feel like they have to entertain their kids all the time, [but] you can teach your kids that there’s a time to play together with mommy, daddy or both, [and] there’s a time to play alone and have quiet activity time. You can even create a chart where you say, “This block of time is activity time, this is chore time, this is reading time, this is play together time,” and really map it out and put [on] a timer even.