This week, school got out for the summer. As a work from home mom, my annual challenge is upon me – how to balance working and being a mom with the kids home all day.

My daughters are 5 and 9, and the thought of what a full-time babysitter would cost me gives me nightmares. Working from home, I love to have them home in the summer. The next two and a half months will involve balancing work, meetings, vacation, summer camps and anything else that tends to pop up in the summer.

Many of those working in social media like myself are work from home parents. During the school year, the schedule is easy to manage – work during school hours, take a few hours off in the afternoon to pick up kids and take them to activities. During the summer, that all goes out the window.

This will be my 4th summer as a work from home mom. Here is what I have learned the past few years about balancing work and kids.

– Set a schedule.

This is very important. Just like during the school year, having a daily schedule will set the tone for the day. It really depends on the ages of your kids and how many you have home. What works for me is to let my daughters play and hang out until mid-afternoon, allowing me to get as much work done as possible, then we go to the pool. Of course, if there are any camps or other activities you plan accordingly.

– Set expectations – for both your clients and your kids.

If you are going to be on summer vacation or having to work different hours because of summertime, let your clients know. Be upfront about it – they need to know when they can contact you. Also, tell your kids what you expect from them during the summer. With your schedule, tell them when you need to be left alone (if they are older) for a period of time each day or what you expect of them if you have a conference call. They need to know that even though you are home, you still have a job.

– It’s okay to bribe every now and then.

I do this more than I care to admit. We have a pool & waterpark we like to go to. I tell my girls if they let me get my work done, then we can go to the pool that afternoon. This especially comes in handy if I have a big conference call. The reality is that sometime we do what we have to do to get it done.

– Enjoy the summer.

Yes it may get crazy working with kids around, but it’s still summer and your kids are only kids for so long. If you need to take a day and just be a mom (or dad), do it and don’t feel guilty. Next summer your kids will be a year older and may not want mom or dad around, so soak it up as long as you can!

How do you balance working from home when your kids are home for summer? Please do share – I would love to know what you do!