This article first appeared on The Carousel, by Michelle Broadbent.
Didn’t the kids just go back to school??? While we have become adept at working with kids at home with us, I have enjoyed having my little darlings educated (and entertained) by someone else for the last few weeks. Now we are looking at another two weeks of blending kid-wrangling with our paid work – with no Google Classroom to fill in part of the day.
Here are some tips to help you manage the juggle without a struggle:
Make a Plan
Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance (and Parenting).
If you take a little bit of time today to make a plan, the school holidays will be manageable. You will be able to get your work done and still have time to spend with your children without being tethered to your laptop.
- Get out your diary and schedule in all the important stuff – client meetings, deadlines, deliveries, etc and the work required by you to make them happen.
- Then make a list of your non-negotiable work tasks. These will be different for everyone. Factor in how much time you need to spend each day or week on these tasks, what time of day works best for you to do them then schedule it in. Be realistic to avoid setting yourself up for failure (are you really going to be able to get any work done the morning you are leaving to go away???)
- You now have a very clear picture of when you are working and when you are free to spend time with your children. Now you need to consider how you are going to cover the work time and what you will do to make the most of the family time.
There are tasks that we do regularly in our working week which could get done before the holidays start. This may mean getting up a little earlier each morning (or go to bed a bit later you night owls) but you will appreciate doing the extra hours now to save time next week.
It Takes A Village
Mothers do not have to do all the kid wrangling alone. If you haven’t already had the conversation, see where your partner can be of support. It might involve taking some full days of leave to spend with the children. Or consider tag teaming a couple of mornings where you get up super early to work then he starts his work a couple of hours later than usual (or vice versa).
For those of us who are blessed to have grandparents and other willing family members close by, school holidays are a wonderful chance for them to spend time with your kids.
If you don’t have family you can lean on, why not do a swap with another family where they take your kids for a day (or part of) and then you take theirs another day in return. No time to reciprocate these holidays? Offer to help them out another time – babysit for a date night, pick their children up from school, do their shift at the canteen.
There is an abundance of school holiday activities on offer for kids. No matter what they are into whether its music, sport, crafting, coding or cooking there is something to fill in a day or two. It is also an opportunity for them to try something that they don’t usually do during term time (there are only so many afternoons in the week for them to do all the millions of things they want to do). Co-ordinate with another parent so that you can carpool and make the most of the childfree time.
Kids do not care or understand how important what you are doing is, they only care that you are not looking at them so it’s important to try to manage their expectations.
- Communicate with everyone in the house what you need to get done and set some boundaries. Explaining to them that if you are able to finish what you need to do then you will do something fun with them when you finish – bribery… I mean promise of a reward works.
- Set a time limit and offer for one of the kids to be in charge of the alarm.
Be All There
The purpose of providing these tips is so that you do not feel compromised while enjoying time with your children no matter how much time that is. Think quality not quantity.
We often feel guilty about the lack of time so we try to do the most supremely (usually super expensive) exciting activity when we are with them. There is so much pressure to have an Amazing Time that as soon as the littlest thing goes wrong, everyone melts down and you wonder why you bothered in the first place (we’ve all been there right??).
Ask your children how they would like to spend the time with you. The holidays are meant to be a time for them to recharge so leave some blank space in the schedule. In an ideal world this work/family thing is going to go swimmingly but we all know life will get in the way. Children get sick, customers have emergencies – make sure you have space for contingencies.
Then put the out of office message on your email, turn off the notifications on your phone, be present and enjoy the madness… I mean the moment.