Juggling work and family life over the long summer holidays requires a particular skills. Coach Amanda Alexander gives some tips on how to survive the coming six weeks.
For working parents and working mums, who tend to be the primary organisers, school holidays can represent a planning nightmare! You will have six or more weeks of time to fill for your children, well aware that this “should” be quality family time! You can’t help but think how the months and years are flying by and how, before you know it, the kids will be grown up and on their way. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take a six-week holiday as well?! But reality bites!
If you are employed, you are faced with a juggling act of childcare options and some hefty holiday club fees.
If you are self-employed, you realise that holidays are few and far between anyway as you work to develop your business.
You may need to juggle your parenting time between mum and dad and this is the time to see just how flexible your respective employers are. Some parents take it in turns – mum taking two weeks first and dad taking his when she goes back to work. While this might "cover" for four weeks, it is hardly an ideal situation.
Telecommuting or workshifting is really taking off in many companies and this might be the time to schedule a test run. If the boss will allow it, try and operate from home during the summer, at least part of the time, allowing you to be more flexible with your hours and spend a little time with the kids. If your workplace culture is not used to home working, plan in advance to demonstrate how effective and efficient you can be, by piloting this concept before the summer holidays come along.
As the kids get a little older, you will find that there are a whole host of holiday clubs on offer – a whole range from football to sailing to dance and drama. Do shop around as there is a vast difference in price, with many leisure centres or councils still offering very reasonable holiday clubs.
If, like me, you have more than one child and they are of different ages, they might be doing different activities in different places. Use your calendar, mark down all the logistical details and do a mental “walk through” of how it will all work in practice, allowing travel time after drop-offs to ensure you don’t double book yourself with meetings when you’re still dropping your child off at a club. It’s easily done!
Summer holidays might mean that we have to get really creative about how we fit in work, so now is not the time to be fretting about your work life balance because you’re working early mornings or evenings. If that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes!
If it all feels like a military operation, you’re not alone! As mums, whether we work or not, we tend to approach the long summer holiday with mixed emotions. Whilst it’s lovely to relax from the school routine, it’s a real shift in your own routine as well and will test your multi-tasking and organisational skills!
Amanda Alexander is mum to two fabulous boys and Founder and Director of Coaching Mums. Since 2003, Coaching Mums has helped thousands of working mums to swap a guilt-ridden, stress-driven vicious circle for virtuous circles of calm, confidence and fulfilment.