For many of us, half term has hit the house like a sledgehammer to an ice block. One minute it was the two weeks Christmas holidays and the next minute February half term is here. Suddenly, we are faced with (wait for it) OUR CHILDREN AT HOME!
As lovely as it would be to take days off and bask in every school holiday with our children, for many of us it is neither financially viable nor realistic. For those of us who work at home and are able to flex our days the working day can change significantly. I’ve written about a typical day in my household as an example, showing a ‘normal’ working schedule and how it compares to the ‘children’ working schedule when it is the holiday period.
Normal: The period when no-one else is up. A casual, ‘ease into the day’ period.
Half term: This now becomes your ‘cram everything’ into two hours’ period before the cave children get up demanding food and attention.
Normal: This is the time when the house starts to wake, breakfast is being prepared (aka cereal packet opened and poured), the washing machine is on and the house is full of action. Now, you have the opportunity to start work and answer emails whilst sipping on your first coffee of the day.
Half term: This is now the time to test your multi-tasking by making breakfast, checking the weather to make sure the list of activities hasn’t been ruined by rain, relaying the itinerary of the day to the children, answering emails on your phone and drastically swallowing gulps full of what is now cold coffee.
Normal: By this time, you would have worked for a few hours, answered every email, made a list of tasks for the day, had a lovely, peaceful coffee and even put washing out to serve as your ‘break’ from the computer imprint.
Half term: Mid-morning time is like ‘morning’ never existed and everyone is hungry again. You too feel ravenous and you can feel your hair start to fall out already. Washing has been crammed in the machine, food is being scavenged and the weather has dramatically changed and all the children are demanding your full attention. The computer, at this stage, starts to gather dust.
Normal: Lunchtime is usually bypassed by an influx of projects with quick turnarounds. A quick snack is eaten at the desk and you are in that ‘zone’ to work continuously for the next three hours; occasionally changing the song list on YouTube to avoid that thud, thud music which slips in unexpectedly.
Half term: The fridge is suddenly empty from the piranhas who demolished the contents within the first two hours of being up. The children are now bored, hungry and in a house full of toys, have nothing to do but argue, whine and are worse off than any other child in the world. The computer has now shut down by itself.
Normal: This is the period when it is in the middle of lunch and school run time. If you have a small child or just had a baby this is often referred to as ‘nap time’. This is that period when you suddenly need that burst of caffeine to get you re-motivated for the afternoon and you find yourself soaring with innovation (aka sugar).
Half term: This is film time.
Normal: At this point you are tying up the last of the immediate projects, assigning schedules for the next day, answering more emails and compiling a list for tomorrow’s events – all in time for school run which, you know, will dominate the next hour.
Half term: Still film time.
Normal: The school run has been and gone, dinner is on, homework diaries checked, children changed and playing (nicely together), clients have responded in positive form to jobs completed earlier in the day and the world looks promising.
Half term: Everyone is hungry and going crazy. Children are ratty from watching a whole film together, food is being demanded (and it has suddenly dawned on you that you forgot to get the meat out for tea), phone is buzzing with emails, sounding like a police siren at top volume and the computer has decided to ‘update’.
Normal: Everyone eats and listens to each other’s relay of the day’s events. Half term: Everyone eats in silence.
Normal: Work has been temporarily put on hold until children are bathed, kissed goodnight and left reading before bed.
Half term: Children have now been bathed, kissed goodnight and left reading before bed. You, on the other hand, have collapsed in a starfish position on the bed.
Normal: Work has now resumed and your mind is fully active to start, action and complete tasks that were set for tomorrow. Excitement is running at high speed and you are feeling great at how productive you are being!
Half term: The bed is feeling so comfy and inviting that to pry yourself from the starfish position is becoming more and more difficult.
Normal: At this point you are winding down for the evening, happy at everything you have accomplished and everything that is left to do has been listed so that you can relax with a good film or book.
Half term: At this point you are snoring (in same starfish position with clothes on).The washing is still in the machine.