The summer holidays are in full swing and whilst the little people in our lives are enjoying their freedom from the school classroom, parents who work face the challenges of finding suitable childcare – whilst battling with a heavy dose of working mum’s/dad’s guilt.
From the outside at least, it might appear that self-employed parents working from home have the best deal here with the ability to juggle home and work life all under one roof. But anyone who’s ever tried this, particularly with younger children, knows how difficult this can be.
On the one hand, you’re desperate to fill your children’s days with fun activities, days out in the sunshine (read: rain) creating happy memories and keeping them busy till bedtime. And then, on the other hand, you’ve got 7 emails to answer, 3 invoices to send out and 4 clients all expecting work from you by the end of the week – and there just isn’t enough time in the day. So what do you do?
Rally the Troops
Grandparents, children friends’ parents, aunties, uncles, next door neighbours – organise a schedule where you have a couple of hours each day where you’re child-free. This might mean returning the favour for other working parents but it will give you enough time to get your head down and feel productive.
Temporarily Change the Way You Work
Outside of the school holidays, you might enjoy a comparatively more relaxed work schedule where you drop the kids off in the morning and are sat at your desk for 9am. But in the summer holidays, it’s good to re-program the way you work, getting stuff done in short efficient bursts that don’t make time for cups of tea or staring off into space. To help with this, every night before you go to bed, make a list of things you want to achieve in the couple hours of free time that you have to work. Don’t overstretch yourself but give yourself enough to make you feel good about what you’ve achieved in a short amount of time, alleviating some of those work-related stresses.
Leave the House
Even if the child-care you have arranged is outside of the house, find a place that’s free from kids toys sprawled all over the house and the mountains of washing that might tempt you into a procrastination-fuelled cleaning spree. During the summer holidays, we see a substantial rise in the number of hot desk rental across all our UK business centres because they offer flexible working in a professional and productive office environment where you can pay by the hour and get stuff done.
Make Time for Treats
The financial impact of the summer holidays can be a real cause for concern for working parents. A recent article in The Guardian reported that over a third (36%) of parents are worried about the impact of the summer holidays on their ability to the pay the bills. But children’s activities don’t need to be costly to be enjoyable. Outside of your designated working slots, make time to go out and have some fun – pack a picnic and go to the park, take the kids swimming or to the cinema or get down to your nearest beach and build some sandcastles. Don’t feel guilty about not being able to organise full days out and instead enjoy this quality time that you have as a family. Remember that children are not known for their long attention span so this sort of schedule, with plenty of variety mixed with some down-time will work for them too.