The summer holidays will soon be upon us. The kids are excited. The parents perhaps less so as the annual quandary around how to juggle work and family commitments and how to keep your young ones entertained for what can seem like endless weeks, again rears its head.
For working parents and carers of school age children, it can be hard to come up with a plan that will enable you to spend quality time with your children and still deliver at work.
The rise in flexible working practices across the UK means that employers are more open to changes in working patterns over the holiday period, so you may find it helpful to discuss some of the options with your manager.
- Shortening your working week – the idea of working two or three days a week over the summer holidays is a good compromise for childcare and business continuity
- Working from a home base – if you’re not tied to your office, a spell of home working might enable you to keep an eye on the children while still providing the cover needed at work
- Splitting your holidays – we know it’s nice to have some family time, but sometimes parents need to consider splitting their holidays to cover the long holiday period. Having two separate weeks, rather than a two-week stretch off work can make the return to work easier too.
For self-employed parents, the holidays bring different challenges. While you're technically free to watch over your children, there is also a need to look after clients and generate new leads. Making smart choices around how to manage your time can help you navigate the summer break without it impacting on your business or your children. We suggest the following:
Prioritise urgent workIt sounds simple but during the holidays we really need to be clear about what needs to be done now and what can wait until the holidays are over.
Extend deadlines where possibleTry and renegotiate deadlines with your clients to make sure your workload remains manageable over the holiday period.
Focus on growthWhen you’ve got limited time to work, it’s important not to spend time on tasks that will not support your business growth or add value to what you’re doing.
Our biggest tip for organising your time over the summer holidays is to plan your family time in the same way as you would your work priorities. Get a wall planner. Share it with your children so that you are all clear about what’s happening when. This helps to set realistic expectations and enables your children to take some responsibility for their own free time.
Remember, when it comes to the school holidays:
- Share the burden and call in favours – you're not the only parent trying to get organised this summer. Speak to fellow parents and carers and see if you can share the care between you on certain days.
- It’s ok for children to be bored – we live in a society where we feel the need to keep our children occupied and stimulated 24/7. Think back to your own childhood when playing out and meeting friends in the park was the norm. Don’t be afraid to let your children have some real ‘downtime’ during the holiday – it encourages creative thinking and coping skills.
For more tips, read our previous blogs on encouraging children to be more active and how to get the most out of your summer break. Happy holidays…