As working mothers, school holidays and this time of year can bring mixed emotions. We are excited to spend time with our children, and looking forward to the change in routine. But we may also be facing a number of weeks where we need to continue to work, whilst our children are not at school. School holidays are a wonderful time for the whole family, but if we are worrying about how much work we still have to do whilst juggling children, the joy rapidly diminishes.
What can you do to help yourself enjoy the holidays?
Rather than using all our annual leave, or attempting to work from home but ultimately just getting frustrated, here are some tips to help you manage your time so you can both present with your children and able to be productive for work too.
With some good planning and a bit of flexibility, both kids and parents can have a lovely holiday time together.
These ideas should apply for any time when you child's routine changes, but yours does not.
Making the holidays fun for everyone
When we change our routine, we better recall what we did each day. Time feels like it slows down, and we feel like we are having more fun. This is one of the huge joys of school holidays - for children and adults alike! Our routines change, and therefore we are more likely to remember our experiences.
As a parent, knowing this can help us make the holidays more fun for our children and ourselves. It can be as simply as changing your usual routine to make life more memorable and fun.
After discussion with the brains trust on all things fun (my kids), here are some suggestions for ways you can liven up the school holidays even when you need to work. The key message is to make it fun!
Ideas to make the most of the summer
Making meals exciting needn't be costly. Certainly you can eat out at your favourite restaurant, but you can also pack a picnic and take it to the local park, or even your own garden.
You might decide to meet another family for an easy dinner at the beach after work, or catch-up with neighbours with a casual BBQ.
You might like to meet friends for lunch and nominate a set day each week that is "lunch day".
To delight the children, maybe have a backwards dinner (as it sounds, eat dessert first!), or have a snack food dinner made up of dips and vegetable sticks.
The idea of a staycation has really taken off in recent years. It's the idea of having a vacation or holiday, at home. Ideas here include being a tourist in your own town, having allocated "rest" days where you chill out and read books all day, exploring the museums and other amazing places your town or city offer.
Similar to the staycation idea, kids love to have an activity. But an activity needn't take all your time, or cost you a lot either. An hour at the local swimming pool, a games day with a friend, a playdate with a mate; these are all smaller, cost-effective options to keep the kids happy and entertained.
Most of us are well aware of the multitude of camps offered every holiday time, and whilst some book up very fast, with a little flexibility on your part, you can often still find a day or two available for last-minute bookings.
My kids love tennis, swimming, cricket, soccer, science and Lego based activity camps. Some are single day, others a full week.
So whilst this is not a new suggestion, it's worth mentioning again as utilising an activity camp for even a couple of days can be terrific when we need to work and the kids are still on holidays.
During summer holidays there are always many free events and activities on for adults and children. Some of the best are run by your local library, or can be found by doing a quick internet search. I tried "free kids events January" and added my local area, and had at least 20 items come up in the results that were legitimate, appropriate, interesting and local.
Child-minding swaps with other mothers
Taking this approach requires a little planning, but can be a wonderful way for your children to have fun and you to get some work done. Simply agree a day where your kids will go to a friend's place, and then return the favour. Great for you, and the kids love it too. After all, someone else's toys are always way more fun to play with than your own!
Enlisting the support of extended family
Yes, this is a very common one and I suspect the default option many of us pursue when we are juggling school holidays and paid work. Having a grandparent, aunt or uncle look after your children can be even more fun if you give them an activity. For example, my parents took my boys on a photography walk. They traipsed around the bush, practicing taking photos with proper cameras. The result was happy, tired kids who had learned new skills whilst also having quality time with their grandparents, outdoors and in nature.
Ultimately, making the most of the school holidays for ourselves and our kids is about getting the balance right between vacation time and maintaining our efforts with work. When we get that balance right with an injection of fun too, holidays are memorable and special for us all.
If you are interested in making the most of your life, whether it be school holidays or not - I’d love to support you as you create a life you love! Book your complimentary chat to talk about how I can help.