It’s hard enough for working mamas to juggle their responsibilities when the children are at school, never mind on holiday. I think it’s especially hard if you work from home because you will have to be really strict with your schedule and making sure that you actually work and don’t get too distracted by the kids, the house, the general day to day STUFF. I have found that since I started working from home, I often feel this horrendous sense of guilt that I’m not fulfilling some need in my children, which is made even worse when Reuben tells people that mummy works on her laptop at home. I swear people must think I just sit at home daily and play on the computer…bingo anyone?
Anyway, because I have been self employed for a time now and the business is thriving, I know that I’m going to be busier and busier than I ever have been before on a summer holiday. Fortunately for me I have the most amazing help from family, Adam no longer works and is with the children all the time as well and I’m very lucky that I can pick and choose what I do, meaning that I won’t do much over the summer that doesn’t involve the kids in some way. Working from my own home office while the kids have been old enough to be on holiday and actually notice that I am not 100% present, I have tried to be very organised in my preparations for the holidays! We’re lucky I’ve got a lot lined up through my work and what I haven’t lined up through work I have tried to organise a mix of days out and chill out days.
I’ve put together a few top tips for how to cope with the children during the holidays if you are a work from home parent.
1.) Enlist the help of others
It doesn’t matter whether you are asking friends or family to help you out, the main point is: ask. If you need to take a day to work then asking friends or family to entertain the kids is a better alternative to getting frustrated with them and their constant requests for things. You could even do childcare swaps – you have the kids one day and your friend has them another day – the kids are happy because they are playing with friends and you’re getting a day to yourself to do what needs to be done. This needs to be a guilt free thing, maybe organise one or two days a week – depending on your work load – that the children go elsewhere so you can really get on. If you don’t fancy that, then perhaps look into something like Bubble app where you can meets and hire a babysitter to come and play with the kids whilst you work – it’s a misconception that you have to leave the house to hire a babysitter!
2.) Organise with other mamas
If you have other mama friends who work from home, are self employed or have to go out to work, then set up a system to help each other out as I touched on above. Something like a rota to have each other’s children works really well. When one of you needs to work, the other can take the group out for a day. Picnics, home play dates and cinema trips are just a few things that work so well without costing the earth. Organise play dates with other work from home parents because they understand better than anyone what you are aiming for and how shit you feel when you feel like you’ve dropped the ball!
3.) Organise a portable workspace
If you can, organise a portable workspace. I work a lot from my laptop so on sunny days I take the opportunity to set up outside and let them boys play in the garden. If you can do this it can make your life so much easier, you can keep an eye on the kids and get on with your work at the same time. If you work off the computer, maybe look at taking the papers etc that you need with you.
4.) Set times and dates for your work AND STICK TO IT.
I suck at this. I allocate every second I can to work during the school term. Weekdays, excluding Wednesday because I try really hard to be with Edith on a Wed, are my days to work and if anything comes up I will almost always turn it down. During the holidays this goes out the window, but if you can, pick certain times you know you can work and stick to it. If you need to have meetings or conference calls they will have to fit into those times (unless really necessary). This will make organising time for you and the kids so much easier because you will know that time for work is going to be on this day, between these hours. Does it always work? Of course not, but having it in your mind is easier than getting stressed out over it all.
5.) Be kind to yourself
This is another thing I am abysmal at, being kind to myself! What I mean by this is, if you have a tonne of work to do, keep dinner simple or feel guiltless about ordering take out. If the kids have been fed and are reasonably clean (think hands reasonably cleaned of lolly stickiness in the paddling pool and faces wiped with wet wipes) then you have done a good job. They don’t need you to be superwoman with a freshly cooked balanced meal and a bath perfectly done. Chill out, it’s the holidays. As long as they live through the day and have something to eat, who cares?
6.) Plan ahead … For everything!
I’m talking about sitting down on a Sunday evening after the kids have gone to bed and plan plan planning. I usually plan a week in advance for what I want to do, though I try really hard to remind myself not to be too rigid. Once I have an idea of what I want to do, for example, Tuesday will be filled with work work and a touch more work, Wednesday we will be heading to the Sealife Centre so out for the bulk of the day and Thursday is going to be a work morning, followed by a playful afternoon at home; I then know whether or not I will be around to cook, clean or task. Can I make it to the bank on Wednesday? No, it’s got to be Tuesday or Thursday? Can I spend 40mins making lasagne on Tuesday and still fill my work quota? No, so it’s beans on toast that night, a slow cooker meal on Wednesday and lasagne will be fine on Thursday. Do you see what I mean? Plan ahead and you have an idea of what you need to do on any one day. Simples.
I hope this helps, I for one really can’t wait for the summer holidays, but I am also approaching it with dread after my work load increase this week. If you have any work balancing tips then please share them so that everyone who is a work at home mum can get some help!