Life is a little different this year as we approach the Summer holidays!
In previous years, people would be getting excited as the time drew closer to the schools breaking up for their well anticipated six week holiday. Although working parents often had even more to do (dropping off at clubs, packing spare clothes, assessing the inventory on a daily basis, etc!). There was a feeling that school’s were out and the holiday season was upon us.
For the fortunate ones, it also meant a Summer holiday abroad at some point.
Why then, do we not feel the same enthusiasm this year? Without mentioning the ‘C’ word, I might be able to provide an idea or, at least, let you know how I see it.
The Juggling Act
It might be because you have not booked time off work (if only we got as many days off in the year as our children!) and you know that you are going to have more to contend with. It may be dropping them off and picking them up from various holiday clubs, taxiing them around to friends, shops, cinemas or other designated places, or if you have hit the jackpot, you can juggle more than ever and entertain the children while you are working from home and by the end of the day, feel more frazzled than ever.
So how can you reduce the stress on both sides in order to keep a realistic balance without feeling unproductive and a failure as a parent as every other one seems to be relishing the fact they can spend 24 hours a day with their children.
The positive mindset would steer you towards knowing that you have got this. You have, after all, experienced working from home as well as home schooling for the last 4+ months.
So this should be a piece of cake! After all, the children can do what they want to entertain themselves during the school holiday – no school work to think about, the weather is good, it all sounds too easy…
1. Make a Plan and Set the Boundaries
Set an alternative timetable for you and your little ones. Some of these slots should be clearly for you only, strictly no interruptions (unless there is an emergency of course)!
All children like to know where they are at, they are naturally creatures of habit and don’t necessarily like surprises sprung upon them every day so having a ‘schedule’ will help them organise themselves and (possibly) be less disruptive during the time that you have to work.
2. Entertainment through Online Resources
Children love direction. If this direction can be set up in advance, the less stressed you will feel with interruptions and constant questions.
There are so many online resources now that you can often feel overwhelmed about the plethora of activities offered to children.
A scavenger hunt in the garden can be fun on a dry day, a quiz for those children that enjoy educational exercises or setting them a dance or play to create and perform later in the day can channel their focus on performing which will provide you with some entertainment during a well-earned break during the day.
3. Eat Together
Don’t be tempted to fling a sandwich and bag of crisps in front of your child to eat while you run back upstairs to your computer to finish that sales strategy paper or pipeline summary.
Take this time to check in and spend some time with your children at lunchtime. Prepare food together, ask them to lay the table, talk about what they have done during the last few hours and discuss what they plan to get up to the for the next few hours.
Treat it like ‘half-time’. Evaluate what the morning brought and what the afternoon has in store. Thank them for being considerate as you got through your Board call without them interrupting and be sure to tell them what you have achieved during the morning – and that with their help, you accomplished x, y and z.
4. Exchange of ‘Playdates’
You are not alone as a working parent juggling balls and spinning plates. Having a friend over to play with your children (at a distance of course) can alleviate the need of you being the constant entertainment. Often, children together will get on with what they want to do and only bother you for food or drink.
The compliment can of course be returned. Your children can go to their friends’ houses which affords you the opportunity to get on with work as you would if they were at school, a definite advantage during the holidays.
5. Invest your Time in them
Give back to them. An hour in a child’s life will seem an eternity to them. Set a time that you will pause or finish your work day to give them your full attention.
During this time, you can really focus on what they have done during the day.
Celebrate their successes (with full attention on the dance or play they have worked hard to create), talk through any frustrations that have arisen (that made them cross with you when you said ‘not just now’ and help your children wind down during dinner with engaging conversation and a bedtime story.
Once they are happily tucked up in bed, you will be able to get back to the last few bits that you need to complete before enjoying the evening yourself.
Alternatively, just remember, tomorrow is a new day!
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