As the school holidays juggernaut towards me, I know I’m not alone in having mini panic attacks of how to survive the school holiday work juggle.
Every year, I tell myself I will be better organised with holiday school, childcare and playdates, but every year I am caught on the hop. I have improved somewhat and have a few coping strategies to maintain equilibrium at home and work but I’m sure there’s more to know and try until I find something that works for us.
The first year I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights. I stupidly booked a number of blocks of time across the school holidays, thinking that was a good way to eke my time out to spend time with my children. However, I realised very quickly that I was spending more time handing over and picking back up than doing much quality work. The next year I booked a few different weeks for my children to go to their grandma. However, she lives over two hours away, and I spent weekends driving up and down the A1 dropping off and picking up (can you see a pattern!). As for the summer holidays in the pandemic - let’s not even go there.
So this year, I’ve booked off my holidays in one single block, and while the children are going to their grandma’s twice, it’s at either end of the holidays. I just need to find and throw a few holiday clubs in (rather late I know), invite a few friends around and then I’m hoping I’ve done enough. Realistically though, I know there will be some hairy points along the way.
I’ve also asked the experts aka the PRN team for their wisdom on surviving the school holiday work juggle. Some of them have been doing it for sixteen years.Their tips include:-
Start a spreadsheet! The May half term is best as the camps release their dates for the holidays which means you can get the pick of the camps that your child actually wants to attend.
If you are leaning on the kindness of family, get in early and book them in to make sure you have that support locked in.
Team up with fellow working parents and agree some reciprocal dates that fit with your respective patterns (if part time).
Take advantage of flexi-working hours (if you have them) Make sure to tell your colleagues & clients when your days & hours may differ, so they know when you’ll be about each day.
And if all else fails just make sure you have plenty of wine/gin.
I’m also lucky enough that PRN operates a family-first policy which is a life saver for working parents. This means that there is flex during the school holidays to take into account the different childcare solutions across the team. If need be, we can start early and finish early or vice versa. Or if we need to take a bit of time out of the day to drop children off at holiday clubs, it’s not an issue. Not having the stress of having to be present all the time, definitely helps and takes the pressure off.
One day, probably when the children don’t need looking after any more, I will crack it completely, but until then I will dream of a perfectly planned school holiday. And if anyone has any wisdom to share, then I’m all ears.