My blogging target is to write a blog post once in two weeks. This means a new post was due last Monday. Today is Friday so I’m behind by almost a week. This is due to the current school holidays. It’s not an excuse but merely an intentional plan to take things slow during the next four weeks. This dear reader is the focus of today’s post.
For working parents in Sri Lanka, the months of April, August and December is dominated by the school holidays. If you are a working parent, whether you work out of office or work at home, the holiday season requires some smart strategies for survival.
As a work at home mother, I cringe at the mere thought of the holiday season. Entertaining an overly active 5-year-old boy, caring for a 10-month-old girl, meeting work deadlines and taking care of the household chores is going to be double the usual challenge during the next four weeks. However like all other things we work-at-home parents (or any working parent actually) need to get through the holidays and also survive it. This is where flexible working options become the solution.
Here are some workable and flexible strategies for the holidays:
Take a break from work (if you can)
Being able to work from home gives me the flexibility to plan my work around my kids (It’s a privilege I cherish immensely). I can and usually do cut down on my work hours and plan my work breaks to coincide with the school holidays. As the saying goes, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’. This allows me to spend more time with my kids in a much more relaxed manner during the holidays. We usually plan for the family trips during this time and also spend quite a lot of time visiting extended family and friends too. As a result, we get to make the most out of the holidays as a family.
Work the graveyard shift
As I have the flexibility to choose when I work, I make use of the early morning or late night hours to get most of the critical work done during the holidays. These graveyard hours when the kids are all safely in bed is your time for uninterrupted work during the holidays. This would work for any work at home parent. Even the full time working parents who have some work flexibility in terms of work hours can make use of this approach.
Get support from family and friends
Holidays are the time you need to rely on your family a lot. Get support from the grandparents, aunties, and uncles or even close friends to take over the kids on and off. This creates a wonderful opportunity for the kids to mingle with their extended families and friends (which is quite rare and limited during the super busy school days) and strengthen those relationships. On the other hand, it provides you with a couple of days/hours each week to get on with your work. Use this time wisely. Plan for your client meetings, conference calls, and critical work tasks during this time. Working outside, away from the home office during this time tends to be more productive and effective.
Make use of holiday programs
Summer camp, summer school are quite common in the western world. It is not the same here in Sri Lanka. But yes, it seems to be an emerging trend here with a few good holiday programs being introduced in the recent times (lucky us!). Getting your kids involved in such programs would do wonders for them as well as for you. Knowing that the kids are spending their time in a nurturing environment, developing different skills gives you the peace of mind to focus on your work and also be guilt free.
Take the work outside and work on the go
Another benefit of working from home is the ability to work anywhere. So during the school vacation simply take your work with you. Take the kids to the park or the beach. While they have the best time outdoor, you can get some work done using your laptop, tablet or even the phone (three cheers to technology!) Make use of the new indoor play areas available in your local area. Let your kids (and maybe their friends also) enjoy these play areas for a couple of hours. You can sit inside and carry on with your work while keeping an eye on the kids.
Working on the go is great for managing your emails, doing online research, some high-level writing or even taking a few calls. Carve out some effective work time in this manner. It’s a definite win-win strategy as it allows you to make the kids mobile and engaged in fun activities in true holiday spirit.
So these are the strategies that help me to Make It Work during the school holidays. These might not work for everyone but depending on your own situation you can certainly find ways to make it work for yourself and your family. It simply requires some early thought and some careful planning.
How do you survive the holidays with kids and work? Please do share through the comments. I’d love to hear from you!