How to get through the summer holidays as a working parent
by Claire Dickson, NABS senior support advisor. Claire is mum to two boys, aged four and eight.
The juggle is real during the summer holidays if you’re a working parent. Here are some tips on how to balance your work and home lives and, importantly, create time for yourself over this busy period.
- Term time is hectic with juggling school or nursery runs and making sure the boys have everything they need for school and clubs. So, the summer holidays are an opportunity to take my foot off the gas a little and slow down. My oldest son can articulate that having some ‘lazy days’ is what he needs to reset. It goes against my natural grain to slow down as I can feel guilty if I’m not creating activities for the kids, but when my children tell me they want to have a day off, that really helps me take a step back.
- I find my boys are happiest playing outside and doing free activities such as playing in the park, climbing trees, playing football, riding their bikes, drawing. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to organise lots of expensive, grand activities and days out.
- If you’re juggling work with childcare, it may be helpful to share with your manager and team about your responsibilities at home. Perhaps think about how you can structure your days to enable the flexibility for you to work around childcare. If that’s not possible, ask your HR team to explain your options for dependents’ leave or parental leave, or for taking some annual leave.
Your own wellbeing is important.
- Your own wellbeing is important. Try to factor in a little bit of time for yourself (even 10 minutes) so that you can decompress. In my case, this is often just half an hour early in the morning before everyone gets up.
- Accept help from friends and relatives wherever you can for childcare or running errands.
- Couple something you enjoy with something you’re doing for the kids: make yourself a cup of tea you can enjoy while you’re reading bedtime stories or doing a jigsaw puzzle.
Make sure you have a lunch break when the kids do.
- Make sure you have a lunch break when the kids do, so you’re not running on empty by the end of the day.
- Make the kids’ lunches the night before. This is helpful timesaver ifyou’re working from home and have a limited lunch break.
- Notice your boundaries between work and home life and if you are overcompensating by working extra hours. Ask yourself what you can do to address this.
- Speak to friends, relatives and colleagues who may also be juggling work and home life, both as a way of sharing and for a listening ear but also to share tips (and maybe childcare!).
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and have some spare time during nap time, after bedtime or even before the children wake up, take part in this guided meditation to help ground you.