For many working parents the school holiday period can be a challenge, particularly if they have younger children and are not taking any leave from work.
Being a team of parents ourselves (at Parents At Work) we know this juggle very well and we asked our partners at Working Parents Connect to share with us their best tips for surviving the juggle during the holidays. Here's what they had to say...
1. PLAN AHEAD – this is probably stating the obvious and is always easier said than done, but a couple of weeks can get filled up fast! So, book in those play dates, babysitting arrangements and community activities. An ‘extra special day’ planned for the end of the school holidays can work well too. But don’t forget to schedule in some lazy all-day-in-the-PJ’s days and know that as it goes with children – it won’t always go to plan – and that’s ok!
2. TAG TEAM IT – Gather your village – school friends, extended family or perhaps neighbours. If you have to work, or just need some time out for self-care, do you have a trusted person who can look after your children for a day? You can then babysit for them or perhaps cook them a favourite meal or two.
3. COMMUNITY CONNECTION – Most communities have an abundance of offerings in the school holidays. The local library is always a great place to start and is usually free. Sports clinics, art workshops, school holiday programs, YMCA, Aquatic centre, and the Museum are also great fun! If your child is nervous about not knowing anyone or trying something new, see if they have a friend that might want to attend with them. A good tip is to try and space out spending – i.e. try not to have all the expensive things first up.
4. SET INTENTIONS AND EXPECTATIONS – Talk to your children about how it might be in the holidays and what you might expect from them. This could be especially important if you need to continue to work. For example, you can watch a movie of your choice at 2pm. Or you can use technology from 3-4pm.
5. SCHEDULE IN YOUR OWN SELF-CARE – Although it’s beneficial to practice mindfulness and being in the moment as much as you can during the holidays with your kids, it is really important to make sure that your tank is full – to help you be the best parent you can be. Make sure you have time out for a gym session, see a movie with a friend, read a magazine at a café or even just have a long bath with a glass of wine and a good book!
6. LOWER SOME EXPECTATIONS – School holidays can be a tricky time and although you might be busy with activities, it can be a helpful to relax on the routine a little! The kids might always be hungry (tip – a fruit and vegetable platter topped up in the fridge can help) and it might feel like the house is always a mess. It’s ok to be like Elsa and ‘LET IT GO!’ Let them get creative and turn the lounge room in to a cubby house! Less stress is better for everyone.
7. BORED CAN BE GOOD – Experts suggest that it’s not ideal for kids to be constantly entertained. Sure, some monitored screen time and structured activities are great, but so is being bored occasionally – it incites imagination! We love these 150 tips from the Dorky Mum’s blog for ideas https://ruthdawkins.net/2017/12/14/boredom-box-ideas-for-work-at-home-parents/
8. CREATE YOUR KIDS OWN ‘WORK STATION – If you have to work from home during the holidays, set up your own work station in a nice and light area, maybe the kitchen, and make one up for your kids too! You could give them their own assignment or set it up with craft items such as paper, textas and paint. It can work best if you work in shorter bouts. For example, work for 40 minutes and break and play and then start again. Other places to get some work done (albeit noisy) is to take your laptop to an Indoor Play Centre where you can still supervise your children.
“BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF, YOU’RE DOING THE BEST YOU CAN”
Article originally published by Working Parents Connect.
About Working Parents Connect
Working Parents Connect launched in October 2019 following the merger of JustMums Recruitment (established 2012) and Working Mothers Connect (established 2015).
With a network of over 75,000 parents across Australia, Working Parents Connect is the only recruitment agency in Australia to specifically support parents by offering family friendly employers online job advertising and recruitment services to support their talent acquisition strategies whilst also providing an online job platform for parents to search for flexible jobs and connect with a range of support services to help manage their work/family responsibilities.