How to survive the summer as a working parent
Working parents, this one is for you. Brace yourself, schools are out for summer.
So, as a Mum of three, a fellow working parent, running a business and a family I know this is a time where Mum’s and Dad’s all around the country are losing their heads.
For the record, I love spending time with my children, they are magical, and I could write pages and pages about how wonderful they are, but it wouldn’t make a very good blog. Parents, we all know our kids are a gift, we also know that parenting is not something out of a Disney film.
Whether you’re a full time working parent a parent full time, one that works flexibly or a part time working parent, juggling life with excited energetic kids who no longer have the confines of school to keep them entertained is hard work. So, here’s some thoughts on how to survive when the schools are out.
1. Manage your “working parent’ expectations
This one is particularly relevant if you have your own business. If you’ve decided you’re going to try and work from home whilst the kids ‘entertain themselves’ recognise that you aren’t going to be as productive as you like.
Kids smell when you need to focus, and they’ll be in there trying to play games on your laptop the minute you mention the word “conference call”. Working parent is an oxymoron. You can either parent, or work. The two do not sit gracefully together!
I learnt the hard way that work, and kids just don’t mix. There have been many times when I thought I could just get ‘a few little jobs’ done whilst the kids were entertained, but, it just resulted in me being more stressed and the kids having a rubbish time. It was a lose lose. I’m not a big advocate of trying to mix the two!
If you’re a perfectionist and find managing expectations hard, you’re not alone! Check out this Blog for further inspiration…..Help I’m a Perfectionist! What to do when your greatest strength is also your downfall
2. Keep your eye on the end game
I see many wonderful memes saying something like you only get 18 summers before your kids have flown the nest, and let’s face it by 13 they’re probably more likely to want to spend it with their friends than hang out with us.
It’s true, time is precious AND we also know that the days are long.
Being told that there’s only 18 summers doesn’t help when you’re pulling your hair out trying to patch together childcare so you can show up to the office looking remotely calm.
What it does is introduce even more guilt into the equation. You SHOULD be savouring every moment, you SHOULD be enjoying the summer, you SHOULD want to spend more time with your children. SHOULD’s are someone else’s opinion of what is right for you.
For the next 6 weeks you’re going to do your best by your children and yourself, it’s going to be a juggle, you’ll probably have days where you’re stressed and you’re shouting. We all know we want to be better than that. Don’t beat yourself up, keep your eyes on the end game. After 6 weeks all will return to routine and life will feel a lot smoother once again.
3. Plan, plan and plan
For some of you this is an obvious one. Of course, you’re going to plan, it’s what you do summer or no summer. However, I know that there are people reading this who are not natural planners. (That’s me by the way). When it comes to planning it takes me a lot of energy. But, it’s necessary.
Kids need structure, adults need structure. It helps us to stay calm, to know what’s expected and manage out time.
Get your spreadsheet out, plan your childcare, your meals, book online shops, arrange play dates, plan activities and put it out for everyone to see. Who’s doing drop off’s? And pick-ups? Which holiday club are they at? Do they need a packed lunch or not? Who’s responsibility is it to make those packed lunches?
This is basic stuff but, in those moments, where you’re busy and rushing out of the door to make your 9am meeting on time, you’ll know that you have this stuff all wrapped up – it’s one less thing to think about.
4. Ask for help
As a working parent, you’re already asking every grandparent, friend and fellow parent for help with childcare. I’m not talking about childcare here. Let’s focus on you, the parent.
If you’re finding it hard juggling everything ask for help. Mum’s – if you usually take the lead on parenting, ask your partner to do more. Dad’s if you’re the lead parent ask Mum to help out more.
Think about what you need. Often, we might just need reassurance that we’re doing a good job and the kids are happy. Who can give you that reassurance? Ask for it, it may not happen on its own.
And if it helps, just know, we’re all winging it. Check out this Blog for a reassuring read! Women, Confidence, Babies and Beliefs; How to be a working Mum
5. Working parents still need time for themselves
You’ll probably feel that when you’re not working you want and need to spend time with your children because they’re on holiday and you don’t get enough time with them. True, but your needs are still important.
To be the best parent you can be, you need to take time for yourself too. So, before you rush to pick them up from holiday camp, stop by your local coffee shop and take 30 minutes to pause, read a paper and catch your breath.
This is your summer too after all
6. Take time to think creatively
Having young kids and a thriving career is a challenging balance. If you enjoy it and your balance is right for you that’s perfect.
Many parents feel that they wish they could do something different or find a better way. I believe it is possible to create a life that works for you and your needs.
2 years ago, our son was born, he’s our number 3. I realised when he joined our family that the way I’d built my business wasn’t going to suit my life for the next 15 years. I didn’t want to push through 15 years of struggling through the juggling, so I took time to reflect, plan and make changes that would better suit my needs. I’ve had to make big decisions, step fiercely out of my comfort zone and, guess what, I’m loving it.
You can build a life that works for you
If you’re interested in finding out more I’m launching my online course “Discover your Passion” in the autumn and this is all about finding work that fills you with joy and meets your needs. If you think you might be interested, please join my community mailing list and stay tuned. You’ll also get my weekly blogs and articles direct to your inbox.
I hope to see you there!