It’s bittersweet isn’t it? You look forward to fun day trips, slower morning routines and some welcome bonding time to reconnect with your child. And at the same time, you panic about work deadlines, paying for extra childcare as well as days out and fitting everything in.
It’s one thing being a working mum during term time, but it’s another thing altogether during the summer holidays. The guilt, the financial worry, the pressure …it can send you into a spin.
I work with lots of people who face the double juggle every year and as a mum entering this phase myself, I thought now would be a good time to share some of the advice I’ve come across. If you have any other ideas, please feel free to share them in the comments below – it might help someone else!
I don’t have one magic solution for everyone. But what I can offer is some sound advice and a few ideas which you may not have considered. I really hope it can help turn that feeling of impending doom into one of control, relief and excitement.
Change your working hours
If you work for someone else, ask your employer if you can flexi work – start at 7am and finish at 1pm? Any missing hours you could make up before or after the six-week break. Then you have all afternoon to spend with your child without relying on childcare for the whole day. Also, it might be worth knowing that if you’ve worked with the same employer for over a year, you are entitled to unpaid leave for up to four weeks a year. Check out your unpaid leave entitlement with your HR department.
If you work for yourself, can you rearrange clients to evenings, or work early mornings before the madness starts? Could you get up super early and get the most difficult work out of the way before your child wakes up, and leave the easier stuff like e-mails for when they are having lunch or playing in the garden?
For a temporary and informal arrangement, you could start a childcare circle with your friends. Sit down and work out a rota that works for all of you. Just remember that a large group sounds tempting, but your time will come! Can you safely manage lots of children – and do you want to?! A small group of really good friends might be a much better option. And even with the best of friends, setting some ground rules is sensible.
Depending on the age of your children, how about a shared nanny? Often a great, highly qualified nanny will be in between jobs, or maybe their employers are away on holiday. Snap them up! Have a look online for holiday childminders.
Forget the idea of what you think it’s like, and how your child will cope, until you’ve given it a try. There are some excellent holiday clubs around which offer the kids so much – archery, mindfulness, swimming, theatre school. I’ve known so many mums who’ve spent a whole day at work worrying about their child at holiday club, waited eagerly for pick up time, only for the child to point blank refuse to leave! They’ve loved it so much. Find something your child is interested in and search for a club. Also, ask their friends mums if their child is using a holiday club. A friendly face will help with that initial drop off.
Plan, plan, plan
As much as the school run can be a pain, having timings and routine to stick to gives you purpose and control. Having the same during school holidays can help some working mums. So, get to grips with the logistics and put everything into a calendar which your partner or family members can access. Let’s not sugar coat this, you’re going to be exhausted! So, being able to fill up your coffee cup while checking your events for the day is one less thing to worry about. Take the time to plan in advance and it’s all done for you. Even small things, such as suggestions for a rainy day – library, arts and crafts, reading, cinema. Pop these things in your calendar for back up plans and there’s no last-minute panics to be had.
Remember, this is your summer too and you want to be able to enjoy it –not just survive it.
This post was written by Laura Duggal. Laura is a Career Coach, she has worked within organisations, with individuals and as an associate supporting women through different stages of their careers for almost 15 years. She’s a qualified and accredited member of the European Coaching and Mentoring Council. Her background in HR, her skills in coaching and her experience as a parent mean that she really understands what’s happening from all angles. She lives in Cheltenham with her husband and young daughter and works online as well as in person with clients nationally.
If you would like more information on how her return to work coaching programmes might benefit you or your organisation you can contact Laura below: