School holidays provide an opportunity to have fun with your children, but if you work from home you’ll need to find the right balance of work and play – for everyone! Too much fun, and your work will suffer. Too much work, and you’ll have disappointed kids.
Here are some tips to help work-from-home parents to juggle work and play during the school holidays.
- Write down a list of all your crucial work tasks at the beginning of the holidays (or the start of each week of the holidays if you prefer). Accept that you probably won’t complete everything you’d like to do, but of course be sure to meet any key deadlines during that period. Decide on the days and hours when you will need to work. If possible, delegate any suitable tasks to others.
- Together with the kids create a plan for the school holidays. Get the kids to help brainstorm any activities they’d really like to do. Include on the plan any formal activities you may have booked ahead of time, such as holiday workshops or camps; any play dates or sleepovers; some exciting outings, such as trips to the pool, zoo or movies; some opportunities for a run and a play at your local park or favourite beach; and some fun things to do together at home, such as a particular art, science or cooking activity. To avoid cabin fever, try to ensure the kids get a chance to have some exercise and fresh air at least once a day.
- Don’t forget to include your work times to the holiday plan. Explain to the kids at the outset that you will have to work at certain times, but that there will be plenty of fun each day too.
- Once the plan is complete, put it up in the kitchen so the kids can see what is happening from day to day. Follow the holiday plan and tweak it as arrangements change or new things crop up.
- You may find you need to carve out some work time during the early mornings, evenings or at the weekend when your partner or another family member is available.
- Share the load. If possible, pair up with a friend or family member who also needs to juggle work or other commitments with looking after the kids. One of you can supervise the kids for a morning, afternoon or whole day while the other works; then switch roles. Otherwise call in a favourite babysitter or relative.
- Prepare snacks at the beginning of the day. When you are ready to work, make sure you have a snack available for when the kids’ hunger strikes (always at the precise moment you sit down to work).
- It may sound obvious, but do try to be as focused as possible during your work time. Prioritise the essential tasks. Don’t get distracted by unimportant emails, social media or that load of washing that you forgot to put on earlier.
- Source some novel activities the kids can do for sustained periods either with each other or independently. These will of course depend on your child’s particular interests, but some possibilities include a new set of Lego, a science experiment kit, out-of-the ordinary art supplies and books by favourite authors. Another great activity is to ask the kids to sort through a heap of their old toys; they can rediscover forgotten favourites and you might even be able to convince them to part with a few to reduce clutter around your home. A movie afternoon complete with popcorn and a doona is usually a sure bet too.
- Don’t feel guilty about the need to work. However, if you’ve promised the kids a fun outing somewhere, be sure to enjoy that time with your kids without thinking about work or being distracted by phone calls, emails, etc.
Best of luck with the juggle!
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