School Holidays July 28 2015, 0 Comments
The Work / Kids Juggling Act
I love the summer holidays. Breaking up brings a great sense of relief as there are no more school runs to think about, no more packed lunches, remembering of PE kits, who has homework due in and which school trip we have forgotten about…it is a proper break for the brain, much needed by parents, teachers and kids alike.
BUT…(and there is a but)…for those who work, school breaking up can also bring a lot of child care juggling and calling in of favours, which can be really stressful to manage. Summer holiday clubs, child care swaps with friends, calling on grandparents and working from home are what get me through the 6 weeks.
Working from home with two small boys however, can sometimes be extremely tricky so I thought I would share a few tips I have learned over the years about how to achieve a couple of hours of peace in the house with kids around.
Tip 1 – The More the Merrier
You may think I have lost my marbles suggesting even more kids in the house when trying to achieve peace, but actually if my boys both have a friend round, they are much more entertained and tend to disappear into their rooms or the garden for a few hours of playing, which means I can get some work done without being pestered. Choose the friends wisely though, I absolutely love bonkers kids who are full of energy and silliness, but if I am trying to get work done, I might choose a quieter lego building kind of a friend to keep my boys calmer…tactical invitations can be key here!
Tip 2 – Set the Kids Up
Often if I suggest to the kids “why don’t you go and build a lego train track?” they turn their nose up and react as though I have just suggested an hour of clothes shopping in Marks & Spencer. However, if I spend half an hour before I start working, setting up toys and activities, they tend to just get involved and start playing with them. Sometimes I set up a little Lego town with something quirky in it like a mini tech deck skate park and that will keep the boys happy for hours. So the trick is, don’t discuss it, just set up some play opportunities and see what happens.
Tip 3 – Put Them Out To Graze
My kids have a brilliant knack of suddenly being starving hungry just as I am in mid flow working or just about to take a really important call.
Preparing snacks and drinks before you settle down to work can be a godsend. Party food is so easy to create and so exciting for the kids.
A little tray of sandwiches, vegetable sticks and hummus, sausage rolls and a jug of juice is all it takes so that they can pick at the food and pour themselves drinks throughout the day as they want to.
Plus a box of ice lollies in the freezer…so cheap and easy but so exciting for the kids!
Tip 4 – Focus & Clarity
Be realistic about your to-do list when working at home and make sure the kids understand what you are trying to do. Set yourself a strict time for working and let the kids know when you will be finished…and stick to it. Then you can say to them, I can’t help with that right now but I will be finished in 2 hours and I can help you then. This helps them to wait for your attention as they know when you will be available again.
Tip 5 – Show Your Appreciation!
If the kids have pretty much allowed you a whole morning or even just a few hours of peace and quiet so you can get some work done, don’t forget to thank them for that and praise their efforts. Make it a positive experience for them. My kids have learned that sometimes at the end of a long “working from home” day, we will have something really special for tea or maybe a special treat pudding.
Sometimes, if there has been a week of lots of “working from home hours” we might go to the cinema or bowling at the weekend as a thank you for their patience and understanding. Some may call that bribery but I prefer to see it as a little thank you treat.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Did you know that if you are entitled to working tax credits and work more than 16 hours per week?
You could be able to claim back some of your child care costs, even in the summer holidays.
There is more information here Calculating Weekly Childcare Costs but you can also contact the tax credits helpline on 0345 300 3900 for help with this.