Working from home during the summer holidays

BY Sue Williamson

It’s the stuff of nightmare – you’re used to working from your home office (or your sofa for some) in blissful peace, fully in control of your own schedule and nicely settled into a productive routine. All of a sudden, the school holidays hit and your earlier life choices tear through your remote-working set up like a whirlwind. The extra time with your little darlings is more than welcomed, of course, but how on earth are you supposed to get any work done?

It will involve a bit more planning than usual and potentially some changes to your working schedule, but it can be done and here’s how.

  • Manage everyone’s expectations – Be clear from the start of the holidays that you will still be working and being in the house does not mean that you are free to cater to everyone’s every whim immediately. Of course, if your children are very young, you will need to help them out more, but older children can learn to deal with basic tasks themselves and respect that you must spend some time working.
  • Schedule – This is the easiest way to make sure nobody gets neglected and everyone knows what is happening when. Create a schedule for the upcoming week, making sure to allocate some time for ferrying to and from clubs and activities, going swimming or just spending some quality family time together. This means you know when you need to work and the children know when they must entertain themselves.
  • Accept help – Depending on the nature of your work and the ages of your children, it may not be possible to effectively work from home and deal with them being off school. If this is the case, try to arrange a day or two a week at a childminder, summer camp, with grandparents or set up a reciprocal agreement with a friend. Even if they don’t work from home themselves, the promise of an afternoon or two of free time in exchange for some babysitting generally goes down a treat. Don’t forget to make sure your partner/the children’s other parent does their share too.
  • Be flexible – This is one that many people find difficult; writing up a schedule and then having to deviate from it at a moment’s notice. If rain has put an end to a planned day out, one of the children falls ill or a work emergency crops up, you must be prepared to change your plans and juggle your time. Think about getting up earlier than the children (ugh!) or staying up later in the evenings to make the most of quiet time to get some work done.
  • Be prepared – What is likely to get you an hour or two of working time when the weather lets you down or the children simply aren’t willing to go out to play or amuse themselves? Whether it is Minecraft on the iPad, a film they’ve been desperate to see or a new Lego set to immerse themselves in, have some kind of “big gun” ready to roll out when you need it. Just don’t reveal it too soon…
  • Ditch the guilt – Your working time is 100% for work and your time with the children is 100% for them. Be fully with whichever of them you are supposed to be with at a particular time. No guilt about not getting enough work done and no guilt about not spending the full day in a Pinterest-themed paradise with the children. Let’s be honest, most of us are either likely to end up as a Pinterest fail, or do the activities ourselves because the children aren’t interested. You are not a superhero, and your best is most definitely enough.
  • Finally – remind yourself that it is only for six weeks and your lovely peaceful house, quiet coffees and Lego-free floors will be back soon. You know you’ll miss the chaos when it’s gone.

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