I, on the other hand, have six long weeks of juggling children and writing, fun and deadlines, and, again with the frankly, it doesn’t get any easier, even though I’ve been playing this particular game for seven years now.
But I’ve learnt a lot along the way.
I know what you’re thinking. Why don’t I simply book them in to out-of-school care or summer camps and workshops? Two reasons – one is that I really like having them around. One of the reasons I work from home is so that I can spend time with the boys when the opportunity arises.
Secondly, I’m watching the budget. School holiday activities don’t come cheap, so it makes sense to do them yourself where you can.
Here are my top four tips for working from home in the school holidays.
Have a routine
I talk about routines a lot on this blog, as unsexy as they are, and school holiday routines are no less important. The boys and I have an agreement: we do the fun in the morning, which means heading out of the beach, going to the pool, seeing a movie, or catching up with friends. In the afternoon, I work for a few hours, while they entertain themselves, either at home, or with friends. Unless I’m interviewing or taking client calls, I’m more than happy to have other kids over here while I work, now that everyone’s old enough not to need constant supervision. So they play, and I work – mostly on things that don’t require intense concentration.
Note: there needs to be some flexibility in your routine. I am quite prepared for the fact that there will be entire days when I will achieve nothing more than a few phone calls and some social media work, because we are meeting friends for the day or heading out somewhere further away. I don’t beat myself up about this, but I do try to be ready for it, which means I need a few days’ notice for a ‘spontaneous’ day trip.
Be prepared to work at strange hours
I write at night in the holidays. Actually, I write at night most of the time but it’s particularly important at this time of year. If you’re not a night owl, you’ll need to do your ‘intense concentration’ at the other end of the day.
Know your limits
When the boys were first at school, I used to continue my workload at normal pace during the holidays. I realised how ridiculous this was after several very stressful weeks when I had deadlines and bored kids and just not enough hours in the day. So now I take on about half as much as I normally would. It’s really hard to say no. I get that. But for your sanity’s sake, and for the sake of your children having a few quality memories of this summer, it pays to be sensible.
Find a friend
I have a friend who lives around the corner. He’s an academic, who works from home in the school holidays. We have kids the same age and a tacit agreement in place. If he has a meeting or needs a few hours to work on his thesis, I take the kids. If I have a deadline or a meeting, he takes the kids. It’s a comfortable, easy arrangement and it has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. Seek out someone in a similar situation and do the same. One tip: be respectful of the other person’s time, and get your boundaries in place early. If you feel as though you’re the minder a lot more than the mindee, look elsewhere.
Do you work from home? What tips would you add?