My top 4 tips for working from home in the school holidays

Posted on December 14, 2015

MY TOP 4 TIPS FOR WORKING FROM HOME IN THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYSIt’s that time of year again. Six long weeks of summer holidays stretch out before us and, frankly, the boys will need every one of those weeks to recharge and get ready for 2016.

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?


  1. Jo Carter

    Awesome tips! I don’t have kids, but I’m still living at home with my parents and little sister. I often don’t write at my desk in my room, but it’s important for me to have that space to go when it’s too noisy and I can’t concentrate at the kitchen table.

  2. Renee Mihulka

    Great tips! I also think it’s really important to clearly articulate to your kids what you need from them and that there will be plenty of time for fun and frolic if you just give mummy some time to do the stuff she needs to do. If you can explain the schedule and they know that they will be going to the beach at 3pm (and stick to it!) everyone will hopefully be calm and cooperative. Well, most of the time…

  3. nickywaywrites

    Great tips!! Especially the friend one. I’ll be using that to try and get stuff done!!

  4. Kathy

    These are all GREAT tips! I structure things a little differently but the basic premise of planning for a lower workload, and finding a swap buddy, is very sound.

    What we’ll probably do is mostly split the day – get out early to walk the dog, go to the park or shops etc, then I will work from late morning til mid-late afternoon, and knock off in time for beach / pool / late afternoon friend catch-ups. From past experience, my kids are most likely to go for a model that gives them my attention at both ends of the day, and that middle 4-5 hrs is when they are most amenable to amusing themselves and each other.

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