The holiday juggle
July 23, 2019
You can’t look far at the moment without seeing comments and questions about the impending school holidays in England. Scotland are already in the thick of it and we’re all full of the same questions ‘what are you holiday plans?’, ‘how are you managing the childcare?’ ‘how you feeling about 6 weeks of the kid(s) being off?’. There are LOADS of really helpful suggestions out there (Guilty Mothers Club has a free planner download and some pointers for figuring out activities, and Amy Ransom is always a breath of fresh air for all things parenting – holiday chat or otherwise!).
This summer holiday brings a couple of firsts for us – the first ‘6 week’ holiday for my daughter and the first time for me as running my own business. We’ve had time together in the half terms etc, but there’s been a clear boundary between family time and work…this time is going to be a little different. We tried a local holiday club the last time my eldest was off and she cried…I’m just not ready to go there again! So we’ve got a mixed bag of me, my aunt and my sister (she’s much younger than me and starts uni in September so needs her time occupying…I’m happy to help) and there are going to be days where I’m working and parenting. It’s a set up I’ve pushed against until now – I’ve tried it before and it’s not gone well, but I’m hoping what I’ve learned in the past will help me avoid too many problems. I’m really grateful for the work I do because it really is flexible – I can’t stop working (unless those lottery numbers come up, you never know) but I can work at any time of the day and from anywhere.
I love Anna Mathur’s approach of reframing what you’ve ‘got’ to do into what you ‘get’ to do. It takes practice and probably habit breaking for most of us, but I think it’s such a brilliant way of looking at your ‘list’. I’ve definitely been in more of the ‘what have I got to do’ camp for a long time, and still slip into it now but correcting myself and bringing the approach to others is unpicking some of the restrictive (and often angsty) thoughts I can bury myself with.
I’m a work in progress when it comes to childcare – mainly because I get so easily distracted or think I’m not doing ‘enough’ to entertain the kids. Have they had enough fresh air? Do they need more vegetables? How much is too much Tree Fu Tom? I read a post of social media just before the Christmas holiday last year (annoyingly can’t find it again now) that was written by a teacher, I’ll have to paraphrase but it was basically a virtual hug to parents everywhere saying forget the pressure to do ‘perfect’, don’t worry about big days out, expensive activities and grand holidays – that’s not what the kids talk about when they come back. Instead they share the tails of PJ days, running round a land of make believe, lazy mornings, trips to family, watching a film with you…the list went on and was described much more vividly than I’ve done there, but hopefully you get the idea. I’ve really taken it to heart and it’s had a big impact on how we spend weekends and now it’s influencing my plans (or lack of) for the upcoming break.
Getting myself ready has been the most important thing this time around, which has felt so liberating to say out loud. There have been a few things around the house that I wanted to get straight and quite a bit workwise lined up – blogs, client meetings, workshops etc, because I know from previous breaks I’ve felt a mild panic that I wasn’t doing ‘enough’. We all know comparison is a bitch, and mine gets triggered when I’m out of routine and feeling like I’m not moving forward. The reality is different to the harsh words I’ve told myself – progress looks different, not just landing new clients and getting posts up on all the platforms, it’s much deeper than that. I also know that social media will highlight that trigger so I doubt I’ll go on there much over the holidays – which is probably the best thing all round!
I can’t plan for everything (if you know how to, slide into my DMs please!) but there are some questions that have helped me get my head straight, in case you need them, here they are…
What do I need?
Answers range from a big bar of chocolate to time for exercise to sending emails or writing articles. The important thing was that I got it all out of my head – the written list in front of me wasn’t as scary or as busy as I’d made it out to be. It’s meant I could share it with people I need help from too and has acted as an impromptu accountability appointment to get stuff done.
What do the kids need?
I took the advice of Guilty Mothers Club amongst others to have the conversation with my eldest about what she’d like to do over the holidays. She’s basically part sequin part glitter glue, so unsurprisingly her list featured crafting quite heavily and randomly a trip to our local town hall? I’m not questioning it, it’ll be free and if we walk it’ll tire her out! I’ve also pulled out a load of things she’s not played with for a while and I’ve organised all of the said crafting paraphernalia so that we at least start with a bit of order.
What can wait?
I’m not going to lie, it feels like they have a looooong time off and they do, but it’s not months and months. I’m speaking from a self-employed perspective here but writing down everything I THINK needs to happen between now and September made me go through with a critical eye about what actually NEEDS to happen. They were quite different lists, but that’s fine – as long as I do something with the info!
I’ll keep sharing over August how this all pans out – I’ve no doubt there will be more learnings to be had, but my moto is very much going to be ‘good is good enough’ and a bit of Cbeebies / Milkshake isn’t going to hurt!