I spend 7 weeks counting down to the school holidays, spend them in a muddled twist of guilt that I'm not spending enough time with my children or enough time on my work, get super sad when they come to an end and then the whole cycle begins again.
Right now I've got an hour's slot to do some work but before I can even think straight to do that I have decided to write this little post that has been whizzing around in my head for the past few days because I know that I'm not the only parent feeling all sorts of guilt this week. And it also might help to calm down my busy mind too, so that I can get the important piece of work done!
Be in the now
I think the most important thing for me is to be in the moment during the holidays. I cannot magically turn 24 hour days in 48 hour ones. I have the time that I have. If it's a working part or a hanging out with my children part I want to enjoy it, without spending the whole holiday panicking that at any given time I should be doing the exact opposite of what I am doing.
So, I'm doing my very best to follow the lead of my children and be right there in the moment and enjoy it.
Get a balance that works for everyone
When I am happy the rest of the family are usually happy too. I think a happy mummy really does make my family a happy one. If I'm spending the whole of the holiday stressed out and full of guilt, that's not going to be any fun for anyone.
I have been studying the art of work/life balance for our family in the school holidays for a few years now. I've been paying close attention to what my children want from the holidays and how much quality time with them do I need to feel happy about also working. And I think I get better at it with each holiday that we have.
I know that I actually put pressure on myself to organise more days out during the holidays than my children really want. Yes, they love to have some adventure days but they also love staying in their pyjamas all day and playing together at home. They need down time after the busy school terms, so I have got better at being realistic about how many trips out we all actually need in the holidays.
I have also learnt how much work time I need each holiday to stop me spinning into a stressed out mess and how many days of mummy working that my children can manage during the holidays. It needs to be a careful balance between the two. And sometimes it just doesn't quite work because of childcare or work commitments but Stef and I are as careful as we can be about planning things in the school holidays.
Letting go of superwoman
It is so easy to put so much pressure on yourself to work as normal during the holidays. To stay up all night to try and answer all the emails and act like nothing is happening at home.
As a society I think we should totally understand that school holidays mean that people who are working for themselves, especially if they are working on their own or only have a small team, are totally allowed to say 'sorry, things are going to be a little slower for the next couple of weeks because I am looking after my children.'
We are not all parents but all parents are bringing up the next generation. Children who will grow up to be important for the future of our world. Children of the world are precious, so let's help parents to look after them when they need to.
I know that if I'm able to enjoy the school holidays with my children without feeling guilty that I will be back fully refreshed and bursting with new ideas and energy. And that is good news for everyone!
Stef and I are actually designing Makelight to fit into the rhythm of school life. If we can make it happen we will be shouting about how and why in as many places as we can. Watch this space!
If you are struggling to make it all work this week, know that you are not alone. Here is a big hug for you. You are doing brilliantly. Celebrate that with some mini eggs! xo