I can still recall one of the first times I was ever hit with a bad case of “Mum guilt” My daughter was in her first year of primary school, the summer holidays had just begun and the entire 6 weeks loomed over me.
I vividly remember other mums gushing with enthusiasm about how wonderful it was that the kids were home for the summer and I found myself awkwardly agreeing that “it absolutely was a magical time and yes, I also wish it could last forever….” As the kids would say, my pants were indeed on fire.
You see, as a single parent running their first business from home, I didn’t yet have the luxury or financial resources for summer clubs and camps, let alone taking the summer off. It was just us, and I had no idea how I was going to manage the 6 week stretch when the first week alone felt like a month!
Now it should of course go without saying that I adore my children (I have since acquired two more!) and whilst quality time with them is deeply valued, the realities of juggling summer holidays around running businesses and working rarely feels “magical”. In fact it can feel downright difficult. Balancing work whilst ensuring your kids have a restful and fun summer requires a certain level of skill! So over the years I’ve developed a few practical strategies that not only saved my sanity but increased the likelihood of getting work done, whilst ensuring that the little ones enjoy their summer too.
Give yourself some grace
Lets start here shall we?! Whilst “Mum guilt” feels real, it shouldn’t. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard the expression “Dad guilt” due to having to work and neither should you! Do the best you can with the tools you have, be gentle with yourself and extend some grace and compassion for all that you’re handling.
Create a timetable
It doesn’t need to be rigid or packed out to the max, but if you can clearly communicate with you kids in a fun way what’s on the agenda, for example a wall chart with stickers and activities, it can make a huge difference. This not only gives them specific things to look forward to, but it also helps them to know when you are needing focused time to work. My eldest daughter was always happy to exchange 45 minutes of me working on something uninterrupted if she knew that afterwards it was time to go to the park!
Connect with others
It's easy to think that we're the only ones struggling, and if you're carrying shame around that struggle, it's even harder to speak up and ask for help. However, I guarantee taht you won’t be the only one trying to create balance this summer! Reach out to friends and other trusted parents within your network and community to see how you can support each other. Perhaps there’s an opportunity to organise a weekly play date swap, allowing the kids to play and each participating parent to have quality time to work.
Let it go!
There’s no denying that work is important, and if you’re anything like me then you also don’t want the house looking totally trashed for the next six weeks either…But there will always be more laundry do, projects to work on and deadlines to meet. If only for the summer, let go of a few things that you’d usually like done. After all, ironed clothes are overrated and mess is just a sign that your kids are making memories…
Which leads me on to my final point...
Don’t forget to carve out time to make memories
At the risk of sounding cliche, it’s all too easy to get caught up in being busy and lose sight of how quickly time flies, but little ones don’t stay little for long. Our never ending to do lists fail to acknowledge that being present, for yourself and your kids, is in itself deeply important and carving out quality time together, whilst a juggling act, is not one you’ll regret.
I hope this article provided some value and inspiration on your journey. If you'd like to work with me through my 1:1 coaching program then I'd love to hear from you! Simply send me a message me via email@example.com