The end of the school year is in sight (or it may already be done and dusted for some of us!) and that six week stretch will soon be upon us. On the one hand there is the wonderful prospect of quality time with the family, heading off on holidays, exploring new places together, and not having to leap out of bed for the school run (whoop!) On the other hand though there is the dreaded juggling act between work and home life, figuring out how much holiday you can afford to take, who is going to look after the kids, and how you are going to keep them suitably entertained for that long!
As it’s now mid-July and, being fully caught up in the daily grind, I’ve only just realised that the end of term is near (oops!), I’ve been thinking about how I can keep my kids amused and myself sane while also making sure that work on my business is ticking over so that, come September, I’m not faced with a daunting backlog of stuff to do!
If you have also been contemplating how you are going to manage your work commitments, arrange childcare and still find time for fun during the next six weeks then I’ve got you covered! Download the 3-page summer holiday planner below, grab a notebook and work through the accompanying prompts in this post, and get all your ideas out of your head and onto paper so that you can create a plan for the summer that works for you and your family.
Set your intention for the holiday period
Before you start making any plans, consider how you would really like this time to go. Imagine it is the beginning of September and you are chatting to a friend about how well the summer holidays have gone, what would you be saying to them? How would you be feeling?
What steps do you need to take to make your vision a reality? Also, what pitfalls might you need to avoid and how will you do this? Think back over past holidays and try to identify what worked well before and what did not work so well.
Finally, if you had to summarise your intention for the summer holidays in one single word, which word would best reflect your intention? Write down that word and keep it in sight to remind yourself of your intention (especially on the days when you need it most!)
Manage expectations and establish boundaries
There are only so many hours in the day and when the kids are at home 24/7 wanting your undivided attention and an endless supply of snacks this is especially true! I’ve had to lower the expectations that I place on myself considerably during half-term periods otherwise it is just a one way ticket to stress and overwhelm.
I’ve learnt not to overload my day with work related tasks or appointments, to let go of perfection, to be flexible with any deadlines that I set, and to decide when I am going to put the work down and have some fun (and then stick to that decision!) To help you find a way to manage your own expectations, and those that others may have upon you, and create more balance during the holidays, have a go at journaling around these questions:
- What standards might you be holding yourself to that you need to let go of? This can be super liberating!
- What expectations do you think others have of you and how can you manage these expectations over the summer holidays?
- What expectations do you have of others? (Are these expectations realistic and fair or do you need to adjust your expectations during this time?)
- If you are able to influence it, what working pattern would be best for you and the family?
- What would a good balance between work and home life look like to you during the summer?
- How will you ensure that you are able to enjoy any free time that you have available and be fully present with the kids?
Whether you are working from home or going into your workplace during the summer it is useful to clarify who in the family is working (and when) and then set some boundaries. This could mean communicating, and sticking to, your start and finish times, telling your family when you can and cannot be disturbed, having a designated work space, letting colleagues or clients know when you are contactable, and ensuring any handover/cover arrangements are in place while you are away so that you can really switch off!
It is so easy to let our routines slip during the holiday period only to end up regretting it once the school term begins. So, what are going to be your ground rules for the summer holidays? What routines do you want to maintain (e.g. bedtimes, mealtimes, daily chores, etc.)? What activities or hobbies do you want the kids to keep up during the holidays? What behaviours do you want to encourage (e.g. good manners, gratitude, resolving conflicts amicably, sharing, helping others etc.) and how will you do this?
Call upon your support network
To enable you to fulfil the work commitments that you have, or just to get you through the six weeks in one piece, it is helpful to agree in advance who will be on childcare duty for each day/week of the holidays. Book in any childcare or holiday club placements that you need ASAP and arrange all the logistics that comes with getting the kids to and from those activities! Once you have the childcare arrangements together, confirm all the details with those who are involved and essential to the plan running smoothly (e.g. your partner, grandparents, childminders, nursery staff etc.)
What other support do you need during this time? You might need to make arrangements with your partner or another family member/friend so that you can have a few hours to yourself or perhaps there are people in your life that you would love to connect with over the holidays so that you can have some much needed adult conversation.
Appoint your activity committee
I know how it can feel when you are racking your brains for interesting activities to keep the kids occupied only to find that what you thought would be an amazingly fun thing to do is then met with complaining and sighs of disapproval. Rather than put all the activity scheduling on your shoulders, ask your nearest and dearest to assemble around the dinner table and get everyone’s input. Make a list of their suggestions and then let the negotiations commence!
To inspire the discussion, and prompt thinking beyond playing Minecraft all day, check out some parenting blogs/Instagram accounts or google ‘summer activities for kids’ for creative ideas that take into account all weathers, tastes and budgets. So far we’ve got a huge Lego project planned (going to rebuild some of our old sets), a couple of cinema trips, go-karting, crazy golf, museum visits, a ‘crafternoon’, the annual toy clear out, birthday celebrations, and a few days away in a countryside cottage.
As we all know, some activities can be pricey and holidays can really drain your bank account! Like when you happen to glance at the price on your admissions ticket and then start adding up all the other things you’ve paid for during the day and it makes your eyes pop out! So, take a look at what funds you have available for the summer holiday period, find out how much activities are going to cost before you commit to them, establish how much you are willing to spend on an activity or a day out, and then create a plan that will enable you to stick to the budget you have set.
Once you have put a list of activities together (that wont break the bank!) decide when would be the best time to do them. If it will help you to commit to doing them, draft up a schedule so that you know, more or less, what activities you will be doing each week. Obviously there will be days when you have absolutely nothing planned and are just going with the flow and chilling out (I actually happen to LOVE those days!)
What can you do for yourself?
As well as accommodating whatever it is that the kids want to do over the summer holidays, don’t forget to give some thought to the activities that you want to do during this time (either with or without the kids!) This is also your opportunity to unwind so take a moment to write down a list of all the things that you would like to do.
Next, write down the tasks (these can be work or home related) that you need to get done during the holidays in order to achieve, or work towards, any objectives that you have set and then get prioritising! Looking down your list of tasks consider:
- Which tasks will really make the difference and move you towards your objectives?
- What tasks can you realistically get done in the time that you have available?
- Are there any impending deadlines that need to be met and absolutely cannot be moved?
- What can be delegated to someone else (do you really have to do it or could someone at least assist you with it?)
- What can you delay or even cut from the list completely and what impact (if any) would that have?
Once you have a list of the most important tasks that you need to get done over the holidays ensure that you have made yourself a priority and leave some room for the activities that you would like to do.
Running about doing drop offs at various holiday clubs, planning days out, clearing up after the latest arts and craft session, and managing workloads around the kids being at home all day can leave you feeling a bit frazzled! So, have a think about how you can give yourself some extra TLC during this time and draw up a self-care plan:
- What activities energise and uplift you?
- What helps you to relax and recharge?
- When would be your best opportunity to carry out these activities? How will you create the space you need in your day or week for them?
I hope you all have a lovely, fun filled summer holiday with your family and plenty of down-time for you as well! Connect with me over on Instagram or LinkedIn and let me know how your summer is going or any top tips you might have for getting through the next six weeks. I particularly welcome any activity suggestions that will keep my kids well and truly occupied…