We are in week two of school holidays in Victoria. I love working from home and I love school holidays, however loving the two at the same time does require some planning and strategic management.
As I work for myself at home in a part time capacity, I have much greater flexibility than most. Where possible, I will reduce my workload during the school holidays – not accept meetings or offsite consultations during this time for example. But with that said, I still have external deadlines and commitments that I must meet. This is how I try to best manage working with the kids home during school holidays:
Have a plan
I have written a post on how I prepare for school holidays, with an activity plan for each of the days being an integral part of it. You can read more about that here.
With the exception of days where we have pre-purchased tickets to events, the plan is flexible if other activities or work commitments arise and we can adapt to do what suits us best. But I find there is generally only minor changes to what we do or it might mean I have one less or one more child as play dates occur.
Having the plan works well for both me and the kids. On days where we are at home, I can take the opportunity when they are happily occupied to do some work during the day. It works well for the kids because they have had input into the plan and know that activities they wanted to do will happen over the holiday period. With the plan printed out and hung on the fridge, this prevents a lot of questions and badgering too!
Create and stick to boundaries
Once I have our plan for the school holidays, I work out where my work hours will fit in across the week. Each day will be different depending on what we are doing, but by planning out where to fit the work in advance it means that it doesn’t get to 9pm at night and I realise I have yet to start work on a commissioned article due the next day.
Sticking to the plan means I need to work it both ways too. If I am with the kids I need to make sure that I don’t just jump online for a quick minute to check something (it is always many more minutes that I think!). I make sure both family time and work time have their boundaries and everyone in the family is aware of them.
Work in with another family
This school holidays it is my sister’s family that I am working in with. They have their own business and this is the busiest time of the year for them.
I happily look after my niece and nephew with my brood while she works and then she will look after my kids with hers at other times, so I can work. We then have time when we are all together as well. It works brilliantly for us.
When in Melbourne I have worked with other families in a similar fashion. I will organise with another mum who works or needs a day without the kids and have them over for a play from about 10am – 5pm. My friend will then do the same another day in the following week. This involves only taking the younger 2 -3 kids as the older kids can happily occupy themselves and I can work some solid blocks of time without guilt.
Use technology wisely
During the school term the primary school kids do not have any technology or TV (except for what they need to complete their homework) from Monday to Thursday. You can read more about how we manage technology in our house in this post – Managing technology with kids.
During the school holidays this changes and they can have 1.5 hours a day. When they have the time will depend on what we do for the day and what my work commitments are. While they are watching TV, playing on the computers or iPads, I will work for the 1.5 hours. It is amazing how much you can get done when you have limited uninterrupted time!
Give the kids independence and responsibility
- still contribute with their usual jobs to keeping the house tidy and clean (you can see what they do in our family contribution schedule here)
- tidy up any mess they make (you can read more how I work this in this post School Holiday Tips – Keeping The House Tidy)
- take turns in making morning and afternoon tea
- for the older kids, walk to the bakery/shops to get ingredients for lunch
- take the dog for walks (no school walks, so need to build in walking time for her)
But during school holidays they also can:
- have access to more technology / TV time as discussed above
- sleep on the floor, in different rooms or in cubby houses they make in their rooms
- have access to art and craft and other activities that we don’t use very often
- make requests for fun lunches and have lunch indoors/outdoors in different locations
- select school holiday activities to do
- have pyjama days
- for the older kids, meet up with friends and I assist with transporting them where required
The combination of the kids helping keep things organised around the house and making the usual daily activities a little different builds up a greater sense of fun and harmony across the week. When I then explain to them that I need they to give me 30 minutes so I can take a work call, it usually works!
The reality of school holidays means that even with all of the above, I do have to work more at night when all the kids are in bed, so I can keep on top of my workload. But I am happy with that, as it enables me to spend more of my time during the day enjoying the company of my kids.
Are you working or studying from home? How do you manage school holidays?