By Moira Dunne
The days are getting longer, and the schools will soon be closing for the summer holidays. Your kids are getting excited about the long, lazy days ahead. But you find yourself getting increasingly anxious. How will you keep your kids busy? How will you balance work and parenting this summer? Where will you find extra childcare?
School holidays can present business owners with a headache. But with a little planning and focus, you can balance work and parenting in summer and stay productive. With some creativity, you can find solutions to fit your schedule and your budget. Here are some tips on how to do it:
Plan Your Child Care
Probably your biggest challenge is finding a minder who is available during the regular school hours. Maybe your existing minder can increase their hours, or a family member can step in. But if not you will need a new solution.
Start by talking to other working parents. What arrangements have they made? What child-minding solutions are available locally that you may not be aware of?
Think creatively about other options. Do you know any teenagers who would do a few hours a day ? Do you have a niece or nephew abroad who could visit and look after their cousins? Is there a local language school? Can you host students in exchange for some babysitting? Or maybe a short-term au pair would solve the problem.
Start booking camps and other activities early to avail of discounts. To find options to suit your kids’ ages, ask parents with children a year or two older than yours.
Check subsidised options like Cul Camps or Parks Tennis. Does your local sports club offer free or discounted camps? Always check for a sibling discount too. Check local sports centres for longer camps and good value too. Also these camps often cater for a range of ages.
Check your local library. Some host book clubs and reading sessions for children and teenagers. Although these sessions can be quite short, they could still provide a valuable hour or two to process some emails. Dun Laoghaire Rathdown libraries produce a three month ‘What’s on guide’ for the summer months that’s worth checking.
Use Online Resources
There are lots of excellent websites and Facebook pages to help you do your research. Here is a list of links to other local and national websites. Check for similar ones relevant to your area:
Collaborate With Others
Remember you are not the only one juggling work and entertainment during the summer months. So work with other parents to work out a rota for camp drop-offs and pick-ups. You may find other parents who would like to take extra kids for a few hours after camp each day.
Organise Your Work Days
You have to be creative about when, where and how you work. There are lots of different ways to plan your working hours around your summer schedule:
- Instead of a typical business day, try working for three hours in the morning and three hours later in the evening
- You could work longer days when you have childcare support and then take the other two days off
- If you are working at home, work early if your kids sleep late or work late if your children go to bed early
Prioritise Your Work
It is important to be very clear about your priorities so that you can be productive when you get time to work. Be realistic about what you can achieve during the summer months. De-prioritise any job that is not essential. Categorise your work to identify:
- Important tasks that require a high level of concentration
- Less important tasks you can do when your energy and focus is low
Schedule the high focus work for a day that you can work free of interruptions. Fit in lower energy tasks into short blocks of time or when you may be surrounded by noise and distraction.
Working productively at home requires discipline. Avoid getting caught up in domestic activities that may sometimes be more appealing than your work. If possible set up a dedicated space where you can go to get into a “work mode”.
If your kids are at home with a minder while you are working, they may seek your attention. Explain that you need uninterrupted time to work. But balance this by being totally “present” when you are taking care of them.
Manage the expectations of clients too. Can you negotiate longer timelines for projects? Continually evaluate if a less essential piece of work can be postponed until the summer is over.
Sometimes it’s easier to be more disciplined when you have less time available. Who knows, the summer challenge may help you develop productive habits that you can retain for the rest of the year?
And finally, remember that flexibility is probably one of the reasons you work for yourself. So try to enjoy the extra time with your children. With a bit of planning and help from others you can balance work and parenting this summer.
Be Productive and Manage Your Time
If you would like more information on how to stay focused, be productive and get more done, contact beproductive.ie for information on Productivity and Time Management Seminars, Training or Coaching.