So can I pre-empt this by saying I quite enjoy the lack of routine in the school holidays and the not having to get up for school or do all the after school activities sport and running around. I like not having to make lunches or make sure there’s a clean uniform or supervise homework.
But, honestly after about 10 days of holidays I always hit this point where I COMPLETELY FREAK OUT and wonder who EVER was able to WORK and HAVE CHILDREN??? Who are those people? I mean, I know lots of people do it, but I mean those people who don’t freak out because they have all these amazing and/or tedious work things to do and just can not imagine where there will EVER AGAIN be 10 consecutive minutes to focus on them? Or people who can have the ENTIRE school holidays off work (I applaud you) and not feel their brain melting at having to create another fruit plater or fill another drink bottle from the car straight after you’ve left the house (a house that is full of cups and water). I JUST CAN’T DO IT.
And so here I am, that mother who says she can’t wait for school to go back, whilst simultaneously wishing she could go to the beach for hours every morning with no responsibility. Snacks. Fucking snacks. Never leave home without them. Oh sorry, that was my first point.
1. Snacks. Never leave home without them. Ever. Or water. Ever. Car rides to anywhere (even 2 minutes) require a drink. Outings (even 2 minutes after breakfast) require post-breakfast pre-morning tea snacks.
2. Make a plan. Sit down early on and discuss with your children what they would like to do over the holidays. Write lists. Make sure you encourage them to put doing things with other members of their extended family on these lists, plus any other free activity you can think of. They will still really mostly want to do paid activities like go to the public swimming pool even when you have an awesome pool in your backyard. Or going to the movies even though you just extended the wifi to cover the ENTIRE block and they could watch pretty much anything at home. It’s just how it is.
3. Schedule it all in. Have a daily plan of events that everyone is aware of. Make sure you keep it fair and everyone is getting some special time with a special friend or doing one of their requested activities. Try not to scream when after a day of 54 things they want to know at bedtime what the plan is for the next day. Breathe and tell them it’s going to be fun!
4. Find a beautiful person to do much of the daily events calendar with the children on days you are working. She (or he) can also be in charge of the (fucking) snacks! Love this beautiful person for being so helpful!
5. Make a rule that they are NOT ALLOWED to ask if you are finished work if they see you come out of the home office during the day. This is punishable by instant chore assignment (dishes). Admire their cleverness in reframing the question from “Are you finished work Mum?” to “You’re not finished yet Mum are you?” as a way of not getting in trouble.
6. Don’t let them get up in the morning and get on the iPad. It has not worked in…well EVER. It works in the moment, they are quiet and distracted and you can do motivational online webinars all morning long from 6am, but when it’s time for them to get off and socialise like humans they are NOT CAPABLE. And as you walk away from them, leaving them in the care of the afore-mentioned beautiful person you’ll feel guilty. Briefly. About until you get into your big, spacious, clean, kid-free office.
7. Get a big, spacious, clean kid-free office. Separate form the house if this is at all possible. I am getting that my set-up is pretty spoilt, but I think I may have done the hard yards! Pretty sure if you have kids and you’re trying to work from home during the school holidays you too deserve the best room in the house.
8. Don’t bang on about how you are the family’s sole income earner and you work hard and they have a nice house and get to have holidays and stuff. They don’t give a shit. Just say “I miss you when I’m a work too baby”. And when they next ask for the iPad you can tell them you sold it to pay for the avocado they all like to eat so much of!
9. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Some stuff has to get done, and some really doesn’t. Make sure you know what this is, so you’re not actually stressing about stuff that can wait until school is back or they’re in bed or a quiet moment when they are all playing without you. Mostly they play without you, unless you are doing something else and then it becomes really important to play with you. If you are on the phone, they will find you. If you are Skyping someone overseas that you haven’t talked to in ages and they have ALL had a turn, it will still be time for the rabbit to play a game on your ass while you are talking. A talking game between Miss 6 and a rabbit. On your ass. Of course.
10. Take some time off. As much as you can. And then when you go back to work, be focussed and calm about what things are a priority. For me, it’s my one on one clients right now, so if they are all I can fit in the day that’s what I’ll do. If I have time to create a Facebook ad and write an email to my database, I’ll only do that at the times there is not a rabbit on my ass.
11. I don’t even think there were 11 things. It’s just my favourite number right now. REALLY TRULY? Breathe. You’re amazing. However it is going for you is exactly how it’s meant to be. Graciousness comes when you don’t expect it to be anything else other than what it is. Sometimes you just have to laugh, turn off the laptop and go have some fucking snacks with your kids.