School holidays again, what feelings does that conjure up for you?
Do you get a feeling of elation?
Spending time at home with the children.
Or is there a feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach?
Two whole weeks of fighting, whining and well, fighting. Are the holidays a time of stress? Or a time of joy?
Do you find it difficult to keep working when the kids are off school?
For me, and for many others who are self-employed or work from home. School holidays are a time of stress, working around the children’s schedules, trying to work without feeling guilty and trying to remain calm when the little darlings start to get on each others nerves. Ah Happy Holidays…
Although I still feel all of these emotions at time to time over the past few years I have learnt a few tricks that make the holidays more peaceful and stress free for all of us.
Now don’t panic. schedules and routines are good, I promise you. Routines are actually very good to implement when you have children. For years I fought against the rigidity of routines. I thought only old boring people stuck to routines. I was too young, too funky, too cool but actually also too stressed as I wasn’t using them. Children love routine, they thrive on it. They love the security of knowing what is coming next. That’s why a lot of kids spend their day asking; Where are we going now? What are we doing today? They like to have their day mapped out for them.
So plan out your week. Let the kids know what times you are working and what times you are available for them. Plan the day trips and treats in advance so they can look forward to the good days. This will avoid the constant questions and it will help you to focus more when you have your available work time.
When you are with them commit to being with them. Switch off your phone, no checking emails, show them they are more important than your work. Think of it this way; If you were in a meeting with an important client, you would never dream of answering a call in the middle of it. So give your children the same respect. If you respect their time with you, they are more likely to respect your time at work. Give them your full attention and be where you are. Don’t spend the time thinking about work.
Keep your Promises
Just as important for children as being present is the old “Keep your Promises”. I’m sure you have at least one memory from childhood when your mother or father didn’t keep their promise. The reason why we still have these memories is that a broken promise hurts. Keeping a promise means the child can trust you and if you don’t keep your promises this trust will slowly erode. And as all adults know, trust is an emotion that is very hard to re-establish once it has been broken.
Just like a new puppy, if you keep a child fed, watered, entertained and exercised they are much more likely to behave. And just like you and I need exercise to stay calm, focused and happy, children do too. Make sure you get them out early enough as pent up energy can explode around midday leaving you exhausted, frustrated and without energy to calm things down. Book them into sports camps if possible, these are fantastic as they come home exhausted and may actually sit and read or watch TV for a whole hour! If camps are not an option. Get out of the house early and go for a walk or a cycle. Or get the children to play outside if you have a safe and secure garden area.
Be a realist
When the kids are at home you will never achieve the same workload as you usually do. Don’t kid yourself it will only make for a miserable household and a stressed parent. Try and reduce your workload if possible. Make sure there is time in each day for achievement and enjoyment.
Remember what is important in life, will you regret having not worked enough or not having spent enough time with your growing children. For most I think you will relate to the latter so down tools and go give them a hug and then throw them out the back garden, but this time maybe you will go with them.
Do you have any tips for keep the Harmony at home during the holiday? Please share your ideas below
Ciara Conlon is a Leadership and Productivity Coach, Motivational Speaker and author of Productivity for Dummies and Chaos to Control. Sign up here for a free Goal Setting Masterclass or join her on her Facebook Group LifeDesigners