Surviving the summer holidays as a work-from-home parent
Many parents will be working from home this summer - and while it's great to be able to spend extra time with your kids during the school holidays, you also need to actually get your work done! That balance can sometimes be a little tricky, and even quite overwhelming, bearing in mind you have six weeks to take into account.
With this in mind, you ideally need activities for your sprogs that are not too long (you can always spread a few throughout the day, achieving what you need to work-wise in between) or activities that are easy to pick up where you left off from, as you flip back and forth.
One suggestion is to organise some crafty activities for the kids. It could be drawing, it could be painting or something else that helps exercise the imagination and feed their creative side. You can work out what they want to make, set them up with what they need, and take part when you are able to join in. But you'll likely also find them to be absorbed in their project whilst you work on your own tasks. Once they start making something, you'll probably find they want to see it through to completion.
Another great option is to play a few computer games as a family. Sure, you don't want your kids to be spending the whole of their summer on them, especially with the current glorious weather (although when it gets too hot outside, this could actually cool them down, complemented by a nice ice cold drink for everyone). Playing for a short amount of time, with boundaries set by you, can even have some benefits for your little growers too. As well as being fun, kids can enhance some key skills, such as hand and eye co-ordination, and teamwork. When you're playing along with them, it can be a positive way to bond and have a laugh. If you are playing on a phone, tablet or console, you can usually filter through only kid-friendly games (and disable the in-game pay options) particularly if you need to leave them to get on with it on their own for a bit.
There's also no harm in allowing the children to spend a little time watching TV/Netflix/Youtube etc. There are plenty of quality, family-friendly shows on offer. We know you probably don't want them glued to the screen all day, so make TV time worthwhile. Pick a film you can all watch together. That way you both get to enjoy it, and perhaps they will end up a bit more satisfied at the film's end. If you're lucky, they might even take a short nap while you get back to work...well it's not quite impossible!
Books are another really solid idea, too. Here you can get the best of both worlds, spend some time reading a couple of chapters of one of their favourites with them, then leave them to read a few more when it's time to tackle that workload again.
Now, how about taking advantage of the fabulous British weather we're enjoying at the moment? It'll give them and you a chance to unwind and get some fresh air.
What about some outdoor games? Why not plan the ultimate cool-down game? A balloon fight! If you have enough little ones to create two teams (they can always invite a few friends over), the game is simple; each team lobs their water balloons at the other team, and whichever team is the driest when the balloons are all used up wins. It'll give all of you some good fun, and a good laugh, plus a way to cool off. Another good choice for garden play is outdoor Twister. You know how to play the inside version right? This one is played in exactly the same way; just spray paint the coloured circles of the regular mat onto an area of grass suitable for play (when the lawn is mowed it'll soon come off!) Another option is if you have some chalk that will work on garden paving (it'll easily wash off on normal concrete) you can play noughts and crosses - just draw a grid and take turns, just like the regular game.
Another great, and worthwhile, activity worth exploring in the holidays is encouraging the kids to practice something they'd like to get better at. Perhaps they have a hobby they would like to invest more time in, e.g. they may want to improve their swimming or cycling skills. Whatever their skill, hobby or talent, getting them to work at it and get better, will be rewarding for for all of you.
There will be times when you may not be able to look after your kids and will need to arrange some childcare. It could be the perfect opportunity for the grandparents to have a day out with the kids, or to spend some quality time playing some indoor activities. If a friend or sibling also has children of their own, perhaps you could ask them to have your children for a day, and agree to return the favour. If your kids are old enough, you consider Summer camps as an option. These days, there are so many to choose from, and whilst offering all sorts of events and training opportunities, it gives them a change of scenery from their usual routine, and the chance to make new friends.
With a little planning, you can balance the holidays to create a solid work/kids-time balance that keeps everyone happy, and means you don't end up drowning in a backlog of work. Result!
For more great ideas, tips, tricks and other handy articles on a wealth of subjects, why not explore the rest of the fivesquid blog.