No sooner have the kids gone back after the summer then we seem to be at half term! This is the first time we’ve really been governed by school holidays, and I have to say it has come as something of a shock. A whole week of solid children-time, and with no family nearby the disappearance of the small amount of childcare I have means being creative with the work I can get done – sound familiar?
Talking to other parents in the playground and park in the run up to this week, this seems to be a theme. Even if you are a SAHM / SAHD, the thought of having constant little (or not so little) shadows for a week (or 2 in some cases) has been greeted with a degree of trepidation.
How to fill all that time, without breaking the bank, or losing your sanity?
Well, I may not be able to help on the practical parenting side of things, but as a coach however, I can give you some tips on keeping a positive mindset through this week, and hopefully thriving instead of just surviving!
1. Re-examine your expectations
Many of us are guilty of following people on social media that don’t make us feel good, and around school holidays it can get even worse. Insta-worthy photos of perfect families, expensive activities or holidays can make us feel like we are not doing a good job. But what good is that doing? None. Look at what you are expecting from half term – there are going to be good bits and bad bits, fun bits and not so fun bits, exciting bits and normal life bits. Look at your expectations and think – ‘is this reasonable?’. For example, if you have young children, expecting a week without a tantrum or 2 is not probably not realistic. Setting realistic expectations around the holiday will help not only take some of the pressure off, but also reduce any thoughts of failure when things don’t go to plan
2. Let go of guilt
So you have to work? Kids are in holiday club all week? So what. Let go of the guilt – it is not serving you or your kids. It is a fact of life that sometimes work can’t stop for half term. But the good news is the kids will spend the time getting new experiences, playing with their friends.
Kids at home with you all week. Limited budget for activities? So what. Let go of the guilt– it is not serving you or your kids. It is a fact of life that sometimes finances are tight and we can’t spend what we’d like. But the good news is that you will get to spend some time with your kids, and explore what you can do locally, and make your own fun.
My point is what ever you are doing, whatever your circumstances, the parenting guilt will strike. However, it has no purpose other than to make you feel bad, so try to let go. Think of all the positives of what you are doing and then get on with it.
3. Focus, and then relax
Focusing on the kids all day can be tough, and tempers can get frayed when the 100th request for a snack comes in before 10am. So if you trying to entertain kids for an extended time, try a time management technique called the Pomodoro technique (yes, that is Italian for tomato, it's named after the tomato shaped timer the creator used) – this is where you focus for a defined period of time, traditionally 25 minutes, and then take a break. So, focus on playing with the kids for 25 minutes, then leave them to carry on playing while you take a break, grab a cup of tea and do whatever you need to do.
4. Ask for help and do what you need to do
As always, if you find yourself struggling to juggle work, family and life, ask for help. Ask family to have the kids for an afternoon (or sit in your house with them), ask friends to do a childcare swap for a couple of hours, call on an emergency childcare service. And if you find yourself utilising the electronic babysitter more than you would like, then so be it. Do what you need to do to get through the week in one piece! So long as you and the kids are happy, nothing else really matters.
So there you have it, my mindset tips for getting through half term. I hope these are helpful for you – I’d love to hear how you get on. From next week, we’ll be back talking about careers but as parents, sometimes, it’s the kids and everything that comes with them that takes centre stage. If you'd like to get more support with being a working parent, and building the career you want, please head over to my free Facebook group, The Returnity Lounge.