My Family Care asks Anneli: The Holidays take an extra toll on our time and energy as we have more visitors, the kids are off school, less people are in the office... But life still goes on. What added pressures are there around the holiday season and how do you manage your work life balance during this period? What suggestions would you give to other working parents?
Holiday are always stressful
As a mum with two children aged 6.5 years and 5 years old, I run three businesses and employ 3 members of staff. Holidays are always stressful as one member of staff works part time during the holidays and it is only recently that I have organised my own childcare 4 days per week.
An extra pair of hands
Whilst I had a full time nanny all school holidays were catered for. When my nanny had holiday my husband and I would take time off and have our holiday if convenient at the same time, if she took holiday during term time I would generally do school drop off and pick up - leaving work early most days.
When I had no childcare in place, school holidays were very different. The first holiday was chaotic, and ended up with me organising a temp nanny to help out. Being my own boss I could dip in and out of the office when I needed. Previously I had done this, but my work suffered. Having no childcare increased the pressure on me and meant that I no longer had a work life balance as every evening I was catching up on things from the day. It was at this point that I realised school holidays needed to be carefully organised and planned.
Schedule in advance
I now have a nanny who works 4 full days during the school holidays. At the beginning of the holidays I generally print off a large diary and write down a schedule for each day so we know who's looking after the children what days and any activities they may have. I have learned the hard way that I need to discuss the holidays with my nanny and not just assume that she can do extra days for me. My husband has a large extended family, so once I know where the shortages are in childcare I then generally approach family. Luckily, some of their cousins are in their 20's and old enough and responsible enough to look after my children. It is nice for the older cousins, as they can get to know their younger cousins and earn some money during the holidays to pay off the student debt.
If all else fails then I call in favours from friends and organise play dates for the children, obviously at someone else's home! The children have fun and I can get some work done!
Have a backup plan
As it is a membership service, once I had signed up they kept my children's details on file, and booking was a piece of cake! I also felt safe leaving my children with the nannies and childminders as I knew they were fully vetted.
Work life balance is a work in progress for me, I have learned the hard way that being organised is key. Things always come up that mean on some days the planning fails but as long as most of the holidays are covered, then I am happy.
Anneli, Business Owner and Mother of Two