School’s out for summer and I’m as excited as my children are, who after a very long and busy half term, finished on Friday. I’ve always been the same, I love having them around and have never ever ever wished the school holidays away. Time passes so quickly and in a blink of an eye they’ll be off to university- something about which I can’t bear to dwell on for too long and it’s my privilege as their mother to have them around. Of course, the lengthy summer break brings with it childcare issues for many families and while my teenagers, (my daughter is 15 and my son is 13), are old enough to come and go as they please, working from home brings its own challenges too, particularly if they want their friends round, something which I have always encouraged and welcomed.
So, how to work from home during the summer holidays with (teenage) children around?
Well, as for anyone who is self-employed and/or working from home, discipline is the key. It’s tempting to stay in bed a little later, especially when the children in question are teenagers and will naturally sleep in later than they do on a school day. There is no sense of urgency unlike a school morning and this, I’ve found, can be contagious! I’m a naturally early riser and capitalise on this by looking at emails first thing and writing a list of that day’s tasks. I do the essential housekeeping such as emptying the dishwasher and putting a load of washing on. I work at the table in the kitchen-dining area and I can’t concentrate unless the kitchen is clean and tidy. At the end of the working day, I put all associated paperwork and paraphernalia away in a cupboard to signify that I have finished for the day and to ensure that it’s safe and doesn’t get lost, damaged, spilled upon etc.
I try to keep up with my gym routine. During term time, I go as soon as the children have left, (they are old enough and live close enough to school to walk themselves), so I start my working day proper post-shower upon my return, feeling both energised and virtuous. Weather permitting, I walk through the park to the gym, so ensuring I get at least some fresh air (something it can be easy to forget about when based at home). I do a shorter workout when the children are at home but it’s important for me to fit some exercise in.
Stopping for lunch is something I must try harder at, day to day. I always eat but don’t always stop working to do so. In the holidays, I set a time for lunch and make sure the children know. It’s a great way to “touch base” with them, to catch up on their morning. I try to eat outside whenever possible because I enjoy it, but it also saves clearing the decks if working from the dining table as mentioned above. I like to know they have eaten properly and it’s part of my job as a mum to ensure this. That being said, if they are out with their friends and want to get a sausage roll and a bottle of Lucozade from Greggs (a culinary favourite of both children and their fellow teens across the nation it seems), I’ll happily give them two or three squid to do so. It is the holidays after all.
I aim to finish work at 5.30pm but if the children are out with friends, I work a little later. Being flexible is key here. But assuming they are home, I tidy my work away and prepare supper for us to eat together. Homework-free evenings means time to catch up on films so we have each written a list of what we’d like to watch. Charity shops are a great source of DVDs and also books of course, and we are going to have at least two movie nights per week.
We’re going on holiday abroad for a week but I’d also like some days out upon our return so I am actively trying to schedule them in. That way, we know to keep those dates free and have even more to look forward to. A mini break to London is top of our list at this time.
Above all though I accept and embrace the fact that my routine will be a little bit different for the duration of the summer holidays. My magazine work and my optometry column are non-negotiable, are deadline driven and pay the mortgage, so they are the priority, but the other branches of my work, namely my blog and its associated social media and Lizzy O, my online jewellery business might have to take a back seat for a short while. Because no mother ever looked back and wished she’d posted more on Instagram.
So to summarise…
-Get up at the same time as you would during term time and do this on each and every working day.
-Write a to-do list.
-Ensure your workspace (especially if it’s in a communal area), is clean and tidy before starting.
-Continue to workout and exercise as normal (in fact continue as normal with any hobbies).
-Take a twenty minute walk.
-Stop for lunch and eat with the children. Or let them eat out in town with their friends.
-Finish work at a set time and tidy everything away.
-Make the most of homework-free evenings. Make a list of DVDs and watch them together. With popcorn.
-Schedule some days off and decide in advance where to go and what to do on those days.
-Set aside a half-day to get new uniform, shoes etc as early as possible in the holidays. Ditto haircuts, dentist appointments and eye-tests.
-Bloggers and small businesses- use apps to schedule social media shares. I’ve recently started using the brilliant IFTTT for several aspects of this and have been using Buffer for Twitter a few months. Both are intuitive and have made a huge difference to me and my time management. (Read this popular post about time management and doing it all while staying sane).
-Above all enjoy. Make the most of every moment with these wonderful young people and embrace the change in routine. Celebrate anything and everything.
So yesterday heralded the start of the summer holiday and the children and I had lunch with my brother and his family. We went to The Woolly Sheep Inn in Skipton and had a walk around the town. I wore my pompom midi dress, one of my favourites from last year and one I teamed with tattoo tights and nude heels in spring in what proved to be a very popular post. Skipton’s cobbles mean that flats are a sensible option, so tan sandals were the order of the day.
I think it’s clear that I love the holidays.
Love Liz x
Cream pompom midi dress, & Other Stories, past season
T-bar heart and freshwater pearl bracelet, £49, Danon at Lizzy O
Leopard print and diamante wrap bracelet, £12.50, Lizzy O
Hummingbird watch, Olivia Burton, past season
Tan leather sandals, Boden, past season
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