The One Thing You Need to Know to Survive the School Holidays


The One Thing You Need to Know to Survive the School Holidays

You’d think I’d be used to this by now.

For the last few years, every ten weeks or so, my life has been turned upside down. Daytime meetings are swapped for dates with my kids. Night-time, chill-time becomes the start of my new work day. And I spend the majority of my time nowhere near my desk.

School holidays are upon us once again. I always plan, to plan for it; usually in the first week back at school as I’m recovering from the previous holidays. But the reality of our businesses and our life makes planning our day to day lives in advance, virtually impossible.

Adding to my chaos, with only a weeks’ notice, I waved my husband/business partner off this morning as he boarded a plane to the US. Remember how I said planning ahead was virtually impossible? Well, we’d normally handle school holidays in 50/50 shifts, so now I’m staring down the barrel of at least the first week, completely solo as a co-business owner and a mum.

Panic stations?

Once upon a time, it would have been panic stations for me. I would have been a stressed out angry mess running around like crazy but still not achieving anything I set out to do. I would have written up huge ‘to-do’ lists, serving nothing except to hang over my head and make me feel like a failure for not completing them.

Then, over the Christmas break last year, something clicked. One of the reasons I work for myself is that I want to be able to blend raising my family, with building my career.And I didn’t want school holidays to be this stressful, or this hard.

I wanted to enjoy that small amount of time I had with my kids. And if that was going to happen, I needed to make some pretty big changes to the way I approached doing business during these periods.

Get real.

So, this is what changed … I got real. I made peace with the fact that for around twelve weeks per year my productivity would at least, halve. Instead of making list after list of impossible to complete tasks, I sat down at my desk and wrote three rules:

  • Get real about your priorities.
  • Get real about how much time you have.
  • Get real about what you can achieve during that time.

I put an end to those ‘pie in the sky’ to-do lists and setting incredibly large goals for the holidays. I looked at the time I had. How much of that I wanted to be a mum. And what I could realistically achieve in the time left over, then I set about planning my week around that.

Granted, it isn’t totally smooth sailing. At times the stress and feelings of guilt creep back in, and I have to go back and re-read the rules I wrote. But by and large, getting real has made me a better mum and more productive than I’ve ever been, not only during holiday-time but in my work/life in general.

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  • Renee Hasseldine

    We’ve just finished our school holidays here in Victoria. I agree with you about getting real. I just assume I’m not going to be working during that time and prep my team for that. Anything I do squeeze in is a nice bonus. But, our kids are only kids for a short time, so I’m better off focusing on them rather than being stressed and not fully present.

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