So the kids are back at school and for the first time ever, when people ask me how my summer was, I can answer with, ‘fantastic!’ even though I was a mum working from home running a business throughout.
If you follow me on social media, you will have seen my posts over the last couple of months, enjoying my time off with my daughters. I had actually been looking forward to the summer this year as well, rather than dreading it as I normally would. I think possibly because our building work finishing and our moving home coincided with the holidays starting!
But it’s been amazing! Stress and arguments have been minimal and fun times, plentiful.
I am not sure what the secret to my success has been this year though! It is something I have pondered this over the course of the summer. I am not sure what has been different this year compared to others, but in the hope that someone else can benefit from it, I will share through this blog what I have been doing.
Finding free/cheap activities
One of the big plusses to come out of the lockdowns was the fact that we had lovely family time together without having to spend a fortune.
Not that we were particularly extravagant before anyway, but the penny really did drop during Covid restrictions. We didn’t have to go out for nice lunches and expensive day trips in order to have an amazing time together as a family.
With the cost-of-living crisis worsening, I was worried about the cost of the holidays. But between a National Trust membership, picnic lunches, museums, beautiful local walks and free activities from sports foundations and local libraries, I have been able to keep costs to a minimum whilst still having a blast!
I also actually think that when activities are free or low cost, the pressure to enjoy them is taken off. When I have paid a fortune to go somewhere in the past, I feel like we ‘should’ be having the best time and if the kids are acting up, or not enjoying it like I thought they would, I am really disappointed and feel like I have wasted money that could have gone on something else.
My personal opinion – screen time is ok!
I know it goes against everything we’ve ever been told as parents ever, and it incites strong feelings but honestly, some carefully monitored screen time is absolutely fine in my opinion.
Whether it be chilling out in front of the TV for a film, or playing games on their tablet or in my eldest’s case, her phone, it keeps them quiet for a while in the holidays so I can get a bit of work done.
This holiday my eldest daughter has been playing games on www.plays.org. The site is free to use, free from ads and nothing has to be downloaded which makes it really easy to use.
Her favourites have been a football one called Toon Cup which she found really challenging but fun! She loved being able to create her own team from cartoon characters and got a real buzz when she was winning!
She also really enjoyed Penguin Café, where she worked as a server in a cafe! She said it was pretty intense but satisfying and it built awareness of what service staff have to actually keep on top of!!
Letting go of the apron strings if they’re old enough!
My eldest daughter started secondary school this week and so over the summer, we have been letting her go out with her friends to build up her independence. As a by-product it has given me some lovely 1:1 time with my youngest.
It’s been really hard to get used to, but with the help of a tracker app and the building of boundaries and trust between us, it’s been fantastic for her (and also gives us a bit of respite from her bickering with her sister!)
Pre-warning clients of holiday situation
I am lucky to have amazing clients. It’s part luck, part deliberately choosing clients who will understand that I need to work flexibly around my family and that I can never be guaranteed to work specific days and times as a mum working from home.
Prior to the school holidays, I will drop a reminder to clients whose work it may affect. It never really does in any big way, but I can rest easy knowing that they are informed and that I have cut myself a bit of slack. It may be that the work I usually get to a client on a Tuesday for a Sunday deadline, may actually get to them on a Thursday. I am still within the deadline, but it is different from their usual service from me as I am predominantly noturnal!
As a side note, I also take pressure off myself. I may target myself in normal circumstances to write a blog a week, but have to accept that this won’t happen during the holidays.
Rid yourself of mum guilt
A good one to end on!
No one said you had to be your offspring’s main source of entertainment for the six-week holiday – we put that pressure on ourselves. We are our own worst enemies sometimes!
If you want to send them to a holiday club so you can work from home, or just have a lie down – do it!
If you want to let them mooch about in their PJs all day whilst you work – do it!
The kids’ downtime from school is also downtime for us, away from the endless taxi-ing to school and after-school clubs. Make sure you spend some time doing what you love in their downtime too!
However you play things, we’re all just over here doing our best and your kids love you for it.