We're mid-way through the summer school holidays in the UK and if you're a working parent, you might well be starting to feel the guilt pile up. When your social media feeds are full of pictures of happy families having fun - days at the beach, paddling pools at home, holidays abroad, whatever it may be, you could be forgiven for feeling guilty that your kids are in holiday club, so that you can get some work done! We wrote about how to entertain your kids whilst you get work done at home here, but what if you have to be in the office and they can't come with you? Read on for our top tips:
- Don’t be so hard on yourself: You are not superman/woman, you cannot do it all. As soon as you accept that simple fact, you’ll start to feel better. You are providing for your family in the best way you can - don't feel guilty for that. There might be room to find some spare time though. Have a look at your life and see if you can cut yourself some slack, even if just for the holidays, to create extra time to spend with the kids. For example, can you forgo the homecooked meals and rely on ready meals, just for the summer?
- Prioritise your time: This links with the point above. Once you accept you’re not superhuman, write down all the responsibilities in your life and prioritise to try and make time for the things that are most important. Set realistic targets for yourself, not impossible ones. For example, if it is important to you to maintain a certain level of exercise a week, can you involve the children? Bike rides, a game of rounders, swimming at the local pool, will all be fun holiday activities for them, whilst getting the excercise in for you!
- Use your time effectively: If the time spend with your kids during the holidays is limited by your working hours, make sure you make the most of the time you do spend with them. Forget about chores for a while - you can catch up on those in September. Make all spare time count during the holidays - it's only 6 weeks!
- Choose quality over quantity: When you do have time with your children, try and engage with them as much as possible and really listen to them. Put your mobile phone down and make sure your time is quality time. It’s not always about the amount of time you have but about making every second count.
- Share responsibilities: If you are in a relationship where you and your partner are both working through the summer, make sure you are both sharing the opportunity for time with the kids. Can you take a few days off seperately, so the kids have days with each of you seperately? Make sure you spend plenty of time as a whole family though, if you can. If you are a single parent, don’t be afraid to accept extra help from friends or relatives if they offer. Your kids will love the opportunity to spend time with aunts, uncles and grandparents!
Guilt aside, don't forget that being a working parent, especially one that runs his/her own business, sets a positive example to children and hopefully will inspire them to choose and follow their own career path in life. Striking that perfect balance is never going to be easy and what works for one family won’t necessarily be right for another. However, by organising and planning your time in your work and personal life and accepting your situation, the guilt will start to ease and you can concentrate on enjoying your life at home and at work.
Have a happy, guilt-free summer!