Julie Tucker
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Working during school holidays: How to cope

Putting extra pressure on parents and caregivers; school holidays can change your normal working routine but figuring out how to cope during school breaks is crucial for both your family life and career.

The importance of work/life balance should never be underestimated, as getting it wrong can negatively impact your career progress, as well as your emotional wellbeing.

A traditional 9-5 schedule probably isn’t going to be ideal when the kids are at home – if you’re working from home full-time, the disruption is bound to impact your productivity.

Coping with school holidays

The typical issues a mum might face once the school holidays begin revolve around how to keep your clients and your children happy; working parents and childcare needs are often a hot topic for discussion on social media, as it can be a stressful experience trying to juggle a job with caring for the family.

The school holidays can be a challenging period, with 74% of UK parents saying they struggle to meet the high childcare costs. Almost one-third of parents say that during the long summer holiday, the expense of their childcare is the same as what they earn, or even more in some cases.

Research reveals the cost of one month’s full-time holiday childcare for two children can swallow up more than 58% of one parent’s full-time salary, according to data from Spare My Time, making it all the more important to work out a cost-effective and workable plan ahead.

Getting the balance right

One factor that can make or break the school holidays is flexibility. Where possible, consider adjusting your work hours to accommodate family needs.

No-one can afford to spend the earth on childcare, so you need to come up with a Plan B that won’t let either your job or your children suffer.

First, prioritise tasks and set realistic goals – identify essential tasks as this can help make managing your days easier and maintain a sense of accomplishment.

A flexible working arrangement gives you more choice on how to complete your workload: it can be tough starting work at 9am when you have to sort out the children, so working from say 10am until 6pm gives you extra time in the morning to deal with the extra tasks.

Create a dedicated workplace where you know you can get things done without interruption. This could be a room at home for now, but have you ever considered a coworking space to combine flexibility with professionalism?

Working from home is always an option, but during the school holidays, it can become less attractive. Coworking is a viable solution to a lot of homeworking challenges.

Good communication

To minimise the impact on clients or colleagues, it’s important to have some routine, such as meeting times and core hours, for example. However, being able to choose your start and finish times can make life less stressful if you’re a parent or carer.

Always keep lines of communication open if you have other team members. Keep them updated about your schedule and let them know when you’re available.

Don’t gloss over any potential challenges ahead. Be transparent so everyone knows exactly what’s happening, as this will avoid problems further down the line.

Childcare support

Take advantage of childcare support by not only using local professional services, but also by asking family and friends for help. This could enable you to commit to working hours and allow your children to engage in enjoyable activities safely with others.

If you have parents, siblings or good friends who may enjoy spending time entertaining the kids, there’s no shame in admitting you need their help. A collapse in childcare arrangements is one of the most common causes of absences from work for parents. Almost twice as many working mothers in the UK have had to disrupt their schedule compared with fathers due to the children’s caregiver having fallen through.

Work/life balance

Practice self-care and don’t end up feeling frazzled during the school holidays. The balancing of work and family can be emotionally and physically challenging.

If you’re feeling under pressure, take breaks, get enough sleep and engage in activities you enjoy. The worst thing you can do is struggle on and say nothing, as this only leads to burnout.

A healthy work/life balance is considered a key factor in terms of employee success. A huge body of research suggests an inability to balance family and work leads to a poor performance, anxiety and stress over time.

An organisation can’t work to its full potential unless the workers feel complete engagement and dedication. Studies have shown companies with a high level of employee engagement improve their operating income on average by 19%, so it’s beneficial to the individual and the organisation as a whole.

If you’re planning ahead for the school holidays and considering coworking space, London has some of the best flexible workspaces in the UK.


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