As another school holiday period draws to an end, I can’t help but think, “I wanna be the 1950’s cis white male whose entire schedule has been based around the knowledge that he has a full-time SAHM support person for – quite literally – everything else” [lol].
But here we all are > “having it all” > and x6 weeks in to another set of almost-done-and-dusted Australian school holidays, we’ve likely got the eye twitch[es] to prove it.
Just so we can really have a proper larf over the math that never maths for working parents, but to remind you all: there are x3 months of school holidays every year … and x4 weeks of annual leave up each working paren’ts sleeve[s].
For my husband and I, the additional challenge has been based around the fact that we’ve never had grandparents in Melbourne [my in-laws], or even Victoria [my Dad], so dropping the kids at Nan and Pa’s has – quite literally – never been anything more than a pipe dream [lol].
As always, I reach the end of another significant school holiday period having done my best to pull it all off via a mix of strategy, trial and error [many errors actually, ha!]. In this candid blog post, I’ll share my personal experiences — the successes and the pitfalls — of managing professional responsibilities alongside family life during this challenging time.
… did I mention I have x2 Autistic kids who’d have to be dragged into a holiday program kicking and screaming? lol. Yea. There’s also that.
So, what worked?
- Transforming My PA into a nanny/babysitter: I figured this out a long time ago, and I’ll never go back. I channelled my 1940’s cis white male and instead of having the full-time SAHM? I designed my PA’s entire job description around my needs as a modern day female CEO, which include pivoting her role to Nanny’ing support throughout a large chunk of the Australian school holidays. The reason being? That’s actually how I met her, i.e she was our Nanny before she became my PA.
I can’t stress this enough: modern day CEOs don’t need a PA to pour coffee for everyone in a corporate boardroom somewhere … we need PA’s with dual skills that are weighted heavily towards caring for children, and my PA does this throughout the school holiday period [as well as when spontaneous things pop up etc. and my children adore her].
- Working weekends for uninterrupted productivity: to compensate for the distractions of working from home with kids around, I switched to weekend work. These quiet hours allowed me to focus deeply on tasks that required undivided attention. I’m calling it actually, this would have to have been one of my biggest school holiday wins.
- Shared responsibility with my husband: I was raised by a single parent Dad who is one of the biggest feminists I know, so my husband being anything other than an equal to me? … not up for negotiation [lol].
For this reason, we managed these school holidays in partnership with one another … and I wouldn’t [and couldn’t] have it any other way.
What didn’t work?
- Working Late into December: I f*cked up. I worked right until our agency’s closure period [December 22nd], when the reality is: the full mental load of Christmas really does fall on me. My husband is a lot of great things, but he’s a massive Christmas Grinch … so if we want Christmas and joy to live in harmony? It has to be me.
My continuing to work late into December took a toll on my nervous system, trying to balance the sheer flipping madness of anything that happens in the last fortnight of December … and so I’ve learned the importance of wrapping up earlier to manage the mental load of Christmas preparations and to enjoy quality time with family.
I’ll never forget finishing work this year on December 22nd with a 2-day-long eye twitch, lol. #NeverAgain.
- Altering my morning routine: abandoning my usual 5 am start [it’s really good for me, and it works for me], a time when I’m most productive, led to reduced efficiency. The school holidays disrupted my routine, resulting in tiredness and a struggle to maintain my early morning productivity.
- Working from home with kids: the idea of multitasking work and childcare was a misconception. The constant interruptions drastically affected my productivity. Going forward, I plan to work from the office during school holidays for uninterrupted focus. I really do just have one of those brains where every single interruption costs me at least 45 minutes in productivity. And I just get more and more frustrated with each and every interruption. Yunno? lol.
These school holidays have been a learning curve in balancing my dual roles as a CEO and a mother. It’s a continuous process of understanding what works best for my family and me. By sharing these insights, I hope to connect with and inspire other working parents facing similar challenges.
Remember, it’s not just about finding the perfect balance, but about finding what works for you and your family. As we navigate these paths, let’s be open to learning from each experience and adapting as needed.
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