As a working parent school holidays fill me with anxiety. And its not just when the holidays arrive, it’s the planning for them the months before. These Easter holidays were no different. This post is going to be a bit different from my others. It’s not about organising, and it’s not going to be all that positive. But it is about real life and the struggles that come with that.
I’ll start by giving you a bit of background around our current work situation. I work Monday to Thursday, normally 9.30 am to 5.30 pm. This lets me do the school run as the husband has usually left for work early. Talking of hubby, he works a four week shift rota. This is great during term times as he is free to do the school pick up, but he also works two weekends out of four.
When it comes to holidays, because we know his shifts in advance we can see when we need to take time off. We are lucky as both our parents live locally, and if hubby is working between them they pick the girls up from school. Because they help us during the term time we like to give them a break during the school holidays and try to cover these ourselves.
These holidays though we couldn’t really take a lot of leave. This was for a number of reasons – need to keep some leave for other school holidays, people in our teams/departments were already off and our offices needed covering. This meant we were going to pull off the juggle of all juggles with childcare.
In fact the first week was OK. Hubby was off for a couple of days and I had one day booked off. There was one day we couldn’t cover but the grandparents took the girls off to have a fun day out with their cousins.
The second week though was rather full on. Hubby was down to work four late shifts and I still needed to be in the office as no one else was in. So I worked 8 am to 3 pm, then got home as quickly as I could so hubby could leave at 3.30 pm to start his shift at 4 pm. He then worked through to midnight. We were passing ships in the night and communicated by text message.
My working mum guilt was working overtime that week. I was feeling the girls were getting a really rough deal. They weren’t getting the fun days out that I was seeing our friends were posting all over social media. The house was a tip because they were spending a lot of time at home. And I felt like I didn’t stop from my alarm going off at 6.30 am to when I finally made it to bed about 11 pm. I was one tired cranky mama that unfortunately lost her cool more than once!
So what have these holidays taught me? Something had to give, and during these holidays it was the house. Minimal cleaing and tidying up were done and the house wasn’t put back together properly for two weeks. I did then spend Easter Sunday decluttering the girls rooms because I couldn’t deal with not seeing clean clutter free surfaces any longer.
I also noticed that when we would all be off we made sure that day was a great family day. We went on bike rides, where for the first time we all rode our bikes at the small time. We visited Coleton Fishacre, a local National Trust property just around the corner from us. It was a lovely day out and we were blown away by the beauty on our doorstep.
We also had walks on the edge of the moors.
My eldest also took part in an all day baking workshop (early birthday present) which meant my youngest had some daddy daughter time visiting the penguins at Living Coasts. I also took them to the cinema one evening to finallly see Beauty and the Beast. Not sure who enjoyed that more, me or them. They also went swimming at the local holiday park a couple of times.
Looking back, actually the girls did alright. It was the hubby and I that were putting the pressure on ourselves. Yes we let social media get the better of us, but all we saw on there were other people’s happy family times. What we didn’t see was the juggle they were probably also having to do. In fact, I don’t think the girls even asked once why we needed to go to work. They just asked who was looking after them, and after they heard they responded ‘OK mummy, see you later.’
My mind has already started to think about the long summer holidays and how we are going to juggle that. But this year I am going to remind myself of a couple of things. For a few weeks the house is going to be a mess and the ironing pile will grow but something more important will be happening. We will be out and about creating our long lasting family memories, hopefully st the beach!
Do you have a school holiday juggle to work out too? I would love to hear about it and how you manage.