A couple of years ago, we were all asked to work from home. Those of us who had children, were asked to home school them too, how the world changed!!
The kids went back to school eventually, but quite a number of us are still working from home, either all or part of the week, and with the Summer Holidays already well underway, how do we cope with having to entertain the children as well as putting in a days work? Especially if you don’t have copious amounts of annual leave to take.
A good reference point is the team at SYLO, most of us have children of varying ages, some of whom are still at school, so we asked our Team the question:
“We’re thinking about producing learning with tips / a guide on how to manage school holidays when you’re a full-time parent working from home and your kids aren’t old enough to look after themselves yet or they are, but you want to keep them out of trouble.
How do you manage the Summer Holiday as a working parent? Do you have any tips or advice on what you do?”
Here is the blog that resulted!!
Clubs and Groups
There are specific activity clubs such as drama clubs for a week, art or coding clubs, football camps etc. Mostly suitable for primary school age. Gyms sometimes have kids’ clubs (check out David Lloyd Holiday Club). County music services offer music workshops over summer. It’s still not too late to check these out, most have sessions that you can just turn up to!!
Local Theatre groups also have some great summer activities. Thame Youth Theatre run a “Summer Project” where the children attend drama school for a week and on the last afternoon / evening they perform a show. 2022 is Matilda and my two are really looking forward to it. This is great for children of all ages, I have a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old and even last year they managed to put on a performance, with some COVID restrictions in place. They have been going to Summer Project for about 8 years.
Friends and Family
Work with your network of friends and share out looking after the children. You can work out the timetable in the local pub (please drink responsibly) it’s a chance to catch up with your friends whilst the children are catching up with theirs.
You have a couple of your friends’ children for a day, then swap. We have a group of mums that take it in turns to look after each other’s children. Especially if an urgent meeting is arranged. Luckily a couple of the mums work at schools, so they are usually on leave over the summer!!!
Grandparents are also great to help, if they are close by, and if all else fails Xbox or iPads kills a few hours 😬
Like they say, “It takes a village to raise a child” and never has this been more true with most of us moving away from our own childhood towns and villages.
There are some great ideas for holiday clubs, most of them are running again this year, https://www.dayoutwiththekids.co.uk/ is a brilliant website if you are searching for things to do.
You can also speak to your employer about flexible working over the summer, most of them are parents and understand your situation. This may need a little bit of advanced planning though. If you need some advice with how this can be arranged and what the rules are, please email us on email@example.com
One of our previous blogs Top Tips for Managing Stress this Summer offers great advice about coping with stress whilst trying to work, look after the children and arrange a summer holiday.
Whilst COVID is not as prevalent as it was last year, there are still additional stressors that can take all the fun and relaxation out of your summer holiday. This year, the additional possibility that flights might get cancelled at the last minute due to staff shortages or strikes is ramping up that summertime stress. Along with train strikes too, having an effect if you are arranging days out with the kids.
It’s not just about the holidays either, the strikes can affect the working day as well, as we show quite clearly in the following two examples:
- Mike booked a quick business trip to Germany, unfortunately it couldn’t be run over a zoom call, so flights were arranged. He was also undertaking some managerial training on the afternoon he was supposed to fly from the UK, so had arranged an early flight so he could work from the hotel room on his arrival. 12 hours before the flight was due to take off, it was cancelled. Luckily, he picked up the email, as he was in a meeting. He was able to quickly book one of two seats still available on a later flight, but it meant having to rearrange his training until later in the week. He still wasn’t sure if the later flight was going to go ahead as well, or if they were going to cancel his return flight and be stuck in Germany for an extra day or two. Thankfully that didn’t happen, but the knock-on effects of that flight cancellation were:
- the trainer had to rearrange her schedule, to fit in the later session with him
- the rearranged training impacted on other meetings planned for that day
- additional stress during the working day
- unnecessary cost of airport parking, as he didn’t fly until 8 hours later.
- One of our clients had to rearrange a meeting at short notice, he was very apologetic, and when he told us the reason why, it highlighted further costs involved in last minute cancellation of flights, for whatever the reason. His sister had flown to Tenerife for a much needed short break with some friends, everything had been planned for the time she was away, however her return flight was cancelled. Great for her, as she got a couple of extra days in the sun, but arrangements at home needed to be extended:
- extra days off work were needed, she didn’t have leave available, so she took it as unpaid
- she had to arrange additional childcare, more expense, but luckily her brother could step in and collect them, hence the rearranged meeting with our client
- upset for the children, as they were expecting mum home
- additional cost of parking at the airport.
She arrived back safely, and everything settled down, but this was stress added to what was supposed to be a stress free break.
Lots of airlines are planning to strike, as are the train companies. This is a fluid situation, so I’m not going to name them, you will hopefully be given plenty of notice should your trip be disrupted.
Please make sure that your travel insurance covers strike action, a lot of them don’t.
With regards to the workplace what is the cost?
The cost of strikes to employees:
- No pay
- Need to make extra arrangements for childcare if necessary
- Job protection for strike action doesn’t last forever
- If unexpected time off goes against the employee contract it could have repercussions at work
- Employers of striking workers are entitled to reduce the length of service of that employee by the number of days they were on strike
- Potential damage to career advancement
- Wellbeing affected.
The cost of strikes to employers:
- Drawn out negotiations, costing time and money
- Loss of productivity
- Employee wellbeing affected, could impact on their work
- Negative employer – employee relationship
- Loss of revenue
- Money and time have to be spent preplanning customer trips which are cancelled – customers may try claim compensation
- Negative impact on branding – customer frustrations with delays usually effecting wider plans
- If higher trained staff, it’s harder to find replacement staff to fill positions, unlike in less qualified jobs.
Our advice to you, try and be flexible if at all possible if your employees are affected by circumstances out of their control. If you are able, have a contingency plan of employees who
are available at short notice to fill in, or a good relationship with an employment agency, if you can use Temp staff.
If you would like help creating a flexible working policy, or not sure where you stand when it comes to unplanned for situations, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will talk through your issue.
In the meantime, we would like to wish you a relaxing summer holiday, however you choose to spend it.