Juggling your work with the school holidays? Three ways to ease the pressure

‘I sound like a really nice person’ Jane said to me with genuine surprise following a coaching exercise to explore her values. She had been feeling lost in the pressures of juggling motherhood with working as a freelancer in her business; and trying to do justice to both during the long school holidays.

As a result she had found herself frequently snapping at her husband and children and had begun questioning how ‘nice’ a person she actually was; she also felt guilty at her actions and was judging herself negatively. So it was light relief for Jane to see herself reflected in such a positive light.

Jane is far from alone in reacting this way, especially when trying to manage the balance between personal and professional demands; a balance which can be precarious at the best of times but gets put under considerable extra strain during the holidays.

So when the heat is on, how can we be kind to ourselves and relieve some of the pressure we feel to be ‘all things to all people’ at this time of year?

Manage your expectations

Whilst it can be lovely to relax for a while from the rigid school routine, whether we are employed or self employed, we need to recognise that this brings with it a real shift in our own routine that is likely to test our multi-tasking and organisational skills.

We need to beware that we don’t add to this by loading ourselves with the double whammy expectation that we ‘should’ be creating quality family time and at the same time ‘should’ be able to manage our workload and be as productive as before.

The reality is that neither is achievable during the holidays without outside help, so we need to keep a sense of perspective and accept that for this short while things will be different.

Set boundaries and focus on short bursts of quality time

It can help to set clear times aside in your diary or on your family planner so everyone can see the times you will be working and the times you will be spending together as a family. And then the trick is that whatever you are focusing on in the moment you give it the quality attention it deserves.

So when you are with your children give them your FULL attention and enjoy being in the moment with them. By giving them the quality attention they deserve this relieves the fear that you are neglecting their needs; then when it comes to spending time working you will feel more able to give that your full attention as well.

Give yourself a break

Inevitably, despite your best intentions to enjoy the moment and be fully present with your children, there will be times when tensions mount and relationships clash as you juggle the conflicting demands on your time.

If you find yourself snapping and getting irritable know that this is understandable behaviour given the additional stressors you are juggling and doesn’t make you a bad person. At these times be compassionate with yourself, give yourself a metaphorical break and take a few deep breaths before returning to the fray.

Remember that your needs are equally important; it can be all too easy to lose sight of yourself meeting everyone else’s demands at this time of year, so allow yourself some down time too and give yourself a physical break to replenish your energies.

How about you?

How are you managing the work / family balance during the school holidays? What tips do you have to relieve the pressure at this time of year? I’d love to hear from you.

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