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Managing School Holiday Overwhelm

We just came back from a beautiful camping trip to Merimbula in NSW and now I have to get back into the swing of work, household chores and entertaining my kids during school holidays.

While I am working on establishing my business, working a part-time role in a family services organisation and running a household - I am also a full-time mum. I have to concentrate on my work, navigate difficult conversations and hold space and regulate emotional overwhelm for my clients. When my kids come home from school I have to help them manage to regulate their emotions and with one of them suspected to be on the spectrum this can be quite challenging. So I need to make sure my tank is full and I have a lot of resources available to myself. Right now my children are enjoying their school holidays, whenever they are not bored out of their minds ;) I want to show you how I managed the first overwhelming day back at work because I am hoping this will help you if you are in a similar situation.

Today is my first day back at work and I had to go through a mountain of emails while my 8 year old came in about fifteen times trying to connect and demanding my attention. Needless to say that this was distracting and frustrating and my reaction slowly got less calm each time she popped in. I then decided to switch things up and set up at the local library. I thought if I take the kids there, they will have something new to do and explore while I can work without interruption. No. No this did not work. My 8 year old wanted to sit next to me and read a book she had brought from home. "We can do this at home." I explained to her. "We didn't have to come to the library, so you can sit next to me reading a book you already had." My patience was dwindling and I could feel the pressure of the long to-do list that had piled up during our time away.

I paused and asked myself "How can I regain my centre? What can I do to fill my cup and make sure I get through today and the week ok? What is something that will help?"

I know that I won't be able to come up with a master plan to entertain the kids. After all they have been watching TV in the morning, painted pictures, went to the playground and played with their scooters in the afternoon and now we are in the library and they are still "bored" and keep coming to me. There is a part of me who wishes there was a magic wand that would keep them away from me. I lovingly turned to this part and said "I understand that this is frustrating for you because there is so much that needs to get done. But right now we can only do one thing at a time. School holidays are tricky and we will have to slow down."

What I can do is compassionately accept that this is what happens during school holidays. Our children are finally home with us. Something they would chose to do every day if they would have a say. And then we are disappointing their expectations because we are busy working. We are physically there but not available. This is difficult for children to understand. So they keep trying to connect. They want to hang out with us and play. That's fair!

We both have needs and expectations that don't seem to be compatible.

The kids want to connect/ play and the parents want/ need to work.

This is how I tried to create a little bit of a agreement with my children:

1.) Having a conversation about work and why it is important for Mama and Daddy to

work during school holidays.

2.) Striking a "deal": "How about I play with you one game and then you will play on your

own for a while?"

3.) In addition to this, it was helpful to set a time frame. "I will now work for one

hour and then we can play another game." We set a timer so everyone is accountable.

This helps to set boundaries and overall it helped to create connection. Hopefully this personal story can help you accept that school holidays are challenging and that we will have to adapt our approaches accordingly in order to take care of ourselves and to take care of our kids.

Managing overwhelm during school holidays as a working parent can be challenging, but there are a few things you can do to make it easier:

  • Plan ahead. Take some time before the holidays to sit down and plan out what you and your children are going to do. This will help you to feel more in control and less overwhelmed.

  • Be realistic. Don't try to do too much. It's okay to say no to social engagements and activities if you don't have the time or energy.

  • Delegate. If you have a partner or other family members who can help, delegate tasks to them. This will free up your time so you can focus on the things that are most important.

  • Take breaks. It's important to take breaks throughout the day, even if it's just for a few minutes. Get up and move around, or do something that you enjoy.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you're feeling overwhelmed, don't be afraid to ask for help from your partner, family members, friends, or neighbours.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Create a schedule. This will help you to stay organised and on track. Be sure to include time for work, childcare, activities, and breaks.

  • Be flexible. Things don't always go according to plan, so be prepared to adjust your schedule as needed.

  • Don't be afraid to say no. It's okay to say no to social engagements and activities if you don't have the time or energy.

  • Take care of yourself. It's important to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Make sure to eat healthy, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly.

  • Enjoy the time with your children. The school holidays are a great time to spend time with your children. Make sure to schedule in some fun activities that you can all enjoy together.

It's also important to remember that you're not alone. Many working parents feel overwhelmed during the school holidays. It's okay to ask for help and to take breaks when needed.

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