Ahhh… School holidays. The 12 wondrous weeks each year when the kids get to relax, refresh and request snacks every 15 seconds. And working parents get to figure out a way to keep the kids fed and entertained without losing our minds. Or our jobs.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have a major love/hate relationship with school holidays. I really do love having my kids home. Honestly, there’s nothing better. I absolutely adore spending time with them. Especially now that they don’t need to be convinced to take a nap every afternoon. I love our relaxed mornings, our late movie nights, the lack of school lunches and drop-offs.
I love that the kids get a break from the school routine, which, by the end of each term, is clearly dragging them down.
But, what I find a bit tricky, is finding a way to be a good mum AND a good employee at the same time. Juggling work and family really is the pits.
Sorry, I Can’t Come in Today. I’m Sick… During School Holidays… Again
Because, the thing is, even though the school drop-offs stop for six to eight weeks (yay!), work doesn’t. Not unless I’m super organised and managed to book annual leave. Which I’m not. And I didn’t.
So, when school holidays are once again upon us, I do what all working mums do. I call in help. Beg my in-laws. Book the kids into vacation care. Pay babysitters. Make playdates. All the while I watch my bank account plummet and feel that stupid mum guilt about having to pawn my kiddies off. Again.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. I also love the idea of chilling with my kids for 12 weeks a year (preferably on the beach with a cocktail). Which simply cannot be done in today’s society where more than TWO-THIRDS of mums work.
School holidays in the 21st century. No harvesting involved
Truth be told, the modern-day schooling system isn’t designed for today’s working households. Especially not the school holidays. That’s when juggling work and family really gets hard.
It’s an archaic system based on life in the 19th century when kids needed to leave school at 3pm to get home in time to help their parents toil the fields before dark. School holidays revolved around the harvest of the fruit, or wheat, or potatoes, or whatever-the-f-they-were-toiling-in-the-first-place.
Well, society. Today’s kids don’t toil. They want to go bowling. Or to laser tag.
Or, they stay home and request snacks throughout the day, none of which they have harvested themselves. Seriously, stop asking me for snacks. You know where the flippin’ pantry is!
The truth about juggling work and family
Of course, the whole school holiday/harvest system has been in place far too long to change it anytime soon. So we continue to juggle. And struggle. We plan the traditional school holiday activities in our limited free time. We rely on take away dinners so we can take the kids to a late movie or ice-skating session at 5pm.
We ask our partners to take a few days off or to switch shifts and work extra early mornings. It means we probably don’t see our husbands much, but, hey, as long as someone is watching the kids.
We ask for flexible hours or to work from home. Then, after witnessing our houses get covered in craft materials and listening to our kids complain about being bored, we discover working from home is also freaking hard.
Most of all, we promise ourselves that next school holidays, we will be more organised. We’ve got 10-11 weeks until the next round of kid-free fun is upon us. Surely we can get our sh*t together by then, right? Or at least stock the pantry with more snacks…