The School Holiday Conundrum
As I breathed a contended sigh of relief of a return to routine after the holidays, I got to thinking about how many people I have spoken to over the years that have perceived school breaks as a barrier to progressing other areas of their lives.
So, school holidays, how do you deal with that one? Just when you think you have an ideal job come up or an entrepreneurial business idea, then someone mentions the dreaded ‘SH’ words and you stand there like a deer (or kangaroo) caught in the headlights and freeze (or as I did, release a torrent of non-child friendly expletives). Just as you had got your head around the logistics of the school run; emergency back up’s for when said child/ren get sick; train/car routes examined for the most efficient run; after school club timings organised with a precision that the SAS would gladly sell their soul for and even organised a weekly menu planner with designated places in the freezer for all the advance meals you will be cooking (hey, you could have enough to offer the SAS!) the school system throws you an unappreciated curve ball!
Now don’t get me wrong, I love the school holidays especially as I can currently enjoy the luxury of being able to participate in some time off with my children – the more relaxed rhythm to daily life, not having to think ahead and plan packed lunches etc. but I do remember well the initial despondency that hit me when I contemplated how to manage school holidays when I had decided to return to working for an employer – my annual leave would not cover all the holidays, I did not have family to help out and the cost of childcare……..well, was it really worth working??
Being the person I am, I kinda shrugged my shoulders and thought, sod it, something will work out, let’s just do it!! And I did.
Now I appreciate that for some personalities that kind of thinking will have you breaking out in a cold sweat of organisational horror but bear with me – there is logic in my thinking.
Remember the old cliché that gets brought out every now and again regarding pregnancy and childbirth? You know, the one about how women have done this for centuries and thus there is an underlying assumption that you will get through it regardless because it’s what women do. Now I am not about to debate the rights and wrongs of this slightly misogynist view BUT women ultimately do get through childbirth in their own way, unique to their individual experience.
And the good news is, so too, will you get through the minefield of negotiating work, childcare and school holidays – Yes, really, you will! And here’s how:
Embrace uncertainty as that is the only thing you can be certain about!!!
- Flexibility – let go of the need to have a precise plan for the next god knows how many years of school life because if there’s one thing I can guarantee, it ain’t going to be the same on day 852 as it was on day 1.
- Absolutely RESEARCH your options for childcare, be it private; government funded; home care; family; work crèche etc. However, realise that your needs and that of your child may outgrow and/or change the initial arrangement so be open to other options.
- Don’t panic – if for example, finances are a concern, it may not be a forever thing, as your child gets to make friends and you build your networks, you may find that you can do an exchange of child care with one or more parents therefore avoiding costly summer camps.
I’m now 14 years into negotiating school holidays and my solutions have been varied and ever changing. During that time I have done many differing things from being an employee to being self-employed, the schools and countries have changed and different friendships have evolved (both mine and my children’s) and each of these have brought about their own unique set of challenges and solutions – none of them have been the same but they have all worked – sometimes perfectly and well-orchestrated and sometimes a little disjointed or last minute. BUT what has held me together in those odd dark moments of OMG what am I going to do, is having absolute certainty that there will be a solution and if that doesn’t work out, it will be ok because there will be another one along eventually (a bit like buses really!!)
So, if the only thing holding you back from pursuing your dreams of a working life is those school holidays, I say to you, (in the words of Bob Marley) – Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be all right).