Have you ever sat at your laptop, not reading that email you really need to respond to, trying to block out the sound of tiny hands upturning furniture? Wait a second, were those greasy hand prints all over the fridge a moment ago?
If you’re a parent, you’re likely still recovering from the home schooling horrors caused by the pandemic. Just when you thought you could relax (well, work in peace) it hits us again.
The summer holidays.
Those six weeks stand alone as the greatest drain on parental energy and resources, trying to balance your work life around energetic toddlers and surly teenagers can feel impossible at times. A quick google search reveals that most advice for working parents enduring the summer holidays seem to have been written predominantly by non parents.
The most popular ‘top tips’ include;
- Partner up with friends – and risk the burden of entertaining more children, ones you like even less than your own! This also relies upon the assumption that you can work remotely.
- Bribe your family – becoming dependent on the availability (and whims) of others, be prepared to beg.
- Pay for childcare – not financially viable for everyone.
- Wake up before them – biologically impossible
- Make them activity packs – an extra job to add to the ever increasing list and one likely to be high effort, low reward (Let’s take a moment to acknowledge anyone who agonised over the perfect birthday present for their little darling, only to watch them disregard it immediately in favour of the box it came in)
- Tire them out – again, biologically impossible.
- Take them into the office with you – LOL.
- Preemptively inform your employer of working limitations – this is the first decent suggestion, despite neglecting the self employed and unfortunate employees of unreasonable organisations.
- Request flexible or deviated hours – Ahh flexible hours, the ‘band aid on a bullet wound’ for the working parent, but a band aid nonetheless!
All in all, not particularly inspiring.
For Data Protection practitioners, the balancing act doesn’t end here.- care to perform a SARs redaction in a starbucks? Freedom of information request in line at the pharmacy? When you work in a sector concerned with confidentiality, there are corners which cannot be cut. Remote working has revolutionised the working life for some but for others, it remains a pipedream.
The question remains, is there a magic solution for parents barely treading water against the tide of responsibility this summer? Unless we campaign for schools to abolish holidays (poor teachers!) it seems the classic cocktail of preemptive planning and praying for the best will have to do.
Alternatively? Sell your children.
DPAS Parent testimonies
Having a 5 year old boy and a 10 month old little girl the school holidays can be a little stressful. Working from home has its pros but also a negative aspect. Its great to be home and not paying for childcare but you are left juggling being a full time chef( snacks are almost every 20 minutes), football player and juggling your work load. The mum guilt kicks in and not being fully engaged with work can leave you feeling slightly overwhelmed. But having an understanding manager and trying to plan activities for the children is a huge help.
I have a 5 year old son and as I work from home, during the summer holidays most of the childcare falls to me. Juggling work with kids often leaves me feeling like I’m falling short, both as a professional and a parent. It’s never a nice feeling to beg your tiny ball of energy for five more minutes to concentrate before the conversation can turn back to dinosaurs. I have, however, perfected the art of responding to emails while participating in pokemon battles (in case you’re wondering, Joe tells me my favourite pokemon is Gyarados). My only advice is to plan as far ahead as you can and try not to let the less-than-productive days get you down.
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You can read our article, “Compassion in the Workplace”, if you want more advice on workplace culture.