Christmas and Children at home? Survival tips for the Working Parent

by ParentalChoice
in Holidays, Flexible working, Childcare
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Facing the prospect of combining work and children over the Christmas period this year?

Helen Letchfield from Parenting for Professionals provided us with this great article to try and relieve the pressure:logo_pfp1-new%20(2)

Nativity plays – done; teachers’ presents – done; Christmas cards – done; last school run – done.

So now the next challenge – how much time to take off over Christmas and who is going to look after the kids on the days in between when you are back at work?  Extended Christmas holidays makes child care even more challenging to sort out if you are planning on working.  Parental Choice are experts in the area of childcare:

“It may seem obvious but the trick to effective childcare is thinking ahead. Start with your immediate family: will your partner be working as well or can you coordinate your working and non-working days with him? Do you have family or friends close by who would welcome a playdate / sleep over? If your immediate family is not an option, then there are plenty of nannies around at this time of year who have been given time off from their usual families and are looking for the odd day or two of work to carry them over. Contact your local nanny agency to see if they have any temporary staff available to babysit for a couple of days. (Parental Choice has a network of nanny agencies we can recommend.) If you don’t want to leave your children alone with someone they don’t know, at least this gives you the option of working from home so your children know where to find you in an emergency but you have the time to concentrate on your work as well.” Sarah-Jane Butler, Parental Choice

Once your childcare plan is sussed, we all know that Christmas is about celebrating ‘quality family time together’. It can be difficult to do this, however, when you still have to work worries lingering and your brain is still in manic overdrive mode. Making the transition between the working week and the family at home isn’t easy, but recognising the differences between the 2 worlds of work and family can really help:

Life at Work
Life at Home
Mentally stressful
Physically tiring
Focused on yourself
Children first
Slower pace with babies and toddlers
Monitored and reviewed
Parenting is largely a thankless task!

You can see from the above that many parts of life at work and home are actually opposite – the most obvious being that you are mentally stimulated at work, and at home, running around after children is pretty physically exhausting.

Try consciously making that cultural shift from life at work to family dynamics and manage the transition to make sure you have an enjoyable family break:

  1. Keep your last afternoon at work as free of meetings as possible to give you time to catch up and follow up
  2. Consider the change in environments and recognise that you will need time to adjust. Start to wind down on the last journey home from work and then do whatever you need to de-stress before you spend time with the family – take a bath, go to the gym, get some fresh air
  3. Children also need time to get used to their change in routine as the holidays commence.Change in routines from nursery, pre-school or school to daily home life need a little time to accommodate. Children can be over-whelmed and excited by one or both parents being around, or other family members, so keep the days simple and slow at first.  Don’t try to pack in too much and keep to the same eating and sleeping patterns where possible
  4. Switch off completely from work. Continuous sneaky peeks at your Blackberry are really tempting, but you won’t achieve anything except reminding yourself of your work stresses.  If you really need to be in touch, try limiting email or phone call time to 1 slot a day
  5. Recognise that Christmas in particular can be a very stressful time, where families can feel ‘forced together’.  We all know that feeling of spending time with relatives you only see once a year and don’t actually have very much in common with at all.  There is also a lot of pressure to play ‘happy families’.  This can be tough and it can sometimes feel like a relief to be back at work and in your own space again.  Patience, tolerance, deep breath…..
  6. Finally, Christmas is so special to children and they love it when you spend quality time playing with them.  It can be stressful with the cooking, cleaning, entertaining etc so it’s tempting to sit back when you have a minute to relax.  Make sure you delegate some of the jobs and join in the Christmas fun!


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