Are you ready to succeed in the school holidays?

I love my daughter, I really do. I love her so much, like more than words could ever say. But now that I’m used to her being at school 5 days a week, the summer holidays fill me ever so slightly with dread.

Firstly, yes I’m very lucky that I work for myself so I’m not faced with using up all my annual leave and booking in expensive holiday clubs. Also, Sophie will be at her Dad’s for 50% of the time, so I can cram in work during that time and then hopefully dedicate as much of my weeks with her, to her.

But, as all business owners will know – you can’t always predict when work will come in or a crisis will hit (COVID-19 has more than proved that), and as lovely as my clients are they wouldn’t take too kindly to having three weeks without being able to contact me or have any work completed.

So, what’s a working mum to do? Again, I could work when she’s gone to bed but I know my energy levels, and entertaining her for 12 hours is far more exhausting than actually working, so it just doesn’t fit for me to work past 8pm. Naps are long gone (for Sophie, I wish I could justify a midday snooze) so there’s no hope of cramming in some work whilst she sleeps during the day.

I’ve been trialling my weeks to see if I can essentially do a fortnight’s work in one week, and theoretically it’s doable but again, how often does what’s theoretically possible actually come true? Things crop up, work takes longer than expected plus I would like some time to breathe or eat whilst she’s away. So the truth is I’m going to have to work when she’s here for at least some of the time, and she really, really hates that. The mum guilt is bad enough without a chorus of ‘but you always work’ on repeat so I’ve been wracking my brains for ways to entertain her, keep her safe and be able to delve into some work at the same time.

I don’t like to put her on an iPad and ignore her, not because I judge anyone who does, but because she turns into an actual monster when I try and get her off it again. So I avoid technology at all costs. Luckily we have the dog and the rabbits which keep her entertained for about 5 minutes whilst I can check my emails but I’ve been looking for something that will occupy her enough for me to actually create some content or get stuck into Canva.

Technically still technology, but she does enjoy Yoga on YouTube. So Again if I just need 20 to 30 minutes to concentrate that I know I can pop that on, and the fact that it’s yoga makes me feel considerably less guilty. She would sit and watch a film or the TV but as above, she can be hard to tear away from the screen once she’s on it. A yoga session has a more definitive ending and at least she’s exercising whilst she’s watching it.

Firstly, we’ve invested in our garden and she essentially has her own park out there, so when the weather allows I’ll set myself up on the patio furniture and hopefully she’ll happily play on her slide or swing. For some reason she only stays out there if I’m out there too so kicking her out and staying in my office isn’t an option but I’m lucky we have the space for her to run around and play outside – fingers crossed for some sunshine!

Another option I’ve thought of is softplay, I’ll be honest I’m not one of those mums who is very good at child-led activities. The fact that Sophie enjoys coming to the yard and doing the things I love brings me a lot of joy and so much relief. I don’t know if it’s a lack of maternal instinct but yeah, anything where there are hoards of children overwhelms me slightly, but she’ll be safe, she’ll be enclosed and she should be able to blow off some steam whilst I can get my head down (not literally, I’ll be looking up to check on her of course). So I’ve been researching soft play centres to at least take her somewhere new.

I know that my Mum or friends would take her for the day, but the truth is I’m quite selfish when it comes to my time with Sophie. I share her enough already with her Dad so when she’s with me, she’s really with me. So anything I end up doing will be for as short amount of time as possible, and I will make it up to her with plenty of activities where she has my full attention.

Working Mums, if you have any other ideas for entertaining them whilst actually being productive at work please do share! I hate her playing alone too much and then I just feel awful when she does go to bed, so I don’t think I’ll ever win the internal battle inside my head but at least I might keep my business afloat?