How to juggle work & kids during the school holidays – and not lose the plot!

As a working mum and small business owner I always find the long school holidays pretty full on – and this year is not any easier. Like everyone else, we have already had our kids at home full-time for four months. And now we have two months more ahead, without even the focus of home schooling. So from now on, there is a lot more to juggle in some ways.

As I write this, it is a rainy holiday Sunday morning. What a perfect time to catch up on a bit of blog writing!

Luckily my kids are older now, as I used to have to get up super early to catch some peaceful work time before they woke up, and did the same in the evening, working late once they were tucked up in bed. I used to burn the candle at both ends, and I do admit to getting myself pretty burned out several summers in a row.

I still do stretch out my day to some extent, as I love especially to pootle around a quiet house in the morning whilst the teens and tween are snoozing… and because I love what I do, my brain is always buzzing when I wake up filled with thoughts of new blog ideas, mentoring tips for my team or a ways to make our clients happier and healthier; and I want to get cracking with my day and get the urgent emails done before the family chaos ensues.

Here are some tips that have made a huge difference to the big juggle and given me the brain space to be able to continue loving my work, be a reasonably good mum and wife, with time for all my darlings’ individual needs and also give myself time for myself so I feel I have had a bit of a break and a change of pace too!

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Write a diary before bed

Diary writing is something I have adopted during lockdown which has made a massive difference to my feelings of overwhelm. It has helped calm my mind of clutter before going to sleep, and I feel has also improved my quality of sleep.

As well as getting my thoughts of the day on paper, I also write a list of intentions for the next day – all the things I have to get done, those high priority things that are urgent and pressing. I also have a “stragglers list” which are all the things I need to do at some point but not straight away – things like booking an optician appointment for the boys, upcoming birthdays to remember or social media ideas. It’s pretty messy and not like a traditional diary, but it works for me. This is my key tool to prevent myself getting distracted from the important stuff.

Sleep well

When my daughter was born, she was a good sleeper, but I became a chronic insomniac as trying to juggle a new business with two tinies was hard, and I expected far too much of myself. It was when I started to learn more about the adrenal glands and how out-of-sync cortisol levels during the day and at night can really tip the circadian rhythm out of sync.

I had to work really hard to get myself sleeping properly and not to always feel shattered during the day. You can learn more about Adrenal Fatigue here and I still take Magnesium and Ashwagandha before bed when I know I have taken on too much or my brain is buzzing too much.

Hold off the booze

However tempting an ice cold glass of Rose or two is on a summer’s evening, I find that if I drink alcohol more than about once a week it really affects my energy levels and mood and it also makes me feel a bit scatty…..and then I feel like a terrible mummy.

It’s mainly because I don’t sleep very well and so I lose that precious me-time the next morning that centres me and helps me organise my day. Instead I drink a lovely large glass of fizzy water and fresh lime or a big cup of delicious Pukka herbal tea. When out I will try and choose a yummy botanical non-alcoholic drink like Pentire or Seedlip, which I absolutely love, and these make an evening out a little bit more special. I know lots of women who have found that quitting or dramatically cutting back on the booze has been a game changer for surviving the school holidays.

Listen to Podcasts

Podcasts have become one of my most important ways to switch off, as I’m not a big TV watcher and I struggle to focus in on reading unless it’s just before bed. I can listen to a podcast and cook or tune in whilst I am ironing – sometimes I even listen to one in the bath! I listen to a wide variety of podcast conversations from ones that make me belly-ache laugh, to geeky nutrition ones and have learnt so much about other people’s perspective on the world, as well as some inspiring chats from other small business owners who I can totally relate to and learn from.

If you haven’t listened to one yet, then there are plenty of podcast apps to download on your phone or tablet. Simply search for the genre or person you would like to be inspired by and you will find a gold mine – some are as short as 15 minutes and others are more like an hour and a half which you can easily stop and start.

My favourites podcasts right now are:

Time in nature

Lockdown has made me appreciate living in the wilds of Wiltshire even more than ever before. We have been blessed with amazing weather and after a very soggy winter, our lockdown walks, bike rides and runs on Salisbury Plain have been a bonus, replacing the school run and the work commute.

I feel this has made a proper difference to our health and has been a great way to connect with each other – we have had the best conversations whilst hanging out with Mother Nature and I will remember this summer as a wonderful time for getting to know even more about what is going on inside my children’s brains.

I have also made time to take time out from the family and go on my own walks and runs for a proper brain break, and I certainly feel like a better mum and wife when I have allowed myself time out from my clients, team, husband and kids to look after me.

A family needs a strong and well-balanced mum as the glue to keep the family working, and I’m extremely lucky to have had some pretty strong female role models in my life to show me the way. It’s really not selfish to give yourself the time and space to look after yourself, as if you crumble, the rest of the family will sink too. I hope these tips help to keep you strong and balanced over the rest of the summer and help to stop feelings of overwhelm or burnout!

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  1. Loved this – I can concur to all tips. I’m not an early riser, wish I was but tend to have an hours peace working from the sanctity of my bed through morning eyes. Entertaining one child is as hard as three. I spend my day making sure she has stuff to do as well as my own work – and take time out to play with her. Got another 6 weeks – thank goodness for time by the sea!!