The approaching school summer holidays means increased pressure and stress for many working parents, it can be a struggle to maintain a positive work/ life balance. On one hand, you want to have a great time with your kids, make memories, enjoy the holiday, allow the kids to have fun at summer camps and make sure everybody is rested before the start of the next school year. At the same time, you would like to look after your career, develop your team, hit all important targets and deal with the ever-changing business landscape. Maybe, you also have an additional renovation project going on at home that you need to manage. We can put a lot of pressure on ourselves during the summer. And yes, ‘You can have it all, just not all at the same time’ (Betty Friedan, writer) or if you prefer: ‘You can have it all, but you can’t do it all” (Michelle Pfeiffer, actress). In this blog, I would like to share a few points and reflective questions to help you prepare and navigate summer in a way that you are not exhausted at the end of it. 😊

1. Share the mental load of planning and organising childcare with others

The majority of working mums take the responsibility for planning, organising, booking and arranging kids’ activities during the summer holidays. It can be an exhausting and complex task. What would it be like to involve your partner in the thinking and organising process? Can he give you some ideas, search for local holiday camps, speak to close relatives to see if they are willing to look after the kids for a couple of days? Or can he be a sounding board and support the decision-making?

2. Aim for ‘good enough’ (in terms of family experience)

Have you ever had a summer when you wanted to organise a fantastic time for the kids, full of fun activities, but somehow, they ended up arguing or something out of your control happened and at the end of it, they seemed to be indifferent or unhappy…? In many conversations with ambitious working parents, I found it helpful to get clarity on what ‘good enough’ may look like, it helps you set the bar, and almost define the measure of success. What does ‘good enough’ look like for your family this summer? What would be a stretch? What would be the absolute minimum that needs to happen? You may want to involve kids and your partner in this discussion.

3. Start discussions with your team about their summer plans early

Discussing holiday plans with your team members allows everybody to get the focus and a sense of priorities over the summer months. Encourage your team to consider how their colleagues’ absence may influence their work. For example, would they need to move some of the business activities or deadlines earlier to avoid any delays for customers? Also, if they take time off, would they need any support from others prior to, during or after that period?

4. Prioritise tasks and goals, negotiate deadlines and set boundaries

Having collected information from your family and your team, it is time to get clarity on your own priorities. What is absolutely essential to happen this summer? What are the things that you can delegate? What are the activities and tasks that can be delayed or dropped? What are the risks that you may want to mitigate now? Who or what do you need to say ’no’ to, so you can feel in control of your workload?

5. Focus on being present and cherish the moments you have

The best phrase I found about being present is: ‘Be where your feet are’ (it is also the title of the book by Scott O’Neil which is joining my ‘to read’ pile). When you are with your family, focus on that, notice your kids’ interactions, appreciate your surroundings, and use your senses to just be.  When you are at work and family matters are looked after by someone else (as per point 1 and 2), focus on getting things done and also on the experience of work, interactions with your team and stakeholders, creating safe culture and impacting others as a leader.

6. Check-in with your family and team

Continue conversations with your partner, family members and your team to check-in on how they are doing this summer.  If they need any support, don’t necessarily take their problems as yours to solve. You may want to coach them to explore what they would need to solve the issues and how can they get the right support. You might be surprised how resourceful people can be.

7. Create time for yourself

I highly encourage you to invest in a form of self-care activity that works for you. It can be a summer morning ritual, for example, spending 10 minutes in the garden, drinking coffee and journaling, going for a walk or a run with your dog, relaxing yoga and breathing exercises on the grass. These activities can help you boost your mood, regulate emotions and set yourself up for success during the day. If that is not possible, maybe you would like to stretch in the evening, sit in the garden and meditate, spend some time noticing your surroundings and reflect on the day with self-compassion or have a long bath and listen to a relaxing music. Whatever works for you and allow you to look after your body, mind and emotions.

If you feel that you need further support to manage your summer and acheive a positive work/ life balance, please reach out to me and let’s discuss how coaching can help you.

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