Surviving the Summer holidays

Your people

First there was working remotely, then working remotely while home schooling, next, maybe your children went back to school - now the summer holidays loom.

Even in a non-pandemic world, the logistics of six weeks’ solid childcare poses certain challenges for working parents. But when those six weeks follow the last four  months, how will parents cope? How can they keep  juggling  work priorities while the kids’ routines have changed again?

And as responsible employers, how can you support this change in routine for all your employees?

The biggest thing to remember is that parents aren’t working at home during the school holidays. They’re working at home, in the school holidays, during a pandemic; the two are very different scenarios.

Tips for parents and carers:

Use your friends and family. As distancing restrictions relax and you’re able to meet other families, make the most of any support you can ask for. Do you have friends in the same situation? Consider childcare swaps so you can both have dedicated working time.

Introduce visual clues for when you’re busy at work, if your children are old enough to understand them. This could be wearing ‘work clothes’ or having headphones on.

Work early. Could you make the most of the light mornings by getting up earlier to get some work done before the rest of your household is up?

Be honest. When your team/manager asks how you are, try to tell the truth. Most people aren’t ‘fine’ at the moment, and your colleagues will probably empathise with you.

You and your family are your priority. Give yourself permission to have more down-time than usual.

Take any annual leave you can. If you’d booked to go away but your holiday is cancelled, keep the time off. Having a holiday at home with the kids will take the pressure off juggling working and caring.

Don’t have any annual leave left? You’re entitled to ask for unpaid parental leave. –It might not sound like a good solution, but you can’t put a price on your mental wellbeing.

If you choose to keep up the home-based learning, there are some great resources to help. Heart of the City ambassador BNP Paribas has shared this list to support parents. It covers all areas of the curriculum and has lots of ideas for fun activities – don’t reinvent the wheel, borrow it from someone else!

Tips for employers of parents and carers: 

Encourage senior leaders to share their challenges around working with children at home and acknowledge this as a business. This will make people who are struggling feel better and make it easier to ask for help.

Consider summer working hours. If you can offer all your employees more flexible or slightly reduced hours over the summer, this will benefit everyone and make the juggle for any working parents more bearable.

Tell people you trust them. Work will still get done even where people can’t work their full hours.

Ask your teams what would help them, and implement any suggestions which are realistic for your business.

Prioritise workloads – be clear when something isn’t urgent and give more flexible deadlines.

Encourage everyone to take the time they had booked so they can have a respite from juggling family and work. Your employees probably aren’t going on the holidays they planned, but it’s still important to have time off.

Remind employees about access to any care packages. This is a hugely demanding time that’s likely impacting most people’s mental health, so if you provide employee assistance programmes now’s the time to shout about  them.

Consider setting up a forum where your carer employees can get together and share their challenges and triumphs. Working remotely can be isolating and knowing your colleagues are in the same situations can be hugely supportive.

Say thank you. Acknowledge the sacrifices your teams are making to keep the business going and let them know they’re making a difference.

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