Sometimes, a school holiday tumble shakes my brain out of routine, leaving me ready to tackle a new time, when brand new ideas are demanded at work…

For a freelance home-office worker, it can be a challenge to balance your own work routine with the holiday needs of your stay-at-home kids. Here’s how to do it, and stay sane in the process.

I’m probably never going to be the type of parent who whips her kids off to Switzerland for a little skiing trip when school’s out. Bank balance and inability to ski aside, I really enjoy the school holidays at home with my child, even though it’s always a tumble.

You see, I work from home. This statement always elicits two sorts of responses.

“Oh gosh, you’re so lucky! You must have so much time!”

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“Oh shame. You must get bored and lonely. I’ll drop in for tea some time.”

Both of these are, without question, two of the most annoying responses you can ever give someone who works from home. To answer them, succinctly, I say this:

“No, I actually have less time than ever, because I now work way more hours and you’re more than welcome to come to my house and have a cup of tea. Please make me one too and bring it to my desk, because I’m on deadline and haven’t had a moment to have one yet, thanks.”

A jumbled scenario

This scenario becomes even more jumbled over the school holidays, as I aim to spend quality time with my ever-growing daughter and making sure I make my deadlines for those weeks.

But, as much as I’d love to say that I close my computer and whip out the Monopoly for a long and lazy game with her, it just doesn’t happen. The world of work does not stop just because school’s out, and the need for routine remains high.

My normal working day runs from 7am to 3pm, and then starts up again at 8pm, when my child goes off to bed, running until whenever my to-do list for the day is complete. When she’s on holiday though, this becomes a little more fluid and I have to cater for breaks and incidental interruptions.

That’s why, over the holidays, I make sure to schedule meetings early in the morning, so they’re not interrupted by “Mom, what’s for lunch?” questions.

We are very, very lucky. We have a supportive family network that will tackle childcare in an emergency. But when it comes to play dates with her mates, my kid gets even luckier.

My network of school moms

Thanks to my little network of school moms and close friends, play dates are set up and work in rotation, so I’ll sometimes have a day with kids careening round the house, but on other days it’s as quiet as a tree sans leaves in here. Planning and scheduling work around these days makes my life a little easier, and I’m up front with the people I work with about them.

I am a parent who likes rules and, when it comes to routine, I’m the stickiest stickler around. I have to be, especially when I know I need the night’s quiet time to get work done. But, during the holidays, it’s a little more difficult to enforce an 8pm bedtime so…we’ve turned it into an indulgence.

Because I need to work from 8pm, my kid gets to stay up and choose what she’d like to do until about 10 o’clock and then sleep in the next morning (calm down, parenting police, she’s hitting 10 this year, and she gets enough sleep).

Most often, she chooses quiet activities like reading or spending extra time playing games on her tablet (again, calm down, parenting police, it’s the holidays).

The school holiday tumble

And while school holidays can upset the apple cart a little, it’s not so bad that I’m left bewildered and behind on the week by the time we need to start shining school shoes again.

Sometimes, that little school holiday tumble shakes my brain out of routine, leaving me fresh and ready to tackle a new time, when brand new ideas are demanded at work.

By Cath Jenkin