Children look forward to vacations, even more so for the summer vacation. It’s exciting to be let loose for countless hours per day. No getting up for school, no homework, just hours of fun. But for parents, those 6 hours a day to get things done around the house, or work from home are precious. When the summer vacation arrives, it is great to be able to spend so much time with your children, but that leaves a lot to be balanced.
So how do you make the most out of your summer vacation?
The summer vacation is known for its peak travel prices and difficulty with last minute booking. However, there are plenty of ways that you can escape for the day or for a few hours, or for a few nights. Spontaneous road trips are a lot of fun, but really someone needs to plan spontaneous stuff.
If you want to plan a quick spur of the minute getaway, then try to think about locations that are 2-3 hour drive maximum. Or if you like long road trips then go further afield. There are typically plenty of campsites and motel options when you are driving, so you can make the most of that and book quickly when you decide to stop.
Roadtrips give you the freedom to stop and explore anywhere, so make the most of it for a short while. Another great thing about road trips is that usually, it’s quite outdoorsy so pets can tag along – cutting out the need for pet sitters.
If you have a couple of destinations in mind to visit, in the run-up to the summer vacation set up a few notifications. Find a few hotels that you like the look of and see if they have a mailing list if so sign up, and often they will put last-minute deals in the emails. Set up some google alerts for things like travel, last-minute deals, and weather. There are more specific options that may be applicable like how to fly from the U.S, visa requirements, or advice for particular countries. Think about what applies to your situation and get as much information as you can.
You can also set up alerts for airfare drops from:
- TripAdvisor Flights
There are plenty of significant savings to be made when it comes to summer vacation. Late August is a great time to book flights, as traditionally business trips tend to be slightly less. The lack of demand brings airfare down and makes hotels more affordable too. Some cities are too hot and humid to be really enjoyed all summer, but it can be a great way to get away for a few days and explore.
If you don’t want to lose deposits in case you change your mind, or you spot another offer that is cheaper, then free cancellation is your best friend. Try to make sure that you only make bookings that have the option of free cancellation. Booking.com has a wide range of free cancellation options. This also gives you the opportunity to make some preliminary plans, or potentially book a number of stops on a road trip.
If you have decided where you will be travelling, pick up some tickets or passes online. They can come with a pretty hefty discount, and often give you access to a number of different activities like museums, art galleries, gardens and more.
Almost every city, town or village will have a number of free activities. Spend some time online looking for ‘free things to do with kids in X city’, and plan your trip around that so that you can decrease the spend but still do plenty while you are there. Places that have outdoor swimming pools, parks, and even soft play can be a great option to occupy kids on long trips.
If you work from home, you are going to have to find a balance between your children being home and managing to get your job done. This can be more complicated because it might limit how far you can travel when you can travel, and what is most convenient. It is never too late for you to re-do any of your usual routines or timetables to fit in time with your children and your work. If you have the freedom to move your working hours around, then it might be for the best.
Deadlines can be a blessing and a curse. If you control your own deadlines, you can use Parkinson’s Law to your advantage. Your working hours need to be even more productive than usual. Here are some Pomodoro tools that can help you maximize your working hours. Pomodoro tools are great if you have had to move our working hours to the evening or early morning but don’t want to spend too long working.
Here are some Pomodoro tools that can help:
This will break up tasks into 25 minutes slots and give you a 5-minute break in between, then after 4 poms, you get a longer break. If your children are older, then this might not be so much of a concern as they can often occupy themselves.
To-Do or Not To-Do
There are some things that can simply wait. And while on a typical school day you might have more than enough time to get your work done, it can be harder when the kids are home. You have to decide what you are going to put on your to-do list, and what can be ditched for a while.
Some people call it eating the frog, by getting what they don’t want to do out of the way first. This method makes the rest of your day look and feels easy. These tasks are better done in the early morning.
Alternatively, you could write three-five work tasks that you need to get done that day. If you manage to get those done, then you can tackle extras.
If you don’t freelance or own your own business, it can be much harder to trim your to-do list down to be more manageable.
The early hours, before anyone is awake, might be your saving grace. Unfortunately, you are going to have to swap some of those 40 winks for a few hours of work. Setting the alarm for 2 hours earlier than you usually get up might be a bit of a shock to the system, it is more helpful to do it in smaller increments. 15-20 minutes at a time is slow enough to work and still make an impact.
If you fit in focused tasks here, you can then catch up on phone calls, emails and smaller tasks during the day.
This one can be tough, but sometimes you’re going to have to take calls or deal with important moments in your day. Try to set a clear boundary so that you are disturbed less often during those periods. This can be more difficult with smaller children, and it might be a case of waiting until nap time to get some of your work done.
If one of the questions you get asked 9000 times a day is for a snack or a drink, then have a snack and drink station set-up with easy to eat snacks. Fruit snack bags (avoid whole grapes), dried cereals, water or juice bottles set up, and maybe even some junk food options. If it is set up the night before, they won’t need to interrupt to ask for more snacks.
Book Time Off
If you have the ability to book time off, then do so. Even if you don’t have any travel plans, it is vital that you get some time to relax. Even if you just hang out on the couch and watch some movies, or finally get around to reading the book that has been gathering dust. Taking time to relax is vital for your mental health, and will stop you feeling like you have to balance everything all the time.
If you have the possibility of family help, playdates or childcare and you need some then take it. It is easy to feel guilty about childcare when we are working at home, but it is essential that you aren’t trying to stretch yourself too thinly to get everything done.
It is important to note that sometimes the day just won’t go as planned no matter how much you try to manage it. Accidents might happen, work calls get moved, and travel plans can sometimes need to be changed with a moment’s notice. Take a minute to assess the situation and see how you can make it work. Be kind to yourself and remember that the kids are used to being with friends and being occupied all day in school, being home is a novelty and might take them a few days to ease into it too.