Rather dichotomous words in a phrase. Nonetheless, recently, Los Angeles Unified School District shut down all schools due to credible bomb threats. As if that weren't enough to scare the pants off parents, add the pressure of finding last minute child care in order to honor work obligations and you've got one anxiety provoking situation! Even without such scary situations, how do we reconcile all that needs to get done during the holidays, attend to our business responsibilities, and babysit our kids at the last minute? Here are a few tips that could offer some temporary relief:
- Buddy up. Create a support team that you might be able to rely on in case of emergencies, such working out an arrangement with a stay at home mom or dad who could pitch hit watching your kids. Reciprocating by watching their kids on a weekend day when you are free allows them a personal play day.
- Plan for it. At the beginning of the new year, highlight those days that your kids are off from school for legal holidays and other school related functions. Plan your own work days around their schedule so you can either choose to be home with them and do something fun or make day care arrangements well in advance. For example, I recommend to my self-employed coaching clients that they create a 220 day work year comprised of 44 weeks at 5 working days per week, leaving 8 weeks "off" for vacations, illness, emergencies, holidays, and those days one just can't get it together. So if the situation arises where you HAVE to be off at the last minute, you can flow easier with less anxiety. Of course, the caveat is that when you are scheduled to work, you really have to work feverishly and with high efficiency!
- Make it fun. Enjoy the impromptu hookey day. Depending on your children's age, take a walk, ride bikes, read together, bake cookies. And don't forget, they can entertain themselves, too, so that you can...
- Work briefly. Again, depending on your children's age, create some private time for you to do only the essential work that must be done today. It's rather easy these days to have kids play with their tablets or watch movies for 30 minutes while you are making some important calls or writing a few crucial emails. In times of crisis, acknowledge that others are most likely having the same challenges as you and will understand a brief email that answers the specific question and lets them know that you can respond in the near future with more detail.
Life is full of challenges and they seem to arise when we are least prepared. Contingency plans will help you deal more calmly and productively ultimately helping everyone involved. Finally, enjoy a glass of wine in the evening to congratulate yourself for surviving the day!