31 May 2023

All working parents I know loathe “the juggle”. Until you experience it in full force, nothing can prepare you for it.

But why is the juggle an appropriate topic for a Career blog post? Well look around your office or Teams meeting today. How many of your colleagues or clients experience the juggle every day? Sit down at their desk and put on their work face after a morning of school runs, and more often than not an argument about shoes. I speak from experience, this is not for the fainthearted.

So this blog is a cathartic piece for me – a download of the week leading up to half term and all the challenges along the way.

I genuinely considered deleting WhatsApp on Wednesday evening. After a day fighting the (never ending) battle with my work inbox, the last thing I wanted to do was spend the evening wading through almost 100 texts.

But as the work emails demand to be read, so do the (still, at this point, incoming) messages – and it was the class group that was taking up my screen time allowance.

To be clear, this is not a complaint about our wonderful school – my daughter loves the all the enrichment activity and who can argue with Health & Fitness week. It’s just…a lot. And it makes “the juggle” feel like flaming batons rather than the ever present many, many plates in the air.

So I wade through homework deadlines, the PE kit requirements and swimming reminders. I note with alarm (read full blown panic) that the sports day is scheduled for 3 hours on Friday. And yes, it was in an email I received 3 weeks ago but I barely keep on top of my calendar as it is.

But hang on – it’s half term next week! I don’t have to drag one reluctant child out of bed whilst simultaneously negotiating with the other one that she might perhaps be a bit warm in woollen tights, a Frozen dress and a hoody in 20 degree heat. The mornings may even include a cup of tea before I log on. Goodness – I’m living the actual dream.

Alas this moment of joy and hot beverage anticipation is short lived. I realise in abject horror we have forgotten to arrange childcare for two out of the five days.

For reasons I cannot fathom, the May half term always falls through my carefully considered holiday planner net. So I check my holiday balance – nope I wiped that out with the Easter and summer holidays. My husband does the same – a similar report.

We are incredibly lucky to have wonderful, supportive parents who step in whenever needed. And yet again they come to our rescue. By some miracle it was on their calendar so calm is restored.

Now all that remains is to arrange the camping holiday we promised (after checking the long range forecast), work out who can do their Friday morning meetings remotely from the school sports field and wash the just discovered, still damp swimming kit from last week.

One last glance at my phone (screen time restrictions out the window), just one notification – what harm can checking that do? The flaming batons have cooled and are back to manageable plate form.

“Did you know it’s an inset day on Monday?”

Expletives may or may not have been muttered.

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