If summer plans aren't nailed down yet, that could throw a working parent into a tailspin. Planning for the school break requires a whole new level of organizational management, particularly against the backdrop of longer hours on the job for many workers. • Now is the time to begin scoping out vacation dates and summer camps, negotiating flexible schedules and seeking out someone willing to cover for you when you take off. Here are some ideas to help with your summer work/life balance:
• The first challenge is to find dates that work. Some organized parents color-code each family member's summer schedule to find open weeks.
• Choose dates that correspond with downtime in your business. Talk to your boss or clients now to show conscientiousness.
• Get it on the calendar early. Once you figure out the best vacation time, give notice to your boss, customers and co-workers.
• Doug Arms, senior vice president at Ajilon Professional Staffing, suggests now is the ideal time to start doing your homework, organizing what needs to be done in the weeks leading up to your vacation and who you can train to fill in. You might do some of your tasks together for a few weeks. "You have to align your support team," he said.
• Plan to disconnect. Smart executives lead by example, making it acceptable to take time off and recharge. Ryan Skubis, district director of Florida for staffing company Robert Half International, said it becomes easier if you build a strong team around you. "The better team you build, the more peace of mind you have on vacation that your team is taking care of anything that comes up."
Jetting off to Europe isn't your only option to summer downtime. Flexibility in your work schedule may be just what you need to rejuvenate. Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours, suggests making a list of what would make this the best summer of your life and have your children and spouse do the same. Next, figure out how much time those activities take, including travel time, and put them on the calendar. Even if you can just take the morning off or leave early on Friday, look for something that takes three hours. "Time is easy to let slip away. You want to avoid that," said Vanderkam.
One of the most stressful chores on my to-do list is finding summer camps and activities that keep my kids busy, enriched and occupied while I work without requiring me to add hours to my drive time or exceed my budget.
Summer child care can be a working parent's largest annual expense. Enrollment at low-cost summer camps usually is limited and requests have doubled in recent years, according to a work/life report released by ComPsych, a national provider of employee assistance and work life programs.
Jen Rinehart of the Afterschool Alliance suggests parents start with their after-school care providers. "Most kids who participate in after-school programs are more likely to be in summer programs. They usually don't end up on waiting lists."
For the job hunter
Summer is not the time to let up. This summer there may be more temp jobs that turn into permanent hiring. Skubis said more employers plan to bring in temporary help this year. "They recognize it helps with morale. Vacationing employees don't have to come back to a massive pileup."