The holiday is such an exciting time for children of all ages. I mean, no school, no homework, more time to play, later bedtimes, and generally the kind of rocking life they worked the past three months or more in the just concluded academic session for.
However, for the parents, especially the stay-at-home parents who I am specifically writing to today, the work at home just got increased exponentially.
You had, say, 7 AM to 2 PM at least to do your own thing while the kids were in school, but now you have all 24 hours with the kids. And it is even hard to get them to observe the much needed siesta or even wake later. No way. They sleep late, rise early, and fight afternoon sleep like a plague.
Oh, but there is someone else besides you who also gets overwhelmed when the kids are on holiday, and that is your domestic help, if you have one. Sometimes we forget that even though they are paid to help us at home, they are also humans, and the long break can overwhelm them.
Once the holidays rolled in, my best friend, Funto Ibuoye, who incidentally has two boys the same age as mine, mentioned that she didn’t want to overwhelm her domestic staff, and so needed a plan for the boys. I thought that was very considerate, as some of us would just pass on the kids to the help, thus increasing their workload, as they still have to keep up with other domestic duties.
I chased that rabbit down a bit and came up with a few suggestions to help parents not overwhelm the help, especially if you have a good one you do not want to lose. Truth be told, if they find themselves more overwhelmed than normal, without appropriate compensation, you may lose a good one. So here we go.
Have a holiday plan for the kids
You see, this is the most important thing you must do as a Domestic Queen. I have never liked the casual life. Nothing epic happens when we live casually. A plan always makes you more organised, efficient and peaceful. I drew up a plan for my boys’ holidays, right down to the end of August, after which I felt like it was okay to be casual about the first few days in September before school resumes.
And just to clarify, sending them off to grandma’s house (or any other relative) is half a plan. First, is it the right thing to do when you consider the realities and values of your family and the receiving family? Will they uphold (to a large extent) the family values you have fought so hard to keep? What will they do there? If not, you may have just quadrupled the work for the help, as they may have to include domestic and related duties at grandmama’s place, in addition to taking care of your kids. So be more intentional about your plan.
A sneak peek into my plan would reveal days with their cousins, sleepovers, or visits with my trusted friends who have kids my sons’ age. Week-long visits to both grandparents, fun places for kids (some free, most cheap), farm visits (this is a great tip for moms, as the kids will be enthralled by these animals and you get free entry, yay), and two weeks of summer school.
I included summer school, and right at the end too, because I didn’t need them too rusty when school began. Check out my previous article on summer school.
Also, it gives me and my help time to truly rest.
Insist on siesta
I do not know why kids fight sleep, but I do know that when they are older, they will crave these moments. Until then, though, you must insist on siesta. Even if they have to just stay in the room and leave their eyes open, that is fine. But an hour, at least, is required where absolutely nothing is happening with them. My sister says that having the help sleep when the kids sleep is good advice, and I agree. Sometimes. Oftentimes, she may need to catch up on work.
Relax the domestic work rules
While you do not want to have your home become a pig sty, you may also want to relax some of the rules around so they are not overwhelmed with work. For instance, if they have to mop the house daily, can we reduce that to three times a week? Can you compromise on ironed cloths, especially when it is for staying at home, or just have them delivered to a laundry guy? If they have to fetch water from somewhere outside the home, can you engage the services of a mai ruwa (someone who helps deliver water to your home) instead for this short time? Can you take on a little of their duties? For instance, I decided I would be the one to bathe and dress my kids, and so frees my help sometime in the morning to do only what must be done. Look closely at the domestic schedule and see what you can relax just for six weeks.
Insist on work free days (or hours)
This can work if you can afford that they go on a couple days off to maybe visit family. Not only does that give them a much needed break so they can return in a better state to work, it also allows you to see firsthand how the processes in your home work, or do not work, and also provides more bonding time with the kids.
While it is very tempting to tell them that this holiday period is not for them to take their ‘off day,’ you should actually do the opposite and let them go for a few days, and even pay for their transport. If this is not possible, then maybe let them take a few hours off in the day to sleep, see a movie, or just do something fun beyond work. Trust me, that deposit will never be forgotten and will yield you good interest. Your kids need happy domestic staff, not overwhelmed frustrated ones who think their madam is wicked.
Enroll them in summer school
I already hinted that in point one, but do not let anyone guilt trip you into refusing the help that summer school brings. If you are wise about it, then summer school is very okay.
Oh, and I have a bonus which almost always works.
If there is no way for any of the above to happen, and they just have to deal with the overwhelm that the holiday brings, then compensate them for it. Sit them down and tell them nicely that the holidays may be overwhelming, so they need to get ready for it. Let them know a generous bonus will come their way at the end. People usually cope better if they are prepared for what is coming, and know they will be compensated for it. But do not just rush to my bonus when you didn’t even pay any mind to points one to five.
Do you have more tips? Please share in the comments section.