School’s Out for Summer
As the countdown to “school’s out” starts in earnest, are you ready for the impending onslaught of routine and pace change? The start of July is the month where suddenly reality bites around the internal conflict of wanting to spend time with the children whilst keeping career/ business afloat.
Here, some thoughts on how to enjoyably navigate with tiny tots the 6-8 week break whilst maintaining momentum and credibility within the legal profession.
(Please note, comments not intended to be applicable to those with older children/ teens. All bets are off there!)
Top 5 summer survival tips
In order to ease the transition from work mode to summer holidays, here are my top 5 summer survival tips for Working Parent Lawyers:
Manage Expectations, both yours and your children’s.
Think of your work priorities over summer and what can realistically be achieved whilst still getting a well-deserved break and, more to the point, that all too precious time with your tots, assuming they are still at an age where they are happy to hang out with you! If you haven’t already heard of it, you might like to explore Steven Covey’s time management matrix to help you prioritise tasks by how important/ urgent they are, and proportionately allocate time to spend on them accordingly. The rest can wait. That way, you free up more time for bucket and spade duties.
Plan Childcare well in advance.
Jim Rohn famously said about the importance of planning, “You run the day or the day runs you.” By meticulously attacking the day in the way that you pre-planned, you have a better chance of succeeding at all that you set out to, whether at home or at work, rather than being buffeted every which way by unexpected and distracting events. Even if you have decided you will spend X time with the kids, Y time in the office, can this be accommodated? What are the logistics as to availability and cost? The sooner you make a realistic and workable plan, the easier it will be to achieve.
Whether you are in the office or working from home with the kids around, in order to work efficiently and productively, be present in whatever task you are completing. That way you will get it done in the most timely and effective manner. When you are with the children, enjoy it. Put away the mobile devices. By doing so, you won’t allow yourself to be distracted by the pull of work emails and “urgent” calls which will take you away from precious time with your kids and make them and you all feel you are only getting a small snap shot of one another’s time.
Adjust your tempo.
Remember that in the firm or Chambers, whatever you tell yourself, everyone is in fact dispensable. At home you are not. The legal world will not grind to a juddering halt if you adjust your hours or tweak your usual foot to the floor approach. Certainly whilst in Chambers working at the Crown Court late July through August at, I always noticed a definite slow-down in pace. Lots of people are away. Arranging meetings can be futile as those who need to be present aren’t available. Take the opportunity to rest and regroup. This approach will pay dividends on your return to work full throttle in September when you will hit the ground running refreshed and revitilised.
Imagine looking back after the vacation. Would you wish you’d spent less time with your kids?
By posing the question, that’s my way of turn Bronnie Warings findings of the top 5 regrets of the dying on its head: The dying wished they’d spent less time at work. So enjoy the time you have with the children. Be grateful for it. This is the perfect excuse to take care of your wellbeing and recharge as a family. Take the time you might not otherwise enjoy when you are stacked out and overwhelmed at work. Where you can, spend time with them and savour every precious moment. Work can wait. Time won’t.
Nikki Alderson is a former criminal barrister, now Corporate and Executive Coach supporting law firms and Chambers attract and retain female talent within the legal profession and empowering female lawyers to achieve career ambitions whilst creating congruent lives. Having gained great insights into the responsibilities, pressures and “expected” career paths of those, particularly women, working in law, Nikki sees a challenge within the profession, which she hopes to address through coaching, of retaining talented women role models, given the dearth of women in senior partnership roles and within the judiciary
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