Welcome to Army of Mums

Army of Mums Co-founder Helly Summerly

Co-founder, Helly Summerly, talks about life as a working mum, and why she’s championing flexible, freelance opportunities for working mums.

A very warm welcome …

I’m delighted that you have found Army of Mums. If you’re reading this, I assume you are either a busy working (or would be working) mum. Probably like me in search of a more balanced, flexible life. Or perhaps you are a progressive, diverse business that recognises the value that women can bring to the workforce. Either way, I am thrilled you are on board the journey with us. I can’t wait to share the exciting plans we have in store.

Mums and child

Why now?

You and I both know that mums are simply brilliant at getting things done, and actually enjoy working! Yet in the last year, more of us than ever seem to have left the workforce. Either because we’ve been forced, or felt forced, to leave due to the impact of the pandemic.

We know that many working mums were already struggling to juggle expensive childcare and long working hours before Covid-19 hit. Since then we’ve had the closure of schools and nurseries. The impossible demands of homeschooling and repetitive episodes of isolation. All of these have for many simply become incompatible with holding down a full-time job. (Never mind any hope of finding five minutes for a bit of ‘me’ time or self-care …)

Why do we need Army of Mums?

For many working mums, the return to work after becoming a parent can feel a bit ‘either/or’. Either you pay for expensive full-time childcare (which can eat up well over half the salary of even a well-paid job). Or you stay at home to raise your children, acknowledging that you may miss out on career progression opportunities or get left behind in your sector. (As a former marketing director, I am painfully aware of how much the digital marketing world moved on in the short time I was away bringing a tiny human into the world!)

There has been some great progress in terms of shared parental leave, job sharing and part-time opportunities. But we know that these are still few and far between for many working mums and sectors. We have heard countless stories of a tirelessly bargained for four day week realistically meaning five days of work crammed into four. All for a 20% pay cut … 

And most overwhelmingly, the number one reason working mums gave for wanting flexible work was this; they simply want to spend more time with their children and not miss out on precious moments in those special early years.

How we help working mums

We believe there are hundreds of projects and one-off tasks that mums can competently complete from home, and they can do this on a freelance basis in a way that works around their family life. It also means businesses get access to a huge wealth of talent that may otherwise be inaccessible to them.

Perhaps you’re a highly qualified lawyer who can offer a couple of hours’ legal advice to a start-up business. Or maybe you’re a social media expert keen to keep your skills fresh without returning to work full-time just yet.

You might be a business looking to outsource a discrete task such as writing a new employee handbook. Perhaps you have a task that your permanent team just can’t fit in on top of the day job. 

Flexible working for mums

What does a more flexible working life mean for you?

For me personally, as the Co-founder of a start-up, flexible working isn’t always about working fewer hours. But it’s definitely about working on my terms in a way that fits around my other commitments. Of course, the obvious benefits are being able to drop my daughter off at school and pick her up. And be around a bit more in the school holidays. But I also really value the mental benefits of being able to work when I feel most energised, and have a healthier lifestyle with time to exercise.

Having recently lost a parent, I’m also acutely aware of the importance of making time to see family and friends. And finally, music is my other big passion in life. I’m a freelance singer in my ‘spare’ time, so being able to fit that in is definitely a big factor in what makes me tick as a person!

What is your career background?

I studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Keble College, Oxford University where I was also a choral scholar. My father was a marketing director for Unilever, and brands and advertising have always fascinated me. So after graduating I decided to follow in his footsteps and pursue a career in marketing alongside my music.

After 10 years or so cutting my teeth in the corporate world of FMCG, I moved to a private equity-backed company where I eventually joined the board of directors with responsibility for marketing and innovation.

After I had my daughter, it enabled me to take some time out before setting up my own baby music business. Great fun and a bit of a change to my previous jobs! When the pandemic hit, I was once again in a board-level role, but after 6 months of juggling a 70 hour week with no childcare, I realised something had to change.

After a few months of much needed time out and soul searching, the opportunity to work on Army of Mums came up. I’ve now joined as Co-founder heading up all things brand, communications and community.

Working mums

What’s the road map for Army of Mums?

Right now we’re in data collection mode. We’re trying to connect with as many brilliant mums and open-minded businesses as we can. Then we’ll properly launch our full project matching platform later in the autumn. If that sounds like you, please email helly@armyofmums.com.

I’d love to chat with you personally about how we might be able to help or work together. We know we are only one small piece of the puzzle, and we also need many other reforms around childcare and maternity rights. But we’d like to at least be part of the solution. Working mums; your time is now and change begins here! 

Click here to sign up to Army of Mums

Army of Mums

How To Fit Movement Into Your Everyday For Working Mums

Working mum personal trainer

By Bianca Sainty, health & fitness coach for working mums

I’m a working mum, and like all of you out there, I know a thing or two about juggling responsibilities. There’s work (or running a business), children, family, pets, food, shopping, laundry, admin… The list goes on and on. And we all know how stressful it can get.

Then there’s looking after ourselves. ‘Bottom of the pile’ sound familiar? We know we should exercise for our physical and mental wellbeing. But so often this becomes a source of stress and guilt too. I mean, when and how are we supposed to find the time?

For me, the key is to think about movement rather than formal exercise. It’s a subtle difference, but it changes everything and makes it so much more achievable to do daily. And therefore less stressful. So let’s explore how you can fit more movement into your everyday life as a working mum.

Think movement rather than ‘exercise’.

First things first, I’d like us to let go of this idea that as working mums we have to find time to go to the gym, join a class, or do x amount of weekly workouts in our living room. We don’t. We don’t unless we want to. And if we don’t want to, there’s plenty more we can do instead.

So let’s do this right now – let’s move away from this idea of formal exercise and think about movement instead. I give you full permission, from now on, to stop obsessing about having to do a workout every day.


Because as a working mum you already have a lot on your plate. You are juggling enough as it is, and that’s immensely stressful. So the last thing you want is to add another stress factor into your already busy life.


Great. Because all activity and movement is good. And the more little bits of movement we can add throughout the day, the better it is for our overall health. Moving helps us avoid stiffness, back pain, and postural problems amongst other thing. Especially if we sit at a desk for the best part of our days.

Now, I’m not saying that, as mums, there aren’t certain ‘boxes’ we should tick. Maintaining muscle strength and bone density are important factors for us to consider (especially as we head towards the peri-menopause, menopause and beyond). And I’ll soon be sharing my thoughts on how to create a balanced and effective exercise plan that ticks all these boxes without adding stress to your busy life, so watch this space.

But for now, let’s focus on movement…

Working Mums, let’s get planning!

You and I both know what all mums are awesome at: planning. Thinking ahead. Being organised and prepping in advance. Sure, we’re all different, and some of us do this more naturally than others. But the truth is, when you’re a mum, planning comes with the territory! We all know how having the kids’ school clothes, bags, and shoes laid out the night before saves time, avoids the “Mum, I-can’t-find-my-X!” chaos, and makes the morning routine a lot easier! (Okay, we might not always plan so well, but we know it makes a difference when we do.)

When it comes to our children and family or home life (and even work), we plan all the time. We do this every day, whether we’re aware of it or not. So now it’s time to turn that skill to our own benefit. Because when it comes to being consistent with health and fitness (like in other areas of life), planning as a working mum is key.

So let’s try this. At the weekend, make yourself a nice cup of tea, grab your diary, and take 10 minutes to look at the week ahead. This is your chance to identify your windows of opportunity for movement. I recommend you aim to move for 30 minutes every day – if you have longer, that’s great. But if you don’t, 30 minutes is absolutely fine. And the great news is that it doesn’t even have to be all at once. So where are those potential movement windows in your week? Find them and highlight them – plan them in.

Perhaps you’ll find this is a lot easier to do on the days you’re working from home. But even if you’re in the office environment all day a few days a week, don’t fret. You really don’t need to put yourself under pressure to find time for more on those days that already feel packed to the brim with work or other responsibilities. You can break down your 30 minutes of movement into 10-minute chunks. And aren’t 10 minutes a lot easier to find, even when you’re in the office?

Ideas to fit movement into your everyday life for working mums

So what are some of the things you can do to make movement integral to your day?

Ideas for movement when you work from home

On the days that you work from home, can you…

  • Tag some movement onto the back of the school run? If you normally drive to school, can you perhaps walk or jog instead while the children take a scooter? Or maybe only drive part of the way and walk the rest?
  • Head straight to the park after drop-off for a brisk walk, a jog, or a run? It’s even better if you can take some other mums with you for company. That way you benefit from the social aspect too. And you’re more likely to go as you won’t want to let them down.
  • Can you take the dog for a walk?
  • On these days, you might even have time and energy for a workout at home. And if you do and want some inspiration and ideas, you can find a variety of 20 and 30 minute whole-body workout videos on my YouTube channel.

Doing something straight off the back of the school run is smart as it’s tagging a new habit onto one that is already firmly in your schedule, so you are more likely to do it.

It’s also great for another reason – you’re creating some valuable ‘transition time’ for yourself, something which can sometimes be tricky to find when you work from home. It gives you a little time and space to transition from ‘mum mode’ into ‘work mode’. On the days you commute to the office, the commute allows you this space, but when you work from home, you might not have that luxury, so this is one way you can create that time for yourself.

Set yourself up for success

Want a super simple habit-hack that taps into those prepping skills we talked about, and that will set you up for success? Lay your kit out the night before. That way in the morning you don’t waste time, energy and brainpower (scarce in my case before I’ve drunk coffee!) trying to decide what to put on. You have already made the decision and set your intention, so you can just pull on your kit, knowing that you’re ready for action as soon as your pre-identified movement window arrives.

I personally practice this habit every night when I change into my pjs. Getting a sweat on every day is essential for me to reduce overwhelm and to feel happier, but I still resist it and create all manner of mental hurdles for myself. I can tell you honestly that laying my kit out the night before has really worked for me in creating a more consistent movement habit.

Ideas for movement when you’re in the office

On the days you’re in the office, let’s just acknowledge that hybrid working is stressful enough without trying to wedge in some fitness pre- or post-commute. So to keep stress levels under control, you want to plan your movement into your working day rather than as an ‘add-on’ after you finish work. Chances are you’ll be too tired to do it (or pulled in too many other directions), and no one could blame you for not getting it done!

So what can you do instead?

  • Could you go for a lunchtime walk?
  • Perhaps you can grab a colleague you need to speak to and have a walk-and-talk meeting rather than a sit-down one?
  • Can you use part of your commute to or from work to move your body? Maybe by getting off the bus or tube a stop earlier?
  • Can you use the loo on a different floor or take the stairs instead of the lift throughout the day?

Here’s another tactic. Why not talk to your colleagues about wanting to move more during the day? Brainstorm ideas and I’m sure that together you’ll come up with some brilliant ways to move more in the day. You can also become accountability partners for each other and remind and encourage each other to move. I find that sharing my intention with people around me makes it easier to stick to. Plus, if they join in with me, time passes quicker and it’s so much more fun!

It’s not just about how to fit movement into your everyday life working mums though. Hybrid working is stressful enough! So for more information on how to deal with those super busy days, head over to my blog post, How to lower stress while hybrid working.

Ideas for movement on the weekend

At the weekend, why not get the kids involved? Again, don’t be too hung up on what type of activity you are doing. Kicking a ball around in the park, playing French cricket, or jumping in puddles will do wonders for your and your kids’ wellbeing. Plus, you’ll be spending quality time together as a family too. So don’t put yourself under too much pressure!

And if you do get the chance to get some time for yourself to do a workout (perhaps because your partner is also at home for the weekend) grab that opportunity without guilt. If it makes you a better, happier, more relaxed person and a role model for your children, what’s not to like?

In fact, there’s a lot to like about this as according to research conducted by Sport England, while “Six in ten (61%) mums reveal they would feel guilty about taking time to exercise”, it appears that “mothers have a greater influence on their children’s activity levels compared to fathers and seven in ten (69%) mums think it is important for their children to see them exercising”. So embrace it.

Because by making movement visible to your children, you’re not only becoming a role model for them but also encouraging them to move more.

Whatever movement you choose to do, I would always encourage you to do things you enjoy. Making it fun is key, because you’re more likely to stick at it, to turn up regularly and to continue doing it for the long-term. Why make things harder for yourself by forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy? Life’s too short!

Would you like some help to fit more movement into your everyday life as a working mum?

If you’d like to join my upcoming workshop on How to create a stress-free movement plan that fits in your life, email me at hello@biancasainty.com to find out the details. I will help you create a movement plan that’s achievable for you and your fitness levels, and that fits effortlessly into your busy life.

If you’re more that mum who has never really felt comfortable with exercise and are ready to ditch the guilt about not sticking to a regular healthy habit, then my Fit from Within coaching programme could be for you.

Or if you’d simply like to connect online for more ideas and inspiration, you can find me on YouTube and Instagram. I’d be delighted to see you!

Bianca x

Bianca Sainty: health & fitness for busy working mums



And if you think flexible working could also help you fit more movement and exercise into your day, you can find out more about Army of Mums and read our Co-founder’s Story.

The Secrets To A Successful Return To Work After Maternity Leave

The end of maternity leave brings all sorts of emotions. You may feel anxious at the thought of leaving your child all day, excited at the thought of some me-time and chance to have a hot coffee, looking forward to getting back to your career, or even questioning if you want to go back to work at all.

However you feel (and it could be a mixture of all the above), know that it is entirely normal to feel apprehensive about your return to work. You may be wondering how you will:

  • Juggle work and family
  • Manage to be an exemplary employee and a fantastic mum
  • Set boundaries between work and personal life
  • Be able to cope with all that your career and family life throws at you

In this article executive coach Lizzie Martin, who specialises in supporting new parents back to work with confidence and impact, takes you through her top 5 steps to consider when planning your return to work, ensuring you return successfully and with less stress after maternity leave.

Mother and Baby on maternity leave

Step one – Defining success

Get clear on what success means to you. Some people want a role that allows them to work flexibly; others want to lead a project within a specific timeframe. Others may wish to manage their team in a certain way.

Everybody will have their vision of what a successful return looks like. And each vision will be different.

Knowing what success looks like to you is the starting block because then you can plan other steps around it. If you don’t know what you are aiming for, you won’t be in the driving seat. You will find yourself being pulled and pushed in different directions, responding to what other people think you should be doing, rather than being true to yourself.

Step two- Know your skills and strengths

Build confidence in your unique professional value by recognising your skills and your strengths. Many women lose confidence whilst on maternity leave and are worried they won’t have any professional value to add. If this is you, don’t worry. It is entirely normal to feel this way. It is also normal to have mixed feelings around your maternity leave cover and concerns that you have been replaced.

Doing a free online strengths assessment will help remind you what you can do and the value you bring to your organisation.

Now consider all the brilliant skills you have developed since becoming a mum. How can you weave these skills into your job? So, for example, resilience, empathy, crisis management and productivity are skills that you learn and develop at such a fast rate on maternity leave. These are all leadership skills that you can now transfer into your job, becoming a more vital and valuable employee.

Step three – Set your boundaries

It is essential to identify your non-negotiables. You will have identified these when working through step one and your measure for success.

Think about how you will communicate what you need from who, when and where.

A boundary for you may be that you need to leave work at 4:30 pm to be home in time for nursery pick up. You may be nervous about having this conversation with your Manager and put it off. Therefore you may feel more comfortable taking smaller steps to build up to that conversation. So practice having a smaller and safer conversation first.

Another factor to consider is the cost of not having that conversation. You want to have ‘the conversation’ but don’t have the confidence to take your Manager to one side. But as a consequence of not having that conversation, you end up missing bedtime, argue with your partner because you are both tired, and spend 3 hours stressed at home. Is that pain, therefore, better than having that conversation? We sometimes make these conversations seem more significant than they are.

Mum at work after maternity leave

Step four – Networking

This step involves using your keeping in touch days and reconnecting with your old colleagues when you return to work.

You have a golden opportunity when you return to connect with new people and build your internal network. Use this time to invite people for coffee meetings and find out what has been happening in the department during your absence. You also have an excuse to introduce yourself to new people or those recently promoted.

Be strategic about who you choose to network with on your return to boost your visibility.

Step five – develop a plan

Create a manageable timeline on when you can achieve all the above steps. Your plan may include the following:

  • Who am I having my meetings with?
  • Who do I need to set boundaries with?
  • How am I going to set these boundaries?
  • What unique strengths have I identified?
  • How am I going to weave these back into my day job?
  • When will I review my measure of success?
  • What are my longer-term career ambitions?

A final note is to remember to enjoy yourself – having a family and a successful career is possible – returning to work is a time full of change and uncertainty but also growth and opportunity. If you would like to connect with Lizzie you can find her on Instagram as @worklifemother or on her website where you can download a FREE Return To Work Toolkit

And if you think flexible working could help your return from maternity leave, you can find out more about Army of Mums and read our Co-founder’s Story.

Helping parents set up emotional wellbeing for their children for life

DrGauri emotional wellbeing coach at laptop landscape

Emotional intelligence coach and award winning academic, Dr Gauri Seth, explains how Conscious Connection can support parents in developing children’s resilience and emotional wellbeing. And it all begins with their own self-care.

Parents and early care-givers are uniquely placed to provide healthy messages for the emotional wellbeing of our children for the rest of their lives.  This is an enormously empowering and exciting stage of life, and supporting parents with this is my mission.  

By tuning in to conscious connected parenting, there are simple things we can do every day as parents. These can promote family dynamics that support self-esteem and self-worth in children. And these can support their mental wellness for life. 

What is Conscious Connection and why will it help my family’s emotional wellbeing?

Conscious connection is a two-step process where:

1) Parents pause, and consciously connect to their own state of mind.

2) Once they have greater control over their own state of mind, parents can then consciously connect with their child. By doing this in an objective and non-judgemental way, it provides the emotional attunement which they need.

We can bring conscious awareness to those difficult moments which trigger our feelings. Or when our tolerance is slipping, and tensions are rising. These are the magic moments right there, where we can pause. Zoom out. Connect with ourselves as adults. And try really hard to be objective in the moment, on what’s going on and why.  

Flower on water for emotional connection

Self-Care for parents is essential to support emotional wellbeing

Conscious connection requires parents to consider their own wellness and state of mind.  So self-care and wellness for parents is paramount, because parenting is hard and exhausting. And it is harder to connect with our children in an authentic way if we are in a difficult state of mind our self. 

Trying to be a perfect parent does not help

Conscious connection also encourages a realistic view of parenting, rather than striving for perfection.  Often, we are constantly trying to be in control of everything and wanting things to be perfect. But the chances are we are not then consciously connected to our authentic selves as parents. And this is necessary in order to connect with our children. 

Parents connecting with their children in the outdoors

How can I help parents support emotional wellbeing?

Through conscious connected parenting techniques, I provide connection coaching for families. This supports the parent-child connection, for emotional wellness. 

As a parent of three under eight myself, I am also an emotional intelligence coach with a background in medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy. And as an award winning academic, I have pioneered a method which families can apply to their own context, to ensure their children grow up with messages that boost self-esteem, positive self-regard, and self-respect.  

I can also advise parents in modelling the art of seeing things from different perspectives which can help empower their children with an agile mindset. And this is particularly important as the pandemic has created unprecedented pressure on family systems.

One takeaway message from experience is that we don’t know when things might change and when. However, what we can do is to practice and cultivate a flexible and agile mindset. With resilience to problem solve and adapt.

Using scientific insights, I provide Brain-Based Connection® programmes for parents, which:

  • Enhance connection with children
  • Boost resilience and emotional intelligence in children
  • Improve emotional well-being for children and parents 
  • Empower dynamics where family life becomes fertile ground for learning life-long emotional skills

For more information on my work please see www.brainbasedconnection.co.uk.

Or contact me via LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram

You can get advice about juggling work and childcare here. And learn about why we created Army of Mums by reading our Co-founder’s story.

Transferable skills for working mums returning to the workforce.

Jo Lawrence - The Mum Mentor

Career Coach, Jo Lawrence – The Mum Mentor® – offers advice on how to work out your transferable skills. And why they are a key component in a successful return to work after a career break.

What’s the definition of transferable skills?

Transferable skills are those that will stay with you when you move jobs or careers. You have the choice in what they are, as they will give you consistency and control in a changing world.

Why are transferable skills an important consideration when planning your return to work after a career break?

Well, it might be that you don’t want to return to the same sector you were working in before-mum. It could be that you want a different style of working or are possibly thinking about starting your own business.

Essentially uncovering, recognising and articulating your skill set will help you get clear on your career direction, whilst building your confidence in the belief that you will be able to design a flexible career after kids. A flexible career that excites, allows you to grow and that fits around your lifestyle.

A deep dive into your transferable skills will help you pinpoint what I call your ‘Transferable Skills Toolkit’. Identifying and articulating your transferable skills and how they could translate to future career possibilities, and be applied in a new role, will further build your trust in your ability to make realistic and confident decisions about where your career is headed.

Also, being able to evidence your skills in your CV (even if you don’t use them today) helps make it clear to you and to those reading, what you can offer.

How to analyse your transferable skills

When carrying out a skills audit you must break your analysis down into small parts.

Step 1: Take the core transferable skill e.g. Problem-solving.

Step 2: Ask yourself:

  • What are the sub-skills that help me do that really well?
  • With which types of people do I do that really well? (e.g. trainees, colleagues, stakeholders)
  • In which contexts do I do that really well? (e.g. group meeting, individually)

Advice: don’t try to adapt your transferable skills to contexts, jobs, careers that you think may or may not happen.  Focus on what matters to you in the here and now.

This free online personality test is a great place to start, as a first step toward working out who you are and how you like to use your skills.

How to decide on your Transferable Skills Toolkit.

Think: whatever the job or company, what is going to stay with me?

What skills could you take with you into a job where you had no experience or expertise?

Mum skills

As a mum, you have built a new skill set and are likely feeling that you are disconnected from your former career-self. We both know that you haven’t been on a ‘break’; far from it! But now you have the opportunity to showcase your robust and rounded transferable skills set and how you have been continuously developing whilst on extended leave.

So, which transferable skills are at the heart of your ‘mum skills’ toolkit?

Try putting them into categories.

  • Completely new skills:
  • Skills that I executed well before becoming a mum and have robustly consolidated:
  • Skills I needed to develop as a parent:
Mum and 3 children

Applying those skills

So, you’ve worked out your transferable skills, the next step is visualising how you could do a job that you’ve never done before by applying them in a different context.

If you walked into a family member or friend’s job for a day, what 3 skills would you use to try to do the job?

Knowledge and expertise are not what you would be able to rely on. It’s the ‘hows’ that are going to help you apply your transferable skills to any role.

Articulating your transferable skills

Getting your career story straight in your head and on paper will make your job search more efficient, more focused and less frustrating.

Here’s an example of talking about your skills in a cover letter/interview: “One of the talents that I’ve developed is my innovative thinking. Some of the ways I used this in my last role are x,y,z, and some of the ways that I could bring it to this role are x,y,z”

How transferable skills fit into your job search

When researching your career possibilities after a career break, you need to be focused, methodical and able to identify which jobs would allow you to thrive, grow and bring you happiness. When evaluating jobs, careers and sectors, your transferable skills need to be front of mind.

“I recommend devising a system to grade your career possibilities against your skills whilst you are researching. This will help narrow down your options and streamline the decision process”.

If you keep going round in circles

Having an external person helping you identify your transferable skills through an external lens, allows for a fresh perspective from which you can further reflect and make firm, considered decisions and choices.

If you would like some support in working out your transferable skills and how they fit into the puzzle of making a clear and confident return to work, then book a free 30-minute discovery call with me where we can chat about you and your career goals. Take a look at my 1:1 Career Coaching Pick-and-Mix Menu for Mums; designed to help you get clear and confident in your career after kids.

Mum Mentor Logo Transferable Skills Career Support

Or if you think flexible, freelance work could be the way forward for you, read more about how Army of Mums could help.

School Holidays, and 8 Tips for Surviving them for Working Mums

Working mum and daughter on laptop

The school holidays are here …

Family day out on holidays

It’s August (how did that happen?!) and we’re well into the school holidays (after probably one of the strangest school years most of us have ever known). The holidays this year are in many ways a much-needed chance to wind down and recharge after a frenetic year of home-schooling, repeated isolations and exam uncertainty.

Hopefully, this means a few lazy pyjama mornings replacing the school run (or the dash on to Zoom), visiting friends and family (now that we finally can), day trips and cosy afternoon films. Lovely. 

But for working parents, we know that school holidays are not always quite that idyllic; scrimping together annual leave, finding activity camps that barely cover working hours, or leaning on relatives to share the load. And even though many of us are still working from home and able to have a bit more flexibility, the work still needs to get done at some point!

If the remaining weeks are filling you with dread rather than joy, read on for some tips to help you navigate the school holiday juggle.

Here are eight handy tips, based on experience, that might help.

1. Play-dates

More than ever it seems, working Mums are sticking together and looking out for one another which is so heart-warming to see. Ask around and find out if any friends are up for reciprocal playdates and then plan your crucial calls and meetings around those times.

Think outside your immediate close friendship groups. If you have a class WhatsApp group, pop a message on there and see who’s up for it. You might be surprised! (And it’s a good way for younger children to stay connected to their friends after a disrupted year socially).

2. School holiday clubs and camps

Although many have been closed on and off throughout the last year or so, lots are now up and running and back at normal capacity. And with people’s travel plans in constant flux, you might find some have last minute availability so it’s always worth joining waiting lists. Regular after-school clubs and classes often run half-day summer workshops which I find a brilliant way to get a few quiet hours a day while still spending time together.

And I try and break up the structured weeks of clubs and camps with more relaxed family time in between. Try asking for suggestions about what’s going on on your local Mums’ Facebook group, or your trusty class WhatsApp group.

3. Babysitters

If you use local teenage babysitters in the evenings, ask them if they have any free time in the days over the school holidays. More than ever, many would probably love to earn some extra cash in return for a trip to the park or just entertaining them at home. Some older ones might even be happy to commit to the odd full day. Offer to provide a reference as a thank you for their help, and for younger babysitters, it can be helpful to provide some activities and ideas to get them going!

4. Family visits in the school holidays

If you’re mobile (as in work mostly through a laptop and phone) perhaps you could go and stay with family who might not feel so comfortable taking care of little ones on their own. You could then take a few hours to work each day whilst being on hand to help out. Not to mention enjoying some much-needed extended family catch up time in the evenings after so long apart!

5. Structured “at home” days

Kids hugging

If you have children who are old enough to entertain themselves, structure some “at home days” where you block out regular work time. This is the time when they can’t disturb you, and if they know in advance, they can make plans for what activities or games they’re going to play. Involve them in the planning stage and clearly set out the expectations for the day (“we’ll be at home this morning while I do some work, and then we’ll be spending the afternoon together”).

And remember, you’re not a bad parent if they spend the odd wet afternoon watching a movie! The holidays are, after all, their downtime as well. 

6. Planning school holidays with your partner

If you live at home with your spouse or partner, this is really important. Even if you have different levels of work commitments between you, it’s all about teamwork. It might not be the most romantic hour you’ll ever spend together, but a good diary session over a glass of wine might just help see off a last-minute panic mid-way through the holiday.

Flag up in advance any weeks when one of you has a significant deadline. And if you’re both homeworking, try and broadly agree on a daily schedule for who is working when. (Oh, and don’t forget to schedule a date night while you’ve both got your diaries handy!)

7. Involve them in your work

This is very dependent on what work you do, and the age of your children. But involving them in your work could be a great way to keep them entertained, let them see what you do, teach them new skills, and get work done all at the same time. You could even offer a small wage in exchange for helping you out.

8. Plan your time

This is probably the one that is most critical for me. It’s all about knowing how you work best and planning accordingly.

It may sound obvious, but work out what you need to get done over a week and map out the time available to best get it done. We all know which tasks we can stay on top of ‘on the fly’ and which we need dedicated (child-free!) thinking time for.

My ideal day starts with getting up before the rest of the family. Even if I only get 30 minutes or so first thing to have a coffee in peace, clear the decks and sort some admin, it can make a huge difference to how the rest of the day pans out.

What do you think? Are you a working mum and do you have any school holidays survival tips to share?

Keep in touch

School holidays

We’re in pre-launch mode for Army of Mums and would love to hear from brilliant Mums looking for a more flexible life-work balance, and progressive businesses who are looking to support diversity and flexibility in the workforce.

To keep up-to-date with our launch plans visit Army of Mums and sign up. 
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You can also read a welcome from our Co-founder and find out why we started Mums.

And finally, enjoy your holidays!