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The Summer Juggle

My name is Angela Neale and it’s been 48 days since my last full day of work…

It’s not that I have decided after 23 years of fastidious conveying, to slack off, but the summer holidays are in full swing, and as a single mother to a 5 year old boy and the Head of a busy conveyancing department, the struggle, sorry I mean juggle, is real.

For those who don’t have much to do with children, this is a joyous time when your hitherto fully occupied child is thrust back into your care for between 6 to 10 weeks, while you try to keep your job and hope that no one notices that they get more emails from you at 11pm than am. You get extra  adrenalin points if, like me, you have no living parents who can pitch in.

There are several struggles both mental and physical caused by the fact that you now have to be both a full time mother and also a full time worker and there is annoyingly only one of you. You also want to do a good job and it’s a lot less stressful to be up to date than woefully behind. At the same time, you want to be one of those Instagram mothers who spends a lot of time #makingmemories, and hoping that your child will fondly recall their childhood, spending time laughing and having wholesome adventures in the sun with mum, not being stuck in front of paw patrol or languishing in a camp with a bunch of strangers who don’t want to be there either.

So, here are my ten top tips:

  1. This one takes a bit of long term preparation: Spend a few years working very efficiently and profitably with the same firm so that you have a big ole bag of work goodwill built up to rely on. There is a huge difference between firms, but I am lucky to be part of a parent friendly firm which recognizes the need for flexibility and who have invested in the IT needed to make us as efficient as possible. Speak to your firm in advance to discuss the issues and find a way to make it work. If you are at the right firm, you will find a solution and if you can’t, there are many firms out there who will accommodate flexibility.
  2. Make sure you have an excellent team around you and you will just have to rely on them a bit more over the summer. If you discuss it between you, you can find ways to “pay them back”. Luckily my excellent paralegal Leon is about to become a parent and so in return for increasing his workload over the summer, I have given him more paternal leave in the Autumn. When we both have children, we will have to work together to make sure one of is around for the exchanges.
  3. Lower your expectations of … everything. Create meals that just about cut it, but only take a little while to prepare. My son has beans on toast for dinner once a week at the moment. Get used to the mess – the house looks like there may have been a burglary. The dog won’t die if it isn’t walked anywhere other than the same local walk for the next few weeks. So what if you have to get your clothes from a big pile in the morning instead of crease free from a hanger.
  4. Get a cleaner.
  5. Don’t listen to anyone talking about good tv for now as you will be spending a few evenings a week working and you can always catch up later in the year.
  6. Try not to feel hard done by working evenings: light your work space nicely, listen to your favourite chill out music while working and get the hot chocolate and biscuits at the ready.
  7. Don’t feed bad about your child watching TV. They do a lot in term time so it’s good for them to relax. Also if you put the subtitles on, they are learning to read right? I have created the mindset that the sound of Mr Tumble in the neighbouring room is no different to working in an open plan office before home working.
  8. Keep an eye on your work emails and let people know when you will come back to them with a proper reply to their query. Clients instantly feel better if they hear from you and know when they will get a reply.
  9. Don’t forget that many people are in or have been in the same boat and understand.
  10. And finally – Respect what you are achieving and feel proud of yourself.
About the Author
Angela Neale, Partner, Head of Residential Property

Specialises in: Residential Property

If you require any further information regarding property conveyancing, or any other matter related to Residential Property purchases and sales, please contact Angela Neale in the Residential Property department at Comptons Solicitors LLP. ( / 020 7482 9506).