the struggle is real, right? coupled with the guilt and the endless repeating of “just a minute”…..
Being a mum of 2 lively, active, full-on-all-the-time, boys means that when the school holidays come around I have to have my s**t together if i’m going to attempt to work, and mum! Even whilst typing this I’ve had the following interruptions- ‘Where’s my shoes?’, ‘Mum can you film me trying to perfect this skateboard trick?’, ‘Mum the dog is in the garden, get her out!’, ‘Can I have a snack?’ etc etc. I’m fully qualified in the struggle and the juggle! This leads me on to sharing with you my top 5 tips for running your business during half term!
1- Plan, plan, plan
I’m going to start with an honest disclosure- I’m only just getting to grips with this planning ahead malarkey! It wouldn’t be wrong to say I’m a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ kinda gal! But as my boys have got older, their social calendars have expanded and so I need to make sure I have their ‘taxi’ needs sorted! This has led me to sitting down a week or two before the half term holiday to plan out my time, their social events and merge with my husband’s work from home capabilities! I’m not going to lie, I put our family needs first, then work out what capacity I have to do work for clients. During the summer holidays I take the entire month of August off, as this is the only way I can make my plans for family time, without the juggle stress work. Faye Brown, of Faye Brown designs (find her here- http://www.fayebrown.co.uk) told me how she plans ahead and books her children into holiday clubs, providing her with childcare whilst her children have fun. This half term she has booked her children in on separate days as a way to gain some extra one on one time with each! Great thinking!
2- Accept your limitations-
This can be a tricky one, as if you’re like me you may have a tendency to stretch yourself alittle too thin! If you have planned ahead, blocked out the available slots of time you can work, then hopefully you will have a better idea of what work will fit into those slots without you feeling to stretched. Caroline Reeves, of The Rural Business Hub is planning on getting up a little earlier to give herself some extra time for emails etc. She also explained to me that she is planning a shorter working week ” …cramming clients into 3 days but shorter visits rather than 5 to get 2 fully family focused days rather than bitting and bobbing between the two daily and beating myself up that I might not be doing either of them well!” This I get! That feeling of doing everything but none of it well! But the reality is you are only one person- know your limitations! Saying no is ok! This leads me on to my next tip about setting boundaries and expectations.
3- Set expectations-
At both home and in a work context! As my boys have got older I have found that I can talk to them about the fact I run a business from home. I’ve shared with them why I chose to work in this way, and I’ve also shared with them that it can be a struggle when it comes to school holidays. I’ve set some boundaries around interrupting me during the times I set as ‘work hours’. This might sound like I’m ignoring them, or putting them second, but that’s not what I’m meaning. I’ve simply explained that at certain times I must do my work, as this work enables us to then have the ability to have the fun family times, during which I won’t be working so they have my full attention! I’ve set boundaries! The same boundaries need to be set, or at least expectations clarified to your clients. It will make your life easier if everyone knows where they stand! Emily Roberts, a freelance Journalist and Writer, explained that she will work only in the evenings and at weekends (when her partner is around) in order to ensure she is able to take care of her son during the day. That way her clients know exactly when she is available to them and how much capacity for work she has. Hayley, of Brave & Bold Creative Communications (find her website here) hit the nail on the head when she told me ” I think to get through half term week while juggling childcare, we have to really lower our expectations of what can be physically possible! Cupboards need to be stocked full of snacks (for both parent and children!) and hope for some dry weather so we can throw the kids out in the garden! Our local library is a great resource, often has free activities and you may even be able to take your laptop along while they are busy in a craft activity or two!”
4- Share the load-
Co-working during the half term? Are you crazy I hear you say! But how about taking your smalls along so that they co-play whilst you co-work?? This is something Mother’s Who Make Eastleigh are trying out this half term. Co-founder Sophie Ross explains “its takes a village, right? So the idea is that you will be given a timeslot during which you are on child supervising duty, just for an hour. Then the rest of the day you are free to get on with a task or two without the need to entertain your child! It really is a ‘village’ approach to co-working!” I LOVE this idea! It is a great way to ensure you have time to get some work done, but also that the children have some fun and interact with other kids! If you’re local to Eastleigh definitely pop along! You could try this co-work/co-play idea at your house, a soft play centre, a coffee shop. It’s the way forward! I’m going to try to set some sessions up for the summer holidays, as I know a great cafe, with WIFI on the beach! Mums can work, kiddo’s can play on the beach!
5- Don’t feel guilty about your choices-
I’ve included this as it’s own point as I wanted to highlight the fact that as women we can sometimes be expected to do it all, and do it perfectly! So if you choose to work the entire week whilst your sproglets have a ball at holiday club, so what? If you take the week off, telling clients that school holidays are family time, go for it! You are running your business, I’m guessing, in order to set your own hours, create your own work-life balance, be your own boss, so embrace the decisions you make! Whatever methods you employ to make the juggle of work and children work for you is ok, it needs no justification, no explanation! Just be happy with the choice. The stress comes when we are doing one thing, but feeling we should be doing something else, or focusing on something else.
How do you manage the juggle? I’d love you to share your tips with me and my readers! Will you be trying out any of the above? Let me know how you get on!