School holidays are nearly upon us again.
And, if you are like me, you probably view them with mixed feelings.
There is a more relaxed feel, without the morning rush to get ready and out the door to school on time.
But you no longer experience the lull while all is quiet in the house during school hours, followed by the flurry of activity and mess that arrives home at afternoon tea time at the end of the school day.
However, homework can be suspended for a while and even after school activities often take a break. So you don’t have to worry about the rushing from place to place, the minute by minute schedules that need to be adhered to in order to cater for every child’s sports training, swimming, footy, dancing, the list goes on and on.
But there are also other things to consider. Especially for a mum who runs her own business from home. Because unfortunately, school holidays don’t apply to grown-ups out in the big wide world!
Life goes on as normal for us. Except that we now need to organise childcare, entertainment for the kids, and particularly some free time and space away from them to get work done.
So what is the best way to deal with the holidays?
I think that the first thing to do is to assess where you are in your business, and see whether you have any flexibility to take some time off to spend with the kids.
If you can do this, maybe you won’t be as productive as you usually are, but you will reap the benefits of spending time with your children.
Enjoying their company, doing fun things together, and just being able to spend at least a little time with them in holiday mode. Maybe you can move a few deadlines, or even work a little harder leading up to the break in order to have a little time off when they finish up for the term.
If this is possible, then definitely do it. You deserve a break just as much as they do!
But, if this is not feasible and you have clients and jobs coming out of your ears, then you will just have to deal with the holidays in a different way. And, unfortunately, this is the reality for most of us working in our own businesses.
So, here are a few tips to relieve the stress, and keep the holiday break fun for mums and children without your business grinding to a screeching halt.
1) Create a schedule
If you can write a plan which caters for a mix of concentrated work times interspersed with fun activities with the kids, you have a much better chance of them being co-operative and allowing you to work relatively uninterrupted for certain blocks of time.
Just be sure to schedule important things like phone calls, client appointments etc. into these times. The less important tasks can be dealt with in a more flexible time frame, perhaps even after the children have gone to bed. By doing this for the few weeks that school is off, you can really schedule the essential tasks that must be completed in that time and you can spread them out accordingly and be sure they are done.
Remember the mantra: What gets scheduled gets done.
2) Be relaxed about things that are not important
If you have a few children running around the house while you are working, you can’t expect the house to remain spotless. So, cut them, and yourself a bit of slack, and let your cleaning standards slide a bit, so you are not constantly picking up after them and getting into arguments that leave both mum and child fuming and stressed.
Instead, save the perfection for the times that you are having visitors and have a deadline.
Hopefully you then have a better chance of getting some cooperation from the children when you have a specific goal and reason for them to pick up their toys and clear the kitchen bench.
3) Swap babysitting
If you are friendly with some of the other school mums, swapping babysitting duties, or implementing play-dates is a great way of getting some child-free time over the holidays. Of course you will have to do your part as well.
But, if you sacrifice an afternoon of work and invite over a house full of kids, you can then be rewarded by several other sessions of child-free afternoons when the duties pass on to one or two of the other mums.
4) Use child care or school holiday programs
This can be a fantastic option if you have a big project on, or there are some work duties you simply cannot avoid.
Many local councils and YMCA’s provide this, and often also have some really exciting excursions for the kids to participate in too.
Of course there is a cost involved, but it can truly be worth it to have that break to be productive.
Grandparents are also an option if you have a tight budget!
5) Slow down
Don’t think that you have to work at the intense pace you work at during other times of the year.
By simply accepting that things will not be the same in the holidays, you can give yourself permission to finish early one day, or take a few hours off.
You then may find that if this is not conducive to your business’s productivity, then simply work at times when your husband or partner can take over for you, or maybe in the evening, if you have done some fun activities during the day.
BUT, I would definitely urge all of you Mumpreneurs not to completely shut down your business over the holidays, because it will take you quite a few weeks to build up your momentum and productivity again after a break.
And if you factor in how many holidays there are during the year, if it takes you a few weeks after each of them to get back to your previous level of dedication and productivity, that could easily add up to several months worth of down time during the year.
So, definitely change things a bit, be flexible and enjoy your children.
Be prepared that holidays and school time need to be treated quite differently, and hopefully you can all have some family fun during your break without your business going bankrupt or you losing your sanity!
What are you planning on doing with your kids while you run your business from home? Share your ideas in the comments below.