When we’re into to the swing of the school holidays, that means up to six weeks with no school run – but also no school which can mean no childcare! The school summer holidays have always been a project management challenge for me, but now that I’ve moved from employment to running a business the challenge is even more interesting!
On the one hand, I have the flexibility to work when and where I want; on the other, I’m torn between spending time with my children and spending time on my business…
Even though personally I have chosen self-employment to be able to spend more time with my family, I don’t feel I can drop everything in my business and then pick it up again in September, so a little compromise is necessary…
Here are my top 3 tips for survival:
Tip 1 – Focus on one thing at a time
We’re not wired to multitask, however tempting it may be! So, how can you carve out time where you focus on the family and other time to focus on the business? If your business is flexible enough, can you schedule quality time to be present with your children, e.g. in the middle of the day, and chunks of time first thing in the morning, early or late evening for focussing on your business? If your children need more attention or need to be occupied, are there holiday clubs you could make use of (even if just for some of the time)? I find I can get away with a focused hour or two after dropping my daughter off at summer school while my eldest has a lie-in and then chills on the sofa before he comes looking for some company. Then we can enjoy a nice lunch together or get outside and find Pokemon or whatever takes his fancy. Another week, I’ll focus on my business knowing both children are having a whale of a time with their grandparents.
Tip 2 – Plan ahead for time away
Can you schedule social media posts, clear the most urgent things from your to-do list before going away so that you can relax and enjoy a proper break and come back refreshed – without driving yourself insane with an impossible mountain of work to be done before leaving for your holiday?! If I can, I plan to tidy my desk/workspace before leaving so it’s a calm place I’ll enjoy coming back to. I’ll also schedule in the things I can’t get done but need to do when I return so that I don’t need to keep remembering stuff – I want to get them out of my head and onto my calendar. (I tend to use my calendar rather than a to-do list – if something needs to be done, I make an appointment with myself to ‘write blog post’ or ‘reconcile August bank statement’ etc.)
Tip 3 – Lastly and most importantly, go easy on yourself!
As a mum it’s very easy to feel guilty if you’re not giving your family your full attention; as a business owner, it’s very easy to feel guilty if you’re not giving your business your full attention. If, like me, you feel you need to keep tabs on your business emails/social media etc while on holiday, schedule a small amount of time at regular intervals to do that – and find somewhere pleasant with decent wifi. A focused half hour with a good connection is a lot more satisfying (for me and everyone else around me!) than several frustrating hours spent watching the ‘circle of death’ on my phone or iPad. Once done, I aim to put it to one side for the day (remembering tip number 1).
As all-consuming as it may seem right now, it’s not forever. Before long my children won’t need me or won’t want to spend time with me during the holidays, just like they don’t need me to carry them plus a change bag anymore. This too will pass and I don’t want to miss the opportunity of being with them while I can. What do you do? What are your tips for surviving the school holidays?
Sian Rowsell is an effective coach and facilitator, helping people enjoy a more fulfilling life in and outside of work. She offers individual coaching on a one-to-one basis and runs confidential business development groups for women business owners. For more information visit her website.Sian Rowsell, Sian Rowsell Coaching & Training