How to balance family life if your small business can’t stop for Christmas

Balance family life work ChristmasAre you looking forward to a few days off at Christmas?  If you’re running a small business you might feel as if you can’t stop at all.  I’m not going to tell you about the benefits of taking a break – that’s for another time.

If you know that there are things that need to be done over Christmas to keep your business going, that’s fine.  However, if you want to make it through with your family still speaking to you, read on.

Plan your time

If you want to balance family life with work, you need to plan ahead.  If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I’m a big fan of timetabling.  Especially if it involves buying lots of lovely stationery.  I confess, if there were such a thing as Stationery Addicts Anonymous, I’d be a paid up member.

At Christmas, if you need to work, you need to plan.  Work out exactly what needs to be done and how long it will take.  If it’s a few hours’ work you can probably fit it into a couple of afternoons or a single day.  This kind of planning means that you’re focused and can get the job done.  Otherwise you might find yourself aimlessly drifting about, picking up the odd task here and there.  You won’t feel satisfied that you’ve done a good days’ work and it will annoy your family.

Balance family life with the office

Before you start talking to your family, you need clarity for yourself.  Are these tasks essential?  Why do they need to happen now?  If you have a team, hopefully you’ll already have a plan in place so everyone can take some holiday.

When I was a solicitor our office sometimes used to open between Christmas and New Year.  If the Courts were open there was always the chance that something urgent would come in.  Given that it was never particularly busy we’d just need to have one team member there each day.

If you’re the boss asking your employees to work over Christmas, it’s only fair to muck in yourself.

Talk to your family

Once you have a plan, you can start talking to your family.  If you need to balance family life with work that might mean the extended family too.  Are any of your relatives travelling to see you?  If you want to see them you’re going to need to be available.  Of course, if you really don’t want to see them you have the perfect excuse!

You might need to take your partner’s work into account, or when you can get child care.

If you think this is all about practicality, it’s not.  Everyone gets frazzled at Christmas.  You might feel as if you’re the one organising everything, but that doesn’t mean your family aren’t stressed too.  There’s a big difference between knowing your partner will be off work to take care of the kids and assuming that they will.  I’m not saying that you have to be a doormat.  Just acknowledge the fact that everyone needs a bit of time to themselves.

Take time to talk.  Show them your plan and explain the situation if you need to.  Then you can move on to planning fun things to do with the time off you have together.

Hopefully this will help you to have a happy and peaceful Christmas.  If you have any tips for harmonious family life at Christmas, please share in the comments below!

Further reading

If you need to find the balance between work and life all year round, the Balance Collective can help:

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