There’s a part of me that really looks forward to the school holidays, especially in the summer. My eldest son is still quite little so is usually exhausted by the end of term. During term time I’m constantly rushing them out of the house or shouting because their shoes have mysteriously vanished. During the school holidays we can do pretty much what we like.
Of course, it’s never quite that simple. We all need to make a living and every business needs a bit of attention over the summer months. How do we balance family and work so that the school holidays don’t spell disaster?
Plan for time off
Even if you can afford to have your kids in child care for the whole of the school holidays, do you really want to? Running your own business can give you the flexibility to be around for your children during term time, but they might still want to see more of you. For me, the hours between the school pick up and bedtime are sometimes quality time, sometimes not. Towards the end of term my son is often so shattered that he just wants to have a snack and stare at the TV. School holidays find us both with more energy to go out and have fun.
If you think you can’t take time off, read my last blog for lots of useful hints on how you can.
Get more done during term time
There are bound to be parts of your work that can only react to customer demand. But what about everything else? For example, you can plan your marketing strategy in advance and get the work done during term time. What else could you do?
Forward planning also allows you to identify tasks that you can delegate. A designer can be working on your artwork when you’re having a family day at the park. When I write blogs for regular clients I’ll often have a few months’ worth of posts planned out. I can plan ahead and deliver the work by the due date, even if that falls during the school holidays. If you’d like to know more about working with a writer like me, download my free guide here.
Plan your child care
Forgive me if this one’s a bit of a no brainer. I think it warrants a mention because some parents will try and work at home when the kids are there. Sometimes this will work. For me, it usually doesn’t. Even putting a film on for my children doesn’t guarantee uninterrupted time. Given that my desk is in the corner of the living room, even the sound of the TV can be a distraction. Older children, you can probably be relied upon to entertain themselves for a while.
Whatever your circumstances, be realistic about what you can get done with children at home, and what needs outside help. No matter how old they are, it’s unlikely you’ll want them hanging around the house for the entire school holidays anyway. If your budget doesn’t extend to paid summer camps you could enlist family members or arrange mutual play dates with your children’s friends.
When you’ve delegated as much as you can, put tasks in order of priority. Then you can work out what needs to happen when and what time you have available.
Most of all, talk to your clients. No reasonable person is going to judge you for taking a holiday. Even if you aren’t going away but you’ve committed to taking a few days off during the school holidays, tell people you’re not available. Your work needs your full focus and that’s not going to happen if you feel that you’re short changing your family.
Have you made a plan for the school holidays? If not, now’s the time. Plan your tasks and get the help you need. If you’d like to share your plans, leave a comment below!