Half term and other school holidays can be a difficult time for any working parent, and especially so for those throwing everything into running their own business. Here are some tips to help to make half term as stress free and productive as possible.
Liz Mclaughlin, juicygrape
My top tips for a successful half term are to communicate well and manage expectations, with both your kids and your customers. Let your customers know that your normal working week will be affected due to the presence of little ones. I tend to get up earlier than usual to get some productive work hours under my belt before they rise, then I’m back on it again after bed.
I have found that, with clear communication, my customers are very understanding and what’s more, they appreciate and respect the value of my relationship with my kids. Similarly explaining to my kids that, whilst they are my absolute priority, I will also have to work means they are more tolerant of disruption.
Don’t jump to conclusions
Don’t assume you know what children want to do, discuss it with them. Their requests are often less financially and physically demanding than you might think.
Share the load
If I have meetings, I fit them all into one day and do a “family playdate swap”, so that a friend has all my three for a few hours and later in the week, I do the same for her – we both benefit that way and looking after 5 or 6 is not much different to 3!
During the holidays it’s not always feasible to shut down completely. Preparation is therefore key. Start compiling a list of activities, events or clubs so that you have one activity per day on your calendar. This not only means you can plan working slots around quiet times but it also stops you going crazy from suddenly having a house full!
Split out your time
Decide when your windows of time to work are likely to be. Knowing this means you give yourself a sense of certainty, knowing when you’ll get the work done, as well as permission to switch off when it’s not the time. Otherwise you’ll have half an eye on the computer all the time, trying to squeeze in a bit of work here and there, and get frustrated when it doesn’t quite pull off.
Remember what’s important
So many people view their business as something they do for their kids, when in truth all that their children want is to spend time with their parents. Treat this half term as an opportunity to make time to have a lot of fun with your family. Plan some brilliant kid friendly activities to do at home and days out that they will love. Turn off your phone and stay present with your children. Do this by checking your emails once a day and only when you have an hour to deal with the most important things. That way you won’t be distracted and can give them what they most want: your full attention.
Jacky Tustain, Concord Business Solutions
If you started your business to have a better work life balance, it’s important to remember that when school holidays come up. There is a strong temptation to try to continue working on your business all year round, and family time can slide into the background. Book yourself some down time, make it clear to your clients and prospective clients about your working hours and consider school holiday commitments when building up your workload.