For some of us, the long summer holidays means lazy days in the sun, enjoying adventures with the children, visiting friends and going abroad for weeks to make the most of the summer break.
But for many of us, myself included, reality is somewhat different. Juggling client meetings, marketing plans, sales calls, summer club drop offs, keeping kids occupied, scheduling endless play dates and sleep-overs, and cramming in all that work you meant to finish weeks ago before you leave on holiday. I feel frazzled even writing about this!
But, I say calmly, after working through too many frazzled summers myself, it doesn’t have to be like this!
Business doesn’t stop just because the mercury rises and the schools shut. Our need for a secure income flow doesn’t dissipate either!
Over the years, I have tried many solutions. Full time nannies – great but expensive. Live in au pairs, also great, more cost-effective but often need more shepherding. Holiday camps, can be wonderful but you chew through the cash. Of course, there are always grand parents and relatives, but being a foreigner in the UK, meant my family was half a world away.
Eventually, I decided to treat the school holidays as my project! Like any project I approach, there is always a system I step through. I’ll share mine with you, so you can use it to ensure you make the holiday season work for you!
Step 1: Decide what YOU WANT
Sounds obvious I know, but more often that not, we put ourselves last when we organize our family life. Take some time to think about the holiday period. Whether it is 6 or 12 weeks, cast your mind over that time and consider the following:
- How much holiday time do you want – a week, two weeks or maybe you take a month off
- Decide if you take that time in a block, or decide to work shorter weeks, or shorter days, or a combination of all
Step 2: What does your BUSINESS NEED?
If you have clients that you have promised work to, schedule in the planning and delivery days. Or if you are selling a product, when do you need to be in the business to facilitate smooth operations and deliveries? Schedule this in.
Step 3: What would you like to do with your business over this time?
For many of us, our businesses quieten over the summer. We can use that time to plan, create, write content and get ahead for the Autumn. Take some time to ponder if you want to do anything like this, and then consider how much time you will need and then schedule it in.
Step 4: Bring it together
Now bring together the three steps, and line it up on your schedule. How much time do you want to be on holiday, and how much does your business need you? Reflecting on the time scheduled, how does that feel to you? Will it make you feel that you are doing the right thing, servicing the needs of your business and your family in the way that’s right to you?
Step 5: Make it Happen!
Now you have designed how YOU want the time to be spent over the summer holidays, share this with the family.
Once you have a clear idea of when you need to find child care or activities for the children, you will find it much easier to fill the spaces. And how you do that, is up to you!
Once you have your ideal school holiday project mapped out for you, your business and your family, you need to make it work.
Here are my favourite techniques I use to make working from home a success in the school holidays.
1. Clearly communicate your working routine to your family, and ask them to help you with it. Once you have your routine, stick to it. Everyone in the house will start to get used to it, and find their own rhythm around it.
2. If you have young children who may be at home when you are working, make sure they have an activity to keep them amused for a decent stretch of time. You still need that time to think!
3. Consider doing child minding swaps with other working mums in your neighborhood. This is a cost-effective way to ‘buy’ a morning or two of free time.
4. The early morning is your friend! If you can, set your alarm click for 6.00 and use that quiet time before the house stirs to get some work done.
5. If you need to make calls that require a business-like silence in the background, tie a scarf to the door handle. Tell your children that they can not come in to the room when the scarf is on the door. If this is doomed for failure in your house, you can always do what a friend of mind did, and make calls from the car parked outside the house!
6. Make sure you schedule some down time to spend with the children. Planning some activities you will all love, putting them in your diary will help you feel less torn between work and family over this time.
With a little forethought, planning and communication of your desires, the long school holidays can be an enjoyable time for all. You can enjoy the time with the kids and still get that essential work done. I wish you all the best – do let me know how you get on, and send some holiday snaps!