More and more people are choosing to be self-employed, with over 80% of newly self-employed in the UK being women. If they are anything like me, they have chosen this way for the freedom it gives them, to spend time with their families – something I know I would have struggled with if I had stayed in my full-time corporate job. But juggling the summer holidays and running your own business is tough – to be honest, I found it really tough last year. So much so, that I have put better plans in place this year so I can enjoy my time with my children as well as not letting things slip on the business front. Here are just some things to help you this year:
Create a new routine
My routine in the holidays needs to change from what I would usually do. In the holidays, after we have had breakfast I work at the kitchen table for a few hours while my children do their thing. In this time I work like a demon, focused on the task at hand, so that I can stop for lunch. We then all eat together and then spend the afternoon doing something fun. If needs be I will then return to work in the evening, something I rarely do in term time. Everyone is different; you may want to get up extra early to work before they rise, but I am not a morning person in any way! The main thing here is to realise that, when focused, you can produce great work in a short time, especially if you turn off your phone, social media etc.
Think about introducing any time-saving activities n the summer holidays such as scheduling social media updates, getting your children to help with the chores or making phone calls instead of waiting for emails (you get results way quicker this way).
Our customers seem to think we work 24/7 and have an expectation that we will respond immediately to queries so now is the time to manage their expectations. Maybe change your out of office to explain that you are working fewer hours or if this feels wrong to you (it is not!) then simply answer all emails once your kids are in bed. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be on call, but now is the time to remember that pressure is created by ourselves so it’s therefore up to us to change this.
Stop feeling guilty
Feeling guilt is part of being a parent but it needs to stop. Last year I felt guilty the whole time and I have promised myself to not feel like this, this year. Nothing will happen if I don’t answer that tweet, write that blog post, or update my website, so ultimately I need to chill about it all. And enjoy my summer with my kids (which I why I am doing this after all).
Arrange some childcare
I have created a summer holiday planner which I shared recently to help me plan my children’s whereabouts for the summer. YOU CAN DOWNLOAD IT HERE. I have identified two days every week where I am putting my children into the local tennis club. They are also going to my parents house for a week plus going on holiday with us. This clearly highlights to me when I can and cannot work – I have 12 days from 9-6 where I can run my business which is great.
Think about other ways to entertain them if you really need to work – there is nothing wrong with occasionally taking your laptop out with you to a soft play area as long as you don’t get too absorbed. However, my thoughts are that I want to spend quality time with them when we are together, and work when they are not around. My kids love the free one hour crèche in Ikea designed so I can go shopping (or sit in the cafe and catch up!).
Club together with other parents
Not everyone has the support of grandparents or a local great priced summer camp, so club together with other mums who are in the same situation. Why don’t you have their kids for a day in return for them having yours? Not only will you get some breathing space, but your children will have so much fun with their friends.
Depending on your line of business, you may want to consider outsourcing some of the work. There are some great VA’s out there who charge by the hour and are more than capable of answering your emails, chasing invoices and even sharing your work on social media. Take the time before the end of term to get them up to speed, set them realistic tasks and enjoy your time away from the office.
Be gentle with yourself
This is the biggie for me, as not only do I feel guilty but I also beat myself up about it. Be kind to yourself, and tell yourself that you are doing a fab job. You are a great mum, you are a kick ass entrepreneur and it is only 6 weeks! Make sure you take some time for you too!
photo by Sharon Cooper
Remember why you are doing this
Finally, keep reminding yourself why you are doing this. Being self-employed means you can pick them up from school to hear about their day, go to their assemblies and sports day as well as spending quality time with them all year round. This lifestyle gives you the freedom to have these precious moments so take them this summer. Go have fun as those emails can wait!
Have a great summer!