As I write this post, my toddler is napping and this afternoon involves a playdate — it’s officially the summer holidays and my childcare plans can best be described as… ‘patchy’. To add extra layers of fun and excitement to an already chaotic existence, I’m also 30 weeks pregnant, relaunching an online store and run postnatal courses and events across London. When you’re self-employed or run your own business like me, the work/life juggle struggle is real, especially when the school holidays come around.
Here’s how I plan to try and make it work, hopefully some of this might help you too:
I don’t think there’s much point trying to stick to your ‘normal’ routine as, when your children are in tow, it’s just not going to happen. Think about any child-free windows you do have — evenings / weekends / nap times — and plan these chunks of time accordingly. If you shift your expectations and accept that work will get done in those times, it’s easier to enjoy the time with your kids during the day.
Plan like a boss
Day-to-day I know that I waste a lot of time on social media *cough* so planning posts on a Sunday night ahead of the week can be an absolute lifesaver. Even if it’s just vague ideas of some things that you want to post about, you’ll find that you seriously cut down on time wasted on The Gram. And you don’t need to write endless to-do lists. Write a MUST DO list for the next day (that’s actually achievable!) and utilise a Power Hour…
If you can, grab an hour and get through your MUST DO list. The endless ‘other stuff’ can wait. If you give yourself a massive to-do list, you’ll end up feeling overwhelmed, decide to do the easiest job available, and never actually get any of the stuff done, that you need to get done. If your list is shorter, more focused and more realistic, you’ll also waste less time deciding what job to do first.
Get help where you can
Ad hoc childcare can be trickier to sort but it does exist and doesn’t have to be hideously expensive either. For instance, we’ve arranged some childcare this summer in the form of a lovely university student who needs a job on her summer break, doesn’t mind flexible hours and doesn’t cost the earth. I found her through a local Facebook group.
Whether it’s at work or at home, just because you normally do a certain job doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it. Get your partner, friends and family involved in your new ‘summer schedule’ so you can best utilise your time and don’t be afraid to sub-contract. From a cleaner, to a virtual assistant, help is out there if you need it.
It’s all well and good working flexibly, but the reality is, we all have deadlines and calls that have to be made during work hours. iPads, cBeebies, ice cream, new toys — don’t be afraid to do whatever you need to do… we won’t judge you.
Facebook groups like DIFTK are full of similar people sharing life hacks, efficiency apps and services — asking questions in groups like these really is one place to put your social media time as it may actually make your life easier in the long run!
If you’re going on holiday why not see if one of your fellow freelancers or business friends are too? You can always arrange a mutual swap where you look after each other’s social media for instance. It’s one less thing to worry about.
Set an ‘out of office’
Setting expectations is key. People often expect instant responses thanks to email but a simple out of office can rectify that. You just need to explain that you’re working part-time / doing ‘summer hours’ / whatever you want to call it and that it may take you a little longer to reply. People will appreciate that.
Trying to keep your business ticking over while the kids are around is hard. Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t manage to get loads of stuff done / forget to eat / serve your children yet more beige food — you’re running your business AND keeping the family semi-sane. If anything, you deserve a medal.
One of the biggest bonuses of being self-employed over the summer is that you may actually get to enjoy some sun. So, work from the garden, the park, the pub — take some time out with the kids and have a great summer.
Photograph by Francesca Tortora.