Any self employed person will know how hard it is to work through the holidays, especially as a parent. Working from home in any form of self employment means working around the children over the summer, juggling family time with childcare and trying to find a balance that works for the whole family.
Over the holidays Dave will be off when his annual leave will allow – usually about 40% of the time. On the other hand, I’m always at home and make sure that through the holidays I don’t have any work commitments that take me away from the children unless I have alternative childcare arrangements in place.
As a rule we don’t use childcare in the holidays but Dave’s parents will have the children for a day or overnight if we need them to and we have used a holiday camp in the past as well – which the children loved and was a great way for me to get back on top of work too.
I have been told at times to just switch off over the holidays. To just not work and put an out of office on my emails, going back to it all when the children are back at school. In theory this sounds amazing – six long weeks without even looking at my laptop and spending twelve hours a day having fun with the children. But, if I don’t at least keep on top of emails during holidays I will come back to no work. I need to at least invoice for some work each month and agree work to complete and invoice the following month otherwise we’ll be in a financial pickle every time the children are off school.
So I thought it would be worth writing down how I’ll be aiming to get some sort of work life balance through the holidays whilst still getting paid and still having work to come back to in September.
Put family time first and work second
During the holidays I say yes to everything where the children are concerned. We go on holiday, we go on days out, we see friends and family. I then fit work into any time that is left over – mainly in the evenings.
Work when you can
As well as the evenings I will grab moments of work time when I can and I have to be quite resourceful with this. If we have a day at home the children will watch a movie in the afternoon – so I’ll do an hour of work. If we’re on a long journey and I’m not driving I’ll be checking emails or writing blog posts in the car. I’ll usually write what I can on aeroplanes too – any time when the children don’t need my attention focused on them I’ll grab a moment to work.
Over the holidays I have blog work that I need to do. I have two weekly linkies that I run that don’t stop for the holidays. Other than that my only priority is checking emails – and then agreeing work to be done when I have the time or simple things that I know I can do around the children. Anything else is not a priority and can wait until the children are back at school.
I do as much work as I can whilst the children are still at school before the holidays start. I will schedule blog posts and a few social posts for during the holidays to relieve some of the pressure of having to post and I’ll then fill the gaps with ad hoc content based around days out or holidays as and when we have them.
Lists really help my work life balance in the holidays. I’ll have a list of work I need to do and a list of work that I need to do at a later date. I’ll have a list of life admin I need to organise, things I need to sort out for days trips or holidays and a constant shopping list of food or travel supplies that we need to pick up. Lists make summer holiday organisation so much easier especially when you’re self employed.
If all else fails, soft play is a blogger’s best friend. I find taking the kids to soft play for half a day and using their free wifi lets me work whilst I know the children are having the best time in a safe and secure environment. They’re happy and I get to catch up too.
I always overcommit where life is concerned – we have about three spare days in the whole of the summer holidays. But, I don’t overcommit where work is concerned. I know that over the holidays I won’t have time to film talk to camera brand videos or do many product photos. But, I know we can have a short press trip or a review day out and the workload from that will be manageable. Over time I’ve learnt my limits and now I never take on too much work in the holidays and I push timeframes back when I can whilst in the negotiation stages.
My main focus over the holidays now is to relax. To take a step back, enjoy the children being off school and to know that everything will be fine. Work will be done, the kids will be happy and we’ll have a great six weeks of summer.
But, this is my third summer as a self employed parent working from home. I have had two summers already to get used to working around the children and it really does get easier. My main tip to anyone in the same position? Don’t feel bad if you sit and work whilst the kids watch a movie or you take them to soft play just to get work done. The kids are having a great time and that is all that matters to them. Plus, you juggling work means that you can be right there with them. Give yourself a break – and have a great summer.
If you have any tips on how to juggle life as a work at home parent in the holidays I would love to hear them!