Yip it’s that time again, the New Zealand School Term 3 is nearly over. We are given the little munchkins back for 14 days straight. Time for extra coffee & buying the activities section of Kmart.
If you’re like me, a big part of the reason you went into business for yourself was to be able to be there for your kids and enjoy this one-on-one block of time together. The reality of being in business for yourself isn’t as straightforward.
(A) You probably love what you do.
(B) Businesses are a fluid entity and it’s very hard to just switch off.
So I’ve asked around and put together these top 5 tips for preparing to manage the break with as few tears/headaches as possible. Lets takeaway the guilt and be present when we can with realistic expectations about what can be done.
1# Schedule Your Work around Holidays
Plan for the upset in your schedule. I know it’s probably a little late now to throw off those big projects or reschedule the ones you have on. You’re probably working your little tail off trying to get ahead, but remember you are in charge of your business. Take a few hours to sort a Mailchimp blast explaining your reduced hours during this time and that you’ll be in the office for a limited period each day for email consultations. Set yourself realistic expectations for each day. You’ll probably be exhausted by the end of each day so catching up then on work might be a stretch.
2# Call On Friends & Family
Don’t be afraid to ask friends and grandparents for help. See if you can schedule in a few days with each grandparent and get as much as you can done on these days. If you have a friend who is also a business owner maybe offer to take a day each with all the kids so you can both get a chance to work on the alternate day - 2 kids is the same as four right ? ha ha.
3# Balance The Day With Fun & Work
Schedule activities in for the day that are busy to get active and engage with the kids, then have quieter activities set up for the afternoons such as Lego and craft. Children have short attention spans so be realistic about how much solid time you will have while they’re doing these things. Try to ration out the activities with something new they haven’t seen every half hour you can get through emails etc at least. I love the craft section of Kmart personally for some neat cost effective activities the kids get absorbed in. Another idea is to see if there’s anything you can do for your business with your kids, if you’re in retail maybe they could help make samples, or if you’re a photographer they could help source props. Try and find things they can get involved with you in doing as they just want that quality attention no matter what it is you’re actually doing.
4# Fill The Kids In
Don’t forget to fill the kids in on your expectations for he holidays. Some may call this ‘bribery’ I call it negotiation. So for example we brainstorm all the activities that are super fun we’re going to do we circle the free ones, and we put a square around the ones that cost money. Then I explain that to do the ones that cost money the kids have to have some play-time without me, so that I can work to get the money to do them. Independent play is also great for kids and they are even more inclined given an incentive.
5# Share The Load
Make a plan with your partner (if you have one, solo-Mums/Dads call on those friends!). If you are like my hubby and me, both managing your own businesses, communication is going to be key here. From experience make sure you find a spot of time to sit down away from distraction and plan out how it’s going to go. The equation is simple holidays + Plan = less drama. A few weeks ago I was super busy and my hubby had a quiet spot in his work schedule. I actually didn’t realise how much I had to explain, like you have to pick everything up off the floor for the cleaner and put toys away so she can clean ( I had thought this was obvious), you have to get meat out for dinner, you need to put washing on every second day straight after breakfast. All those things us Mum’s do without fail everyday whether we have been up all night with a spewing kid or we have a raging headache. We don’t quit. But when we need to tap out and have someone takeover, we need to provide lists and schedules.
On a final note, don’t feel too guilty about what you can and can’t do. You’re not alone and we’re all trying to make it work on our own terms in this new digital age. Your kids will appreciate you being present when you can. The holidays is downtime for you as well though. Just like being a parent, running a business is a 24/7 job when you’re not working you’re often thinking about working, so do yourself a favour and try to take it easy, only you can tell yourself to stop. You’ll thank yourself in years to come.
Thanks to the wonderful women in the WE Network support group on Facebook for your wonderful input sharing your experiences so that I could create this article. If you're a Mum in business check out your local support groups of other Mums in business, or start you're own. In the words of Bill Nye "Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't"
All the best, you've got this.
Zoe Sizemore is a Mum of two based in Papamoa, Tauranga. She runs Case In Point Design Studio from home managing a wide range of clients both locally and internationally. She specialises in managing businesses branding needs with a wide range of knowledge in the graphic design industry ranging from branding and logo design, website design and development, to social media marketing and illustration. Get in touch today if you would like to find out more about how she can transform your business brand.