“Summer time, and the living in easy….” Well maybe for some, but summer holidays for mumpreneurs are often a complicated mix of childcare arrangements, snatched hours at the computer, all washed down with a massive amount of guilt.
Why guilt you may ask? Well, I’m assuming many of you, decided to set up your own business to give you quality time with your children, and make your career work around your children – not the other way around. The question on my mind, (as I type this at 07:00 in the morning with my two children playing around me), is how do I make the most out of my six weeks of quality time with the children, but have a business at the end of the holiday?
Before, I add a couple of ideas about how to practically manage the holiday time, it is worth dispelling a few myths and self limiting beliefs that we mumpreneurs can subscribe to:
1. Our business will still be there for us at the end of the holidays – our clients and customers also will be taking time out over the next six weeks
2. Only you can dictate the pace of your business – taking the foot off the accelerator pedal for six weeks, may actually give you the recharge time you need to get the business really firing on all four cylinders in the autumn.
3. Our children may actually enjoy the variety that play schemes, play dates and the odd DVD on a wet summer’s day can bring, rather than resenting our need to do some work.
4. If we were properly ‘employed’ we would only be getting 2 weeks off over summer – so spending a few days a week on the business, is no big deal.
5. The world will not end if you have an untidy house or buy a couple of ready-meals…
Anyway, here is how I plan to get through the next six weeks, ‘guilt-free’ (well, who I am kidding?), and with a business in one piece at the end of it!
1. Take a look at your to-do list and identify anything that is non-essential or can wait a few weeks.
Re-timetable these for the beginning of September. For example, all my projects are on hold for the next 6 weeks. About two months ago, myself and my village elder on the Bedford executive village agreed we wouldn’t hold an executive village in August as we both wanted to enjoy the summer, rather than be spending time in August sorting out stuff for the executive village.
2. Focus on keeping your business ticking over rather than growing over the summer.
As I have said previously, many of your clients and customers will be on a go slow as well. I plan to only complete my coaching and writing obligations over the summer. Networking and projects can wait.
3. At the start of each week, prioritise your to-do list for the week
– and remember that you have seven days and evenings to complete the work.
4. Ask your children who they would like to see over the holiday and arrange a series of play dates.
You may find that if you have your children’s friends over, your children are happy and able to amuse themselves, and you are able to get some work done.
5. Block out days in your diary
-when you are on holiday, and your sole purpose is to spend quality time with your children.
6. On the days when you have to put some hours in on your business, how about getting up very early,
Do 3 or 4 hours work before mid-morning. Then spend the rest of the day guilt free with the kids.
7. Take a look at your council’s website as there are probably details of local summer play schemes available
– some may even have some places still available.
8. Delegate and outsource wherever possible.
If you don’t have a call answering service, pay for someone to answer your phone in the holiday. It may help you to enjoy your time with the children without wondering whether the phone will ring.
9. Agree a routine on ‘working’ days with your children.
Let them know when you need to be working and when you are free. If they are able to help with your work, then let them… (Just in case my clients are reading this, the 3 year old will NOT be assisting on any of our coaching calls…)
10. Stock up the fridge and freezer with home baking and ‘picnicky’ style foods
Then lunch can be rustled up in an instant, by you or your partner or children.
11. Have some ‘emergency’ activities sorted out, which will keep your children safely and quietly amused for an odd hour or so, if a crisis arises in the business, which can NOT wait.
For example, CBeebies is my emergency activity for my two children. (I would like to be able to leave them painting or doing craft… however, I have no plans for re-decorating the house just yet!)
12. Make a fun activity out of the daily chores.
For example, my two love helping me with the cooking.
Good luck with your summer! What’s your personal strategy for managing the summer holidays?
Heather Townsend(AKA @efficiencycoach) is the Chief Coach at The Efficiency Coach, and co-founder of ‘the executive village’. Heather has recently been commissioned to write ‘The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking’. (Due out in summer 2011).