The run up to Christmas can feel like a two-pronged attack on mumpreneurs. As we all know, businesses and families both experience their busiest times in the build-up to the festive season. Businesses find themselves hiring extra staff, constantly topping up the stock, or cranking up their marketing efforts as they seek a share of the holiday market. Parents start shopping for gifts, ordering food for the Christmas Day menu, and taking the kids ice-skating, or to see Santa. How are you meant to fit all this in within the next few weeks if you’re both a parent and a business owner?
The first step is to immediately discard the idea of “fitting it all in”. It’s impossible to do everything that you could potentially do, so don’t feel guilty about not writing a to-do list the size of a novella. Focus on what needs to be done. In order to do this, spend some time working out your priorities, in terms of both your family and your business.
If, for instance, there hasn’t been much interest in your Christmas gift range so far, you probably don’t need to invest time and effort into recruiting seasonal staff. You can instead spend the time on developing new social media marketing strategies to help animate people into buying gifts from your website. And in regards to families, if extra relatives are going to be descending on you this Christmas, perhaps take the children for less outdoor ice-skating sessions than you normally would at this time of year and instead spend the time planning how you’re going to accommodate and entertain the extended family come the big day. Your kids will forgive you for the lack of ice action now if Christmas Day itself features fun, laughter and a full house!
Once you know which tasks you’re going to prioritise, you can consider how you’re going to accommodate both work-related and family-related duties. This is again a case of knowing your boundaries-don’t be afraid to delegate. Even if you feel you’re on your own, you’re not. We all have networks we can turn to for help and inspiration. Those of us who are single mums probably still have a family network in our parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. The bigger your family, the more you can spread babysitting duties around. Even if it’s just you and your parents, they may be eager to spend more time with their grandchildren than you realise. Grandparenting , after all, is a skill in its own right, and gives those of us who are retired a chance to show our continued value, mentally stimulate ourselves, keep active, and try new things.
Other networks you might have access to include your business peers, parenting groups, mumpreneur networks, colleagues/partners from your previous work roles/businesses, and old school or university friends. Whether you use them to help put the Christmas decorations up at home, or to spread the word about your company’s Christmas offers, just don’t be afraid to use them!
As for the work and parenting that you do yourself, be smart about how you do it. Staying up all night to work on ideas for your business before doing the long school run in the morning, may seem like a good idea if you’re short of time, but could backfire if, at 4am, you’re too tired to think straight about your business and at 7am you’re too exhausted to drive without
falling asleep at the wheel. Think more creatively about how to be productive with the limited time you have. If you need to come up with a design for your company’s gift catalogue before a meeting about it on Wednesday, ask a fellow parent to give your kids a lift to and from school on Monday and Tuesday. Use the free time this gives you to finish developing the design. Once Wednesday is over and the design is signed off, you can return the favour by giving the other parent’s kids a lift on Thursday and Friday.
And what about time for yourself? Even if you’ve worked out exactly how you’re going to balance business with family, you still need to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself as well. Make time to do whatever it is you like doing to relax. Read a chapter of a book before bedtime, take a bath instead of a shower, or go for a walk whilst everyone else is washing up after Sunday lunch! Be a little “selfish” to make sure you’re in the best possible mental, emotional and physical condition to look after both your business and your family.
As mumpreneurs, we are all under increased pressure at this time of year. But if we get clear on what our priorities are and we’re smart about how we use our time, resources and networks, it can be a time for both profit and family fun! Stop thinking about how to merely “get through” Christmas and start thinking about how you can get the most out of the festive season without ending up completely spent.
By Nisa Chitakasem -Founder of Position Ignition, a modern day careers advisory firm for professionals offering help around careers, transition and personal & professional development