Surviving the summer holidays: Working from home with no childcare
This summer holiday will be my third time juggling working from home over the holidays with no childcare. And as daunting as it seems at the outset, I know now from experience that it can work but that it does require a quite bit of juggling and muddling through. Here are five things I did last year and am planning to do again this year to survive running a small business from home during the summer holidays.
1. A BIT OF PLANNING
I find the thought of having the kids home for eight weeks with empty days and no structure stretching out before me really daunting. At the beginning of the summer holidays last year, a friend recommended blocking out the weeks on a piece of paper and then making and filling out your plans and I found this so helpful. It means you can see the week ahead all written down and you know when you are seeing friends, going away or having a quiet day with no plans. This also makes it really clear when you'll be able to squeeze in some work and when you can't. A good week for me would be three or four days of seeing friends or doing something fun and then one or two days mostly at home with some work time and a small trip out (l mean really small, like a scooter round the block or a trip to buy an ice lolly down the road, that kind of thing).
In the first summer holiday of running Button and Blue I didn't really plan out when I was going to work and when we would go out. I remember getting really grumpy because I'd be out with the kids when I knew I had a ton of work to do, and it just loomed over me, feeling unfinished. By planning it out you can enjoy your time out with the kids because you know you've scheduled in some time to work the next day. And you don't feel bad for your kids having a slightly more boring day at home while you work, because you know you've got something fun planned in too.
2. GETTING WORK DONE WHILE THE KIDS ARE AT HOME
As I mentioned above my kids are at home with me all the time over the holidays. I have found it is possible to work with them around by making the most of little chunks of time. What works for me is to put a movie on for my eldest two when Luther has his morning nap from 9am - 11am (ish) and get a good chunk of work done then. This means I've been able to achieve something at the beginning of the day which I find helps a lot. I might do the same for Luther's afternoon nap time, or sometimes it's possible to squeeze in a few emails or finish a mitten in those glorious moments when I find my eldest two are playing together nicely on their own!
3. SET SOME ACHIEVABLE GOALS
I find it helpful to set some goals outlining what I want to achieve over the summer holidays. In that first summer holiday where I tried to work with the kids at home, I did not have realistic expectations and got pretty frustrated (you may have noticed that this first summer holiday was not a great time for me!). Over the last year I've found it helpful to write out the big goals, for example my goal for this summer is to finish and photograph my new mini collection for this winter. I then break down the big goal into a to-do list, for example; 'finish rainbow mittens, make rain cloud cardigan, photograph items' etc. I love a list and ticking off the things I achieve and I find breaking my goals down in this way especially helpful over the summer holidays, so I can see exactly what I've achieved and what steps I need to take next to get the big goal done.
4. MAKE THE MOST OF THE EVENINGS
The reality of having the kids at home does mean that there is less time to work in the day, so over the summer holidays I try to make the most of the evenings. I try to finish the work I don't enjoy as much in the day and use the evenings for the work I enjoy, such as knitting an order in front of Netflix or editing photos with a glass of wine.
5, NO 'MUM GUILT' PLEASE
Finally, I am not a big fan of the phrase 'mum guilt' and I aim to not let those feelings of guilt land. I feel like they don't help me work well or parent well so I try and shake them off quickly and not let them settle. There are always days where nothing goes to plan and I get cross and grumpy but each day is a new day and an opportunity to try again right!? And the summer holidays require quite a lot of being kind to yourself!