Most entrepreneurs who run a business from their home probably started out with a dream. A dream of working in peace without the bustle of the office; of setting their own hours, and of spending more time with their families. So it’s ironic that it can be such a nightmare to achieve any of those things when the school holidays roll around.
But there’s hope. Between the wails for attention and the physical endurance demanded by the relentless energy of youth, you just might be able to squeeze in a bit of work with these quick tips.
Get a head-start
As always, prior preparation is vital to your performance. So long before school breaks up, get a solid plan in place:
1. If you can, get your most crucial and long-term projects out of the way during term time.
2. Schedule the work that requires your full attention for the daylight hours when the kids are out playing. Save the low-concentration work for when you’re more likely to be interrupted.
3. If you’ve got business partners or employees who don’t have kids to worry about, offer an exchange: you can help them out with their workload during term time, as long as they’ll help you out during the holidays.
Keep things separate
Your work deserves your full attention. But so do your kids. You don’t want them messing around with the boiler timer switch while you’re on a conference call, and they don’t want to see you replying to emails in the middle of a garden football match. So find ways to fully divide your time:
4. Share play-dates with other local parents and their kids. The long periods of solitude should just about balance out the times when you’ve got twice as many little terrors to entertain.
5. Get them involved in something fun – and far away. Local leisure clubs usually have loads of different sports days and part-time summer camps for a day or two a week, and if you can find something the kids are into, it’s a win-win situation.
6. Accept that you won’t get all the sleep you want. Work later into the evenings, when the kids have gone to bed. And if they’re old enough to be trusted, prepare their breakfasts the night before so you can get a little extra lie-in.
7. If you can afford it, get a virtual assistant to take care of the less important tasks. Sorting emails, taking phone calls and paying invoices and bills are all daily things that a part-time freelancer could get done for minimal cost – giving you more quality time with the family.
If you want to maintain a healthy work-life balance – while still maintaining your composure – you need to accept that you can’t do it all.
8. Manage your own expectations. Don’t bite off more than you can chew – think realistically about how much work you should be trying to take on, and how much longer that work’s going to take when you’ve got kids to attend to.
9. Manage your customers’ expectations. Hopefully, if you have a good relationship with them, they’ll be fairly understanding of what it’s like to be a home-working parent during the holidays. And if they’re not, just be honest with them: they should at least appreciate being given some advance warning of your lack of availability.
10. Manage your kids’ expectations. Unless they’re especially young, they should be able to understand that they can’t have you 24 hours a day. Be clear from the outset that you’ll make time for them, time for your business and also time for yourself.
Adapt to your kids’ needs
Every child is different. And no one knows their quirks better than you. So if they’re usually hyperactive in the mornings, take them to the park early in the morning and wear them out with some sports. Or if they’re usually sleepy in the afternoons, stick on a film and get as much work done as you can.
It’s not always easy to strike the right balance, and there’s no such thing as a perfect parent – or a perfect business-owner. But with careful planning and a little innovation, you should be able to get the best of both worlds.
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