While the ongoing pandemic has certainly brought the world to a standstill and has ordered many children to stay home from school, the school holidays have only just begun! While some year groups have returned to their educational responsibilities, many are waiting to return in September and this summer break won’t feel much different from the past few months if you’ve been homeschooling the kids.
For small business owners who have young children to take care of, many more responsibilities will be found at home, but how can you balance both the summer holidays and running a business at the same time? After all, it’s not always a question of how organised you are, but how energetic and enthusiastic you are after weeks of such a busy schedule.
We’d suggest that if you can get through this with a smile, you can get through anything. That being said, this needn’t feel like a term of punishment! If anything, more contact with our children is a good thing. As a business owner hoping to operate efficiently while also trying to keep the little angels entertained, you may wish to use some of the following guidelines to help you…
Schedule your work
You may dedicate yourself to the most complex task of the day when your child is taking a nap in the middle of the day, or decide to schedule your more difficult projects or communicative tasks at this time, when you are unlikely to be distracted.
It could also be that you decide to complete the bulk of your work in the evening, when your children have retired to bed. Using simple tools such as the television, collaborative toys, and other engaging activities to keep them entertained is important. You may set up a table and chair in the back garden and provide them with a trampoline or paddling pool during the sunshine – obviously make sure you’re keeping an eye on them at all times.
Scheduling your work and breaking it down into tasks can help you make micro-progress, even if you’re regularly distracted. Sooner rather than later you will become a multitasking wizard, although if you’re a parent to begin with, it’s likely you have those skills already!
Set ‘independant’ areas
Setting independent areas between work and family time can be an important task. For instance, a home office can help you compartmentalise more appropriately. This is easier than having your documents and daily work briefs spread across your kitchen table while your children eat their toast… !
If you have help at home, for instance a stay-at-home spouse also working from a laptop, you may decide to take your work in ‘shifts’, where one of you looks after the children when the other is working.
This isn’t so much a productivity tip as it is a mental health tip. Separating your ‘professional mindset’ from your ‘family mindset’ can help you delve more deeply into both, instead of juggling and feeling more burnt out as a consequence.
There’s no shame in hiring a babysitter or childminder. If you have a large brief to take care of, but your children are swinging from the walls and seemingly trying to create their own Mona Lisa on the wall with permanent markers, you may need a little space – and nobody will blame you (and in fact, other parents may be jealous!). Alternatively, ask their grandparents or another family member or friend to take them out for the day (keeping safe, of course).
Remember, running a business or working with children is hard. You’re not weak for needing a little extra help.
If your child is taxing or distracting you from your work without care, it’s important to let them know that isn’t okay (as is appropriate). This way, they can learn when is best to interact with you. The same goes for clients. If you need to accept a call, let them know that your children are in the background. They will understand! We are all human, and any reasonable person won’t mind. You’re not breaking a social taboo by asking for a little understanding. With this advice, we hope you can more easily juggle work and the school holidays.