School holidays have just begun here in Queensland. I posted this on my personal blog early this year and it got some great feedback, so I thought I would share it with readers of the Small Business Diva too.
My baby is now in his teens and at high school (boy, I feel old saying that) so it’s really no more difficult to work when he’s home all day. In fact, I enjoy being able to sleep in a bit!!! In my case, the occasional, “Muuuuum… I’m hungry,” is dealt with by a simple reply of, “There’s the kitchen,” while pointing in the general direction of said kitchen. If he’s getting something yummy I’ll often follow up with, “I’ll have one too while you’re there,” or “Put the kettle on for me would you Darl?”
Okay, so I have it pretty easy, but it wasn’t always this way. He was little once – many, many sleeps ago – and I often have young nieces visiting for the holidays or, at one stage, young foster children here. School holidays always remind me of how difficult it can be juggling the ever-professional-business-Mum with Mum-of-kids-on-school-holidays.
I found the most important way to survive these times was to BE ORGANISED. To start with, mark the school holidays in your diary in advance and try not to schedule too many appointments during this time.
There are lots of ways you can involve your littlies in your business – help packing orders, sticking labels or stamps on envelopes, simple sorting. I also made a habit of keeping a miniature desk and chair near my desk, along with a toy phone and some simple stationery items (espcially a stapler and a hole punch – they love those!) That way the kids can be creative while playing ‘pretend’ workers too. I also kept my old computer at a desk in my office and my son would sometimes sit up there ‘doing his work’ with me. Of course, his work involved software such as MS Paint, PrintMaster Gold (card making – lots of graphics in that one) or a couple of Sesame Street games.
If you need to run errands, time these around your child’s needs so they are not tired and grumpy.
Where possible, try to arrange ‘kid-sharing’ with a friend or relative. On one day, you can look after their kids and just spend the day with them. The next day, the other person has the kids and you devote time to your work. Alternating outing days with home days can help reduce boredom too.
Try to avoid getting caught up with work for too long at a time. Kids may get resentful and play up just to get your attention. Where possible, alternate time with your kids and time in the office.
The most important thing is not to be too hard on yourself and your expectations. Remember WHY you’re working from home in the first place. In many cases it’s because you want to spend more time with your family (working in your slippers in just a bonus 😉 ).
What are your tips for balancing work/family during school holidays? I’d love to hear them.