Having kids and running a business: To be honest, I’m not sure which is more challenging... It’s safe to say both carry immense joy, stress, satisfaction and pressure. And when these worlds collide, you can feel like you're losing your sanity.
When the summer – or any – holidays happen, it can add another layer of stress because you have to maintain your business – especially if it’s your only or primary source of income – and make sure your children are cared for, whatever their age. The good news is that it might not be as bad as you’re anticipating. I’m not going to lie and say there’s a magic solution because the truth is there isn’t. However, we can do things to manage our well-being and situation a little better.
Here are the most common tips from blogs and articles from parents and carers in similar situations, alongside my experience of having children while running a business. Not everything will apply, and there are no hard and fast rules, but maybe something here will inspire you.
I can't stress enough that planning your work and childcare balance as much as possible will save time and stress. For example, are your children at an age where they need childcare? Are you able to move meetings to fit around your carers’ availability? There are some helpful apps available, such as Trello.com or todoist.com. Structuring your day will benefit you and your children, as children like to know what’s happening and when. Remember to schedule breaks for yourself as well.
If your children are of school age, plan to do more work during their term time. Prioritise tasks that are the most important or will have the more significant impact.
If you rely on social media for promotion, ensure your content is prepared and scheduled to go out in advance. Some platforms, such as Hootsuite, and SocialPilot, can help with social scheduling.
30 Best Social Media Scheduling Tools for 2022
Plan for activities or a day out as a family you can all look forward to away from work. Try stuff out ad see what works for you. One week for half term, I trialled having a sheet of paper with the days split into morning, afternoon and evening and wrote where the kids would be/what we would be doing during those times. It doesn’t have to be too specific, just the time of day, e.g. Monday – grandma’s all day. Tuesday PM – cinema.
2. Be Flexible
Sometimes plans don't go exactly as we expect, so have backup options. You’re almost guaranteed to change your working practices whilst the kids are off, so see where you can make this work, e.g. flexible hours, meeting with clients remotely rather than in person etc.
3. Managing Expectations
Allow yourself extra time to fulfil orders or provide a service. Be sure to manage expectations by clearly communicating with your clients. Also, be clear with your expectations between yourself and your children. If you have older children, make sure they understand that between certain hours when you are working, they need to respect that you are not to be interrupted unless it is an emergency.
Is there anything you can delegate? Whether that's in regard to your business or childcare. Are there other working parents you can organise childcare with, e.g. taking turns? Do you have any nearby relatives that can take the kids for a few days a week? Asking for help is not a weakness or a failure.
5. Keep the kids occupied
- Reading – take them to choose some books at the start of the holidays. These could be bought or made into a weekly trip to the local library.
- Board games – or any other games, are a good investment, especially if it’s something quick you can join in with on a break (although make sure it’s not a game you will need to set up first).
- Challenges – depending on the child’s age, you can introduce challenges to their day or even for the whole holidays. For example, reading a certain number of books, learning a new skill, etc.
- Film afternoon- either on one of the many streaming platforms or old-school DVD/Blu-ray; get some popcorn in, and you know that will be the kids occupied for at least an hour. Treat them and let them watch a couple in one afternoon.
- Take a lunch break together – If you're under the same roof but not interacting, have lunch together. You could order from somewhere or have something you don’t usually have.
- Ask older siblings to babysit. You can then reward them monetary or for privileges they wouldn't usually get. It’s essential, though, to not rely on them for this, or they may resent you and their younger sibling.
- Give them a project - writing a book, designing a website, making something, creating a piece of art – think about what your child is into and use your imagination.
These are just a few ideas, but they can be adapted and expanded depending on your child’s interests, age, and capabilities.
6. Drop the Guilt
Working parents deal with various types of guilt, from choosing to work to feeling guilty for taking some time out for themselves and everything in between. A rested parent is more effective than an overwhelmed parent.
Keeping your business going through the summer is very important but shouldn’t be at the expense of spending quality time with your children, having fun and making memories.
31% of parents feel their children being at home gives them a reason to work hard and succeed – but if this isn’t you, that’s OK!
Running your own business can bring many rewards. One of the central ones is the ability to make your own decisions. The effective time management of tasks, customers, suppliers, and family could enable you to set aside time for quality family activities. Remember, they soon grow up! Accept that you can’t do it all – and this is fine. 😊
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