“Yes! They’re here!”
Do you remember that feeling when the Summer Holidays finally rolled around? The whole year had been building up this, six long weeks without any school, riding your bike, going on day trips, eating ice cream and being so excited that your parents let you stay up for an extra hour on weekdays.
Now you’re the parent, you’re self-employed and those six long weeks still seem like a long time but you’re not quite eas excited at the prospect of them as you used to be.
But we’re here to tell you that the arrival of the school holidays needn’t be all doom and gloom.
After all, what other job – apart from one where you’re the boss – lets you take a couple of hours off to go to the park with your kids?
And believe it or not, staying sane whilst keeping the cash-flow constant can be achieved. All it takes is some tweaks to your way of working to overcome the challenges that this time of the year presents to the self-employed parent.
1) Limit how often you check your emails
We know, we know… this is quite a big ask but reading and responding to emails can be an absolute drain on time so try to limit yourself to checking your emails just once a day. You could also set up an automatic response, thanking your clients for their message and assuring them that you will get to them as soon as you are able to. This should also help alleviate some of the Summer holiday stress and help you relax and enjoy time with the kids.
2) Focus and prioritise
You’ll be amazed by how little you actually need to work in the day to get by when you plan ahead and stay focused. Most organisations tend to quieten down over the 6 week holidays as most people find themselves in a similar situation: looking after the kids while they’re off from school or taking some time away from the business. This reduced workload and hopefully slightly sparser inbox should mean that if you stay focused when you’re on the clock, you’ll be able to achieve a day’s work in a fraction of the time. But remember, procrastination is not an option.
3) Be less social
Speaking of procrastination… It can be really easy to get distracted with your social accounts, but if you really want to make the most of the time you have in the working day, try to take a step back from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. etc. If you’re concerned about leaving disappearing off the face of the social sphere and the effect that it will have on your business, you could always schedule some posts using an app like Buffer or Hootsuite to keep consistency.
4) Share the workload
If you’re being bombarded with loads of work, you could always consider outsourcing some of it to trusted contacts. It’s also important to be aware that you don’t always have to say ‘yes’ to every offer of work. If you get offered something you’d rather not turn down, it’s ok to say that it might take a little bit longer than normal for you to complete the work due to your childcare commitments, allowing your client to decide whether they’re willing to wait for you. Putting the ball in their court is another stress-relieving tactic and hopefully, your client will be understanding of your situation.
5) Don’t forget to add in some ‘me’ time
Looking after the kids, housework and paid work – it can sometimes seem like the list of tasks and people depending on you is never ending. But believe it or not, you deserve a holiday now and again too so don’t forget to squeeze in some time for you. Call in the babysitters, get a cleaner in or outsource one of those tasks that have been hanging over you – do whatever you need to do to have some time (even if it’s just an hour) to think about just you, for a change.
And perhaps the most important point of all:
6) Try to enjoy it!
Your summer holiday memories may not be being made whilst you ride your bike around the neighbourhood or in the paddling pool anymore, but they will be made doing all those things with your little ones. Just like it seems only yesterday that you were doing those same things with your parents, let this serve as a lesson to you of how quickly time goes and act as an important reminder to make the most of these chances to create some more happy memories.