This month our blog has been written by the co-founder of Pink Spaghetti, Vicky Matthews, who has two children, Holly and Tom.
The thought of the long school holidays can fill working parents with dread. For myself it is very much a period of juggling, however if you plan ahead it can be a lovely time to step back a bit and enjoy precious time with your children.
My children are aged eleven and seven so I know just how challenging it is to balance business and children during school holidays. There is no ‘right’ way; you must find what works best for you. Over the years I have tried most options and this summer my kids will spend two days a week at different holiday clubs, which they love, however we have had to try lots of different ones to get to this point!
Most of the time it is a balancing act and there will be times when you have to change your plans at the last minute because something urgent comes in. However on the whole if you can try to keep things simple and not over commit you can get a good balance over the holidays. Trying to perform both roles simultaneously does not often work and I have tried working on a laptop while my kids were nearby doing what kids do and it just doesn’t work, so dedicate your full attention to one thing or the other where possible (however I know this is not always possible and I am often guilty of just quickly checking my emails when I should be doing something else!).
Here are my top tips on juggling over the school holidays:
1. Weeks (if possible) before the holidays begin start to plan out your weeks. I get a large sheet of paper and map out each day and schedule in set times for the business and the kids. When deciding which days to work I look at the rest of my team’s holidays and any regular business commitments that I have. I then look at what events are on for the children that we would like to go to and diarise these. At the end of this process I have an idea of which days I will be working and which days therefore I will need some help with the children.
2. Use a mix of paid for childcare and favours/child swaps etc. Childcare can be expensive and my children are not always keen on going to a holiday club. I have a fantastic network of friends and family who can help. Friends may have my children one day and I have theirs another. My parents and in laws are great too and are always happy to have the children.
3. On the days that I am with the children I will get up early before the children (I am lucky my children will wake up at 9.30am in the holidays) and can do 4 hours work before we start the day. I can then pick up any other bits in the evening. However if I have had a good start to the day I always feel more in control!
4. Use technology wisely. Although I think it is better to dedicate your time to either the children or the business there are times when you do need to keep in touch. My iphone is my saviour and it allows me to access my emails and any of my documents. We save all of our documents on Dropbox and I can see these on my phone too. This means I can respond to an urgent enquiry without being at my desk.
When I’m feeling stressed at the thought of how I will cope I try to remind myself why I set up my business – to have more freedom and the flexibility to spend time with my family.