Ah! I don’t know about you, but one of the reasons I set up my own business was to ‘be there’ for my son, who had just started school when I set up my business. I wanted (and still love) to take him to school and pick him up. To attend assembly’s, sports days, Easter and Christmas services. I feel so privileged to do this.
My son doesn’t enjoy kids’ clubs, so I work while he’s at school and I do a bit late afternoon and, in the evenings, if required – and this works well in our family.
I do, however, get stressed about the holidays! I’ve talked myself into thinking that the half term breaks are fine – they’re just a week after all. Christmas is doable because most people shut down for a week. Easter is a little trickier, again there’s a very long weekend. But the summer holiday is a complete juggling act.
The reality is that my mother’s guilt goes on overdrive during the holidays – no matter which one we’re talking about. During half terms I’ll feel guilty because Sam will only have a week off and I might work for most of that. We may only have one full day for ourselves. During longer holidays I’ll feel guilty because I’ll be working and will either have to palm him off on someone or hope that he’ll entertain himself much of the time. Even when I’m not physically working at my desk, we may not be able to go anywhere because I may have an appointment later in the day.
On the one hand I feel lucky because he’s an only child and I only have him to worry about – on the other hand, he has to entertain himself.
I don’t have the answers, but I’ll share what I do know – and what I’ve learnt during the last three and a half years of juggling work, guilt and fun times.
Work out what you need to do and make that a priority. Don’t worry if non-urgent work doesn’t get done as long as it doesn’t impact on other things. Planning is a must! Plan your day ahead and the work you need to complete.
Work at optimum times
Figure out when you work best, for me its mornings.
Also figure out a time of day when working won’t impact on family life, for me it’s evenings.
This means that if I’m organised, I can get up early and crack on – have some time out with Sam – and then work again in the evening. It doesn’t always work when you have clients to fit around, so only open your diary for appointments on certain days of the week, leaving other days free.
Tell your clients that your children will be off school, ask them what they need and tell them what they can expect from you. I find that clients are very understanding, as long as they know what’s going on, how they can contact you, etc.
Remember that guilt is normal
Most mothers/parents feel guilty for one thing or another. Lots of parents have to work in an office or a certain location and don’t have the benefit of working at home to ‘be there’. Lots of parents only see their children for a small window each day. No matter what the circumstance, you can guarentee we’ll be feeling guilty about it!
Let your children get involved, if they can
Depending on your business, your children may love to get involved. Are there any tasks that they can help you with?
Sam isn’t interested at all in my business but I remember getting very involved in my mum’s business. In fairness, things were different back then without technology. I’d be tasked with archiving, envelope stuffing - I learnt to type at my mums office, she covered the spare typewriter keys with masking tape so that I learnt to touch type!
Take time out
Do the things – go and have fun with your children.
If you’ve planned and organised your workload and told your clients what to expect of you, then you can go out and have some great fun and make those lovely memories. Remember why you’re running your own business and doing what you do!
Do let me know your top tips in the comments below - I think working mums and dads everywhere would be interested.