A lot of VAs set up their businesses to work around their family life. Picking the kids up from school? Yes. Christmas plays and sports days? I’m there.
Then we get to June, and self-employed business owners and parents everywhere are suddenly aware that something is looming – the summer holidays.
With children at home and routines disrupted, it can be difficult to balance work and family commitments.
This year is the first year my eldest daughter (4) will be with me for the whole 6-week holidays.
I thought working around her would be easy. I had all of these idyllic images in my head, picturing making her a snack and sitting her down with some crafts while I held a quick client call and then snuggling up in the afternoon with a film or heading out to the park for a walk.
I was sorely mistaken as the first time I attempted a client call when she was around, I was immediately interrupted with “Mummy I’m hungry”, “Mummy I need the toilet”. “Mummy I’m thirsty.”
And that was one day for a 30-minute call.
How on earth am I going to manage 6 weeks?
After battling through the Easter holidays and the latest half term, I’ve put together my top tips to help you maintain a good work life balance this summer.
1. Plan ahead
Planning is crucial when it comes to being self-employed during the school holidays.
It is important to plan your work schedule around your family commitments, taking into account any activities or events that you and your children have planned.
It’s helpful to create a daily or weekly schedule that outlines your work hours, family time and any other commitments.
2. Prioritise your work
It can be difficult to find the time and motivation to work during the holidays. The sun is shining, and you’d much rather be spending days in the paddling pool than at your desk.
It is important to prioritise your work and focus on the tasks that are most important. Set goals and deadlines for yourself and break your work down into manageable chunks. This will help you to stay on track and ensure that you are making progress.
3. Work smarter, not harder
Working smarter, not harder, is key to being self-employed during the school holidays.
Look for ways to streamline your work processes and make the most of your time.
For example, you could batch your work, working on similar tasks together to minimise distractions and increase efficiency.
You could also look to automate where you can, Zapier is amazing for automating different tasks. Set up buttons on your email that transports tasks straight to your to do list or get your invoicing process as automated as possible.
Saving 5 or 10 minutes here or there really does make the difference!
4. Communicate with your clients
Communication is the most important thing when juggling family and work over the holidays.
Make sure that you communicate clearly with your clients about your availability and any changes to your schedule. Set expectations early on and be transparent about your work commitments and priorities.
5. Take breaks
Taking breaks is important for maintaining a good work-life balance.
Make sure that you take regular breaks throughout the day and take time to relax and recharge when you can. This will help you to stay focused and productive and avoid burnout.
Split your day if you can into 30 minute or 1-hour chunks (depending how old your kids are). Can you do an hour of work and then spend an hour with your kids? Working in shorter bursts can increase productivity so it’s worth trying this!
6. Be flexible
It is important to be prepared for changes to your schedule, and to be able to adapt your work as needed.
Things happen – kids get ill, the weather turns, plans get changed. Try not to stress about changes to your schedule, take a deep breath and go with the flow. Build in enough flexibility in your plan that you can have an unexpected day or two off without then being against deadlines.
Also, adapt your working time. Are you more focused at 6am before the kids wake up? Or perhaps, like me, you get a sudden burst of energy at 9pm? It’s okay to change your working time to suit your life.
7. Cut yourself some slack
Be kind to yourself. You are just not going to get as much done if your kids are around than if they weren’t. It’s a fact.
Try not to be too hard on yourself and don’t feel guilty for not working as much. Enjoy the time you have with your family and stick to your plan as much as possible. If you said you weren’t going to work on a Friday – then don’t!
8. Reach out for your support
Are you having a particularly hard week? Are you feeling burnt out? Or stressed?
Reach out to the VA community for support.