This is my first summer holiday being self employed. There have been some challenges but on the whole it has been amazing as I've spent happy, quality time with the children.
Last summer holiday I was employed full time and we (my husband and I) spent the time juggling the children, ferrying them to holiday club and making sure we could fit in everything. Last year is in stark contrast to this year.
The main challenge of being self employed for me, is getting work as a new business. In comparison, the childcare aspect doesn't seem such a problem this year. Usually it is my biggest concern - finding somewhere where they both can go, covers all day and isn't too expensive. As my husband can work from home, I said to him what day time work I had booked and he said yes he could cover it.
This situation is win win all round. The kiddies are happy as they hate the sports holiday clubs I sent them to (as they were usually a lot cheaper compared to the one they liked). Husband is happy as he gets longer to work and not have to drop them off at 10am and pick up at 4pm. Bizarrely I have got some work next week at a holiday club and both of them don't want to go even though there is film production, arts, bouncy castle and circus skills.
The highlight is having fun with the children. When I get home from work, they are pleased to see me and ask about the animals or what else I've been up to. This morning I went out on a cat visit and when I got back they had managed to get dressed. I did have to remind them to brush their hair though! Then this afternoon I had a planning meeting for the holiday club work so this morning we packed in lots of fun. I think they were pleased that I was going out so they could have some time on their tablets.
I can see that there will be juggling of the children over the next few weeks. But it is lovely to have the time with them, do fun things and also work. I have got quite a random schedule but am hoping to get more pet sitting work. The beauty of it all is, while they are at their activities, I can work on my phone to try and advertise my services. Or if I don't get a chance, I can work when they are in bed. It is a very weird concept for me to be so relaxed, laid back and without a strict schedule. I am embracing this change and we are all enjoying the benefits.
So with the childcare issue resolved, I can only see positives of being self employed. My children are old enough now to wait 20 minutes if I need to do something on the computer. They use this to their advantage to have extra television time.
We've talked as a family about the challenge of getting new business, and the children have agreed to help me do a leaflet drop. It will be exercise without them realising, quality time together and a great help to me. I've offered payment in cake and television time when we get back.
Tips for Managing Work and Children Together
I know there has only been a week and a half of the holidays, but it has gone so quickly. So here are my top tips to successfully managing and multitasking with kids around:
- Find activities - the kids are happier with something different to do especially if it's not at home. I have a good look around and see what the kids want to do. (We create a timetable to fit in as much as we can.)
- Plan ahead - we have a list of what the kids want to do. This means it saves thinking time if I have half a day with nothing to do. Also have options for inside if it is raining/hot.
- Plan work ahead - I find it works best for me to plan my week ahead on a Sunday night; especially if I have bookings or deadlines. Also, if it is necessary I use a scheduling tool such as buffer for my copywriting work. This saves me having to think and I can do a lot of work in one go while I'm in the mindset.
- Be flexible - plans can't be fixed as life happens, things change, kids are grumpy, torrential rain or get work bookings. I have found it is best if I have plans but am ok if they need to change.
- Food - kids need feeding constantly but refuse to eat creating constant battles. I've planned more exciting picnics with 'Gregg's' picnics as treats. Its a treat for me not to have to make a picnic plus the kids love them. Less to carry on a day out too.
- Involve the whole family with work - it teaches the kids life skills and they feel important as involved.
- Take time out - it is great to relax and have time to watch a film at home. Simple activities are fun, low cost and it is great to switch off.
- Create a vague routine - I've found it is great to start the morning off doing a calm activity. The first thing after breakfast is reading for half an hour. Depending on the kids mood, this is followed by some maths.
- Cherish the quality time - kids grow up too fast. Before I know it they won't want to hang out with me.
- Be realistic - don't put too much pressure on yourself.
However saying this, ask me in September how the summer went!