The Daily Grind

How to manage your business during school holidays

Life in business can be busy enough and then it's school holiday time.

5 minutes

For many of us, we started in business to create a happy balance with family and work but school holidays can be challenging. It can be easy to end up struggling to harmonise our precious time allocation to each important part of our lives as business women (and mothers).

To help you manage your time during these school holidays, try these handy tips.

1. Create a School Holiday Schedule (and stick to it)

Time is not a renewable resource.

Each of us only has access to 24 hours in each day and, when you are wrangling children and business clients, it seems that it’s never enough.

Scheduling your time might seem too rigid but it is a very effective way to ensure you are making the most of your time to be productive – and happy.

Be realistic. If you want to keep your business functioning well, chances are that your time and attention is needed.

Schedule every day – days filled with play dates, family trips, downtime at home, work time for you, housework with them helping… and whatever else you need to do to manage your business while they are not at school.

By knowing exactly what you have time allocated to for each hour of your day, you can plan a time-table that ticks the boxes of work and play, without feeling overwhelmed.

2. Make time for your Little Co

Aim for around one-quarter of the school holidays day as time you can spend solely with your children to allow for a few day-long excursions that they will love. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Sure, there is the museum, the movies, the trampoline or indoor rock-climbing park (most of the time), but there is also the local park, your city’s bike path network and the indoor swimming pool that can provide a happy home for several hours without spending too much money.

To make this kind of excursion-based schedule work, figure out whether early morning work time, or late night work time suits you best and slot in some dedicated time for your business. If it means you rise at 5am to work until 8am, that’s a solid three-hour chunk of your time just for your business. Bookend a fun day with your family with another block of time at the end of the day (coffee can do wonders!), perhaps from 7pm -10pm when they are tucked into bed with a movie marathon and a bowl of popcorn and you’ve created a great day they’ll always remember, and been able to work nearly a full day.

On other days? Get in early to lock in play dates with friends who can take them for a few hours to allow you some work time while they have some fun. Relatives can also be helpful if you have access to them. There is nothing wrong, if your kids are old enough to enjoy it, with setting aside one or two days from the 2-week break, as screen days, when you create a movie-room at home with pillows, snacks and sleeping bags, and give the children free reign to enjoy a fun movie or gaming marathon. Yes, active play is healthier but your children need veg-out time too and as one small part of your holiday scheduling, you shouldn’t feel guilty about letting them flop around in front of screens if it helps you knock off a big block of work in your business.

3. Make time for work

On days you have to do some work to deadlines that can’t shift, create a one-hour on, one-hour off schedule for a stay-at-home day.

Set your kids up with an activity they like – whether that is their favourite show back-to-back or some colouring in things, or painting, with snacks on the side, then disappear to check emails and do what you need to do for one hour.

Make the next hour pure fun – bake a cake together, walk around the block, visit the playground, or play a board game.

Get them settled again and get yourself working for one more hour.

Your children respond to this well if they are involved in the management of it – perhaps set them up with an alarm and the permission to come and get you when it goes off. Give them the job of creating the next activity for your block of time together so it is something they really love doing. And so on…

Some suggestions for their hour ‘on their own’ – computer games, drawing, writing a story, creating a puppet show to perform for you, watching their favourite TV shows, decorating (and eating) the cupcakes you baked earlier, reading, dancing to their favourite music, or playing in the backyard. There is also a great website resource called www.storyboxlibrary.com.au - an online storytelling website that you can subscribe to for a low annual fee. It then gives you access to dozens and dozens of quality Australian picture books read by a really interesting range of Australian authors, illustrators, actors, comedians and other personalities – perfect for lower primary-aged children.

Yes, you’re not with them and you might be letting them have more screen time than you prefer. But it’s just a few hours – and it’s between some fantastic time with you. That’s the stuff they’ll remember.

4. Make time for you

All this balancing can make you tired. Remember – school holidays don’t last forever.

In between the scheduling of your work and your children, make sure you take time for yourself to relax and rejuvenate.

Your children do not have to be on-the-go every second. Teaching your children how to entertain themselves quietly with activities that are about entertaining themselves (reading, writing, drawing, playing an instrument) is a great gift – for them as well as you.

If you do have access to other people looking after your children for short bursts of time, consider taking some time out to do some regular exercise, mediation or even a pampering session.

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