Working life and motherhood is not easy - and that's a complete understatement. Navigating a new routine, kids under your feet 24 hours a day (that's if you haven't thrown them into summer camp), the constant bickering, sandwich making, yada, yada, yah, cab send the most organised of us all, spiralling out of control.
Yes, we love our little people, but at times it can be challenging balancing the holidays, work and the needs, and sometimes demands of our little ones. Time to execute business deals, liaise with new and existing clients, and time to, most importantly, breath seem impossible.
So how are you managing the holidays with the children under your feet? Several mothers share their unique managing tips, take note sisters.
Mum of three, aged one, three and five.
FOUNDER OF zero waste shop
Enjoy your wee ones. They won't be small and dependent for long, so if you can try to plan your year around taking some time to step back when the holidays fall so that you feel as though it's deliberately designed family time rather than an imposition on your business time. Switching your mindset from it being a burden to a benefit is really important to managing your and their expectations.
Outsource where possible. There are many other awesome female led businesses offering all kinds of services. Join some networking groups and find out who can help reduce your workload temporarily by taking on tasks.
If you have staff maybe use this as an opportunity to help them 'up skill' by taking on some more responsibility. Incorporate it into their learning and development objectives.
Include your kids in the planning. Your family are part of your team. So treat them the same way that you would a staff member. Consider their needs and talk to them about their priorities. They discuss together different ways that you are able to both compromise. Managing expectations is really important. Including the kids in the discussion is more likely to achieve buy in to the outcomes leading to less confrontation.
Plan. Come up together with a set of: 1) paid trips/events which fit your budget 2) Free local events and activities that require your time but no financial outlay and 3) Wet and dry weather tasks/activities that can be opted for whenever there is a gap so that the kids have some agency and autonomy. Making them feel important and part of the process is less likely to result in wails of 'I'm bored!'
Decide on a project that can be dipped in and out of and completed over a period of time. It means that you always have an option to fall back on.
Mum of Layla 9, Charlotte forever 7 months old, and Jack, 3
FOUNDER OF SUNSHINE DIGITAL
I’ve entered this school holidays feeling as frazzled at the start as I normally do at the end - thanks for that Pingdemic! How will I manage my business full-time, keep my kids entertained while giving them lifelong happy family memories and stay relatively sane all for 6 weeks? Gin? Just kidding.
Ask for help from friends and family, don’t struggle on, even if it’s just a day here and there. If you can afford it use holiday clubs etc, even if it’s just one day a week, tough if the kids don’t like it, you need time to focus.
Childcare swaps, I often have my kids’ friends over for the day and then the other parent will take mine in return, lets face it, I’m already outnumbered most days so what’s a couple more in the mix.
Manage client’s expectations, you might not be as responsive, available etc. Make sure you take some actual time off from work so you’re not constantly juggling. Take time off from the kids too – your selfcare is important and you must put your own oxygen mask on first, remember that. If all this fails, get a time machine and go back to when you were dating and only consider teachers as potential spouses – school holidays covered forever!'
Mum of 3 aged 13, 9 and 6
Founder of Admire PR
After the past year of homeschooling and disjointed school hours they have been so looking forward to the holidays and a break. But the holidays are such a problem for all of us who are working.
I'm lucky really as their dad has them 2.5 weekdays each week in the holidays. So I pack the majority of my work into those hours. My tip is to create boundaries. For yourself and your clients.
I really find it stressful if I feel like I'm needed in multiple places at the same time so with clear communication,
I either have work time or kids time and I try my very best not to mix them. Of course, sometimes it's not possible but it does your kids good to know what you do for a job.
I tell them as much about it as I can and involve them. I change my email signature to reflect my 'summer workstyle' and that works really well. I keep the Thursday and Friday 'hours for Saturday and Sunday too and that means that I'm actually doing as many hours as in a traditional office week:
MUM TO ELLA, 3 YRS
Being a mum is tough. Being an entrepreneur is difficult. Being a Mumpreneur is practically impossible without 2 things.
A strong support network who believe in you and support you. Not just a nice to have, but a necessity. I have this in my husband, my business partner Steph, a few amazing mentors and a group of inspiring founders I check in with on a weekly basis. On the days my strength is faltering, I talk to at least one of these people and it gives me the confidence and drive to conquer another day.
A strong why. Like a deep, down, right to your core reason for doing this. For me it’s my desire to create truly meaningful relationships and to help people show they care. I lost my Mum and best friend when I was 18 and learned the hard way about how important it is to let those you love, know how much you care and appreciate them. This is not only what my company achieves through it’s unique, thoughtful gift-matching service, but it’s how we treat all our staff and partners too. (And often strangers we meet in the street!)
The irony of building a company centred around strengthening people’s relationships and helping others show how much they care, is not lost on the evenings I’m too busy to put my daughter to bed or read her a 4th bedtime story! However, I choose quality over quantity when it comes to both work and play with my daughter.
I try my best to focus on the 20/80 rule (20% of things that drive 80% of my business) and when it comes to time spent with Ella, we have dedicated “Big Girls days or evenings” each week, where the phone’s on silent and my undivided attention is focussed on Ella, letting her know how important she is to me and being completely present with her. I don’t know who looks forward to them the most now!
In the school holidays, my working hours have to change. I let my colleagues and clients know that, and the people I want to do business with appreciate and respect my honesty. (As tough as it can be at times!)
Strong network. Now is an amazing time to build that network. I highly recommend, The Entrepreneurs Collective, The Founder Institute, Entrepreneurs Circle, Weareradikl, and the Women in Business network, as tough as Mumprenership is, the entrepreneur community is an incredibly supportive one and there’s so much support out there for people who want it. I’m also happy to personally help and guide anyone looking for that support (LinkedIn).
Finding your WHY? If you haven’t already, read Simon Sinek, Start With Why. Talk to your friends! Ask your friends who know you best in the whole wide world, why are they friends with you? Keep asking until you find the reason that rings true and makes you feel proud. That’s something you want to build your foundations upon and will help keep you motivated on the tougher days.
Happiness Evangelist & Life Coach
Six weeks of school holidays, a six year old boy and a business to run is a recipe for stress and
quite a few tears (his and mine!) In addition, I am an expat from Scotland living in Germany with
my Italian husband, so there is little in the way of help from family.
Over the years I’ve had to find ways to juggle it all. Like many working mamas, I often feel that I’m not doing a good enough job both as a mother and a business owner. As a Life Coach, I’ve had to listen to my own advice
and here are 5 ways I cope in the school holidays:
Adjust your expectations
While I know there is no such thing as perfection it doesn’t stop me putting high expectations on
myself. Instead I have learned to be much more realistic about what I can achieve over the
Reduce your workload
I know the school holidays are coming so I plan all my social media in advance, clear off main
projects before the end of term and reduce my working hours. I delegate as much as I can. I
also adjust my work schedule working in the evenings when I have to.
What’s truly important to you? I am very intentional about what is important to me. My family is
important so I block off my calendar to ensure we have quality time together. Time for me and
my self care is important. A large part of my work is to hold space for people and pour into them
so in order to always show up at my best I have to look after myself. My business is a huge part
of me and my life so I prioritise my clients and put content creation and business development
on hold. Be consciously aware of what is actually most important to you and prioritise only those
things each day.
It’s ok to take a break
For many self-employed women it can feel hard to take holidays. There is always something to
do, but I feel strongly that it is essential for my health and well-being that I also take a complete
break of 3-4 weeks in the summer. It’s one of the benefits of being self-employed, right?
I recharge my batteries and come back stronger, more creative and more productive.
I am enough
The biggest shift for me has been in my mindset and with having more compassion towards
myself. As a coach I teach women how to change their negative thinking into positive and to get
rid of their limiting beliefs. It was a game-changer for me. Pay attention to your inner dialogue,
what are you saying to yourself? I can catch myself thinking negative thoughts such as I’m not
good enough or I should work harder. Then I challenge myself. Is this true? And talk to myself
with kindness. My constant mantra in the school holidays is ‘I am enough’