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Making school holidays work when running a business

It’s hard to believe that the Easter holidays are nearly here. It feels like only five minutes since the chaos of Christmas hit every parent.

We now have two weeks of Easter egg hunts, den making, picnics, beach trips, long walks, tantrums, grazed knees and of course lots of noise…you know the drill.

Do you have time to play?

Here are my top 10 pointers to get the very best from family life in the holidays and still work efficiently:

1. Have a routine and stick to it

As a business owner, I know that having a routine is what is going to get me through the school holidays. Prioritising your tasks and keeping a list of everything that needs to get accomplished is the key. If you don’t create a daily plan and communicate it well you and your children will both feel frustrated.

2. Prioritise tasks

If you can, structure your work schedule for flexibility and diarise working in the evening when the kids are in bed. This will give you the day to make memories and the evening to focus and work, without distractions, in peace.

3. Delegate

If you have employees, preplan any activities they could take off your hands for the two-week period.Even “Super You” needs help and support, so what better time to delegate and trust your team than during the school holidays. Be clear on the processes and who is accountable in your absence.

4. Balance some time with the children 

Plan your day around the children and the needs of the business. Wake up earlier if you can and get the main objectives for the day done. Respond to your emails and address anything that is urgent. After this, put your “out of office” on, and enjoy a day trip with the kids. I would recommend you hide your phone so that the temptation of checking your work emails is firmly out of your sight.

5. Set ground rules for interruptions from your children

This is a tough one and can be tricky whatever age they are. Give examples of when and how you should be interrupted and if you have an important call to take tell your children in advance. Maybe add a sign on your office door as a prompt not to knock. Don’t lock yourself away all day though, leave the door open to encourage them to interact with you when possible.

6. Have a wide range of activities to do throughout the holidays

Ask your children to make a list of ten activities they like to do and prepare the materials (board games, books or crafting, outdoor activities, a suitable film or new toy). However, don’t give them to them all at once (I learnt that the hard way!). Consider using a reward chart for them to earn a treat as they complete the activities with added rewards for more educational activities like reading.

7. Have something you can all look forward to

Arrange a special day out with them which will be a wonderful memory maker for you as a family.  Try and plan your activities around the weather so you make the most of your time away from the business.

8. Manage your client’s expectations of your response times

Let your clients know that you will be spending time with your family over the holidays. They will respect your honesty more than someone who eventually responds hours after they initially needed them.

If you work B2B, most business owners are in the same position, so don’t worry.

9. Consider other childcare options

Ask a family member to take the kids for the day. Family support has the benefit of being free, home-based and flexible. Building a network of school families can also be incredibly beneficial not only for those emergency situations when you are running late home from a business meeting but also to arrange playdates or holiday cover.

10. Holiday Clubs

There are plenty of holiday clubs that specialise in children’s activities at your local gym, Community Centre, and specific holiday care providers. The kids love these set ups as they are aimed at their age group and will keep them entertained for hours. The little ones are often so exhausted afterwards that a quiet evening is pretty much guaranteed! Details of these can be found on your local council website or on social media pages but hurry though, they tend to be very popular and book up quite quickly.

Overall, school holidays can be a stressful time, especially with deadlines looming and clients to keep happy. Ultimately the right childcare option is the one that leaves your children happy, stimulated and safe and one that leaves you with peace of mind.

It is possible to manage both business and family life. It may mean working odd hours for two weeks, but you will reap the rewards in the long run. It is the perfect excuse to take a little time out from the pressures of running a business and make special memories with your children.

After all, what is all the hard work for if not to spend some quality time with your family?

Happy Holidays!