19 Dec Home based business owners: How to deal with school holidays
Most independent home-based business owners probably started out with a simple wish list – escaping the commute to and from work, working in peace and quiet without the distractions of an office, and spending more time with their families. All of these are valid and achievable points, until the school holidays, making one wonder why businesses can’t take a break in tandem with the rise in mercury and the school holidays. This becomes additionally difficult if you’re the person in charge of child care arrangements, since it has the potential to become a juggling act of epic proportions, leaving you feeling as though everyone is compromising – you, your children and your work.
This raises the questions of how, as a parent working from home, can you make work happen while your children are looking at you for attention and an escape from boredom? Given how expensive child care is in the UK, finding something affordable to do during the school holidays (a period of high demand) becomes one of the biggest headaches a parent gets faced with. The lack of child care options and high costs of the ones available lead to overwhelming expenses for parents.
However, there is some hope. Between the cries for attention from your children and the physical endurance demanded by the relentless energy of youth, you just might be able to fit in some work and keep adequate time for play with these quick tips.
Make a plan
While this may seem like a pretty obvious thing to do, having a plan for each day during the holidays can go a long way in helping you get everyone organised. Put together a plan that not only allows you to schedule work tasks to different days, but also details daily activities that can keep the children busy. Stick the plan on the fridge and allow your children to add activities that they might want to particularly do during the holiday. This will help them feel involved since they have had a say in the plans and keep their badgering to a minimum. It is also advisable to keep your work plan flexible so you can adapt to sudden changes in plan, or if your children want a spur-of-the-moment game with you.
Create and maintain boundaries
Once your plan is ready, create certain boundaries for yourself and your family. If you’ve allocated time for work in advance, try and stick to it as much as possible to avoid late nights, stress or the overwhelming feeling of trying to cram everything into half an hour because you’ve gotten side tracked elsewhere. Similarly, if you’ve set aside time to spend with your children, don’t be tempted to return to your workstation and laptop, even if it’s to just ‘quickly’ check your email.
Make sure both family time and work time are accommodated for, and make sure that everyone else in the house is aware of the boundaries in place. Your children should know that when you are sitting with your laptop at your workstation at home, they should play quietly; but, when it’s family time, they will have your undivided attention.
Co-ordinate with another family
Remember, you are not alone in having to work at home with your children afoot during the school holidays. There are bound to be other families in a situation similar to yours. Liaise with them so you can all benefit. For example, if you offer to take someone else’s children for a while to give them some peace and quiet wherein to work, ask if they would mind looking after yours for a bit whilst you do the same. This way, you can spend some time working in peace and tranquillity, and also avoid feeling guilty about not working when you’re playing with the children.
Use technology wisely
In today’s day and age, young children are equally obsessed and comfortable with technology. And, this is definitely one of the occasions to exploit it. It is amazing how quiet and engrossed children can become once you sit them down with a tablet or computer, or even something simple like a few new films in front of the TV. Don’t be afraid to work technology into your holiday schedule – it can be educational as well as entertaining and, as long as the children still get to spend some time running around and getting exercise, using technology to entertain them shouldn’t be frowned upon. And, imagine the limited uninterrupted time and the amount of work you could get done in it!
Teaching independence and responsibility
Setting small tasks for your children to focus on or giving them chores to complete can go a long way in keeping them busy and quiet. Giving them tasks like helping to keep the house tidy, cleaning up any mess they make or even playing with the dog in the garden for a while can be useful in allowing you some time to focus on your work. Some children will happily get involved in new tasks because of the novelty of doing so, or because they are pleased to be trusted with a new level of independence and responsibility. If not, incentives may prove useful here. Allowing them to have access to more technology or play some online games, plan and choose the next activity, etc. can be the reward to encourage them to do something productive whilst you get your work done.
Juggling work and your responsibilities towards your children during their school holidays is difficult, but working from home does allow you a certain amount of freedom and flexibility to create a manageable schedule. It is more difficult for those working in a more traditional work environment. If you feel like you’re ready to make the switch to working from home, please contact us. We provide a virtual platform that connects primarily work-at- home service professionals running small call centre businesses to Fortune 500 and other large companies.