School Holidays Already???

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School holidays can sometimes send the work-from-home mum into a tail spin! What do you do with the kids? How are you going to get all your work done? This is a common problem for lots of work-from-home mums including Virtual Assistants.

Instead of stressing out my advice has always been the same: remember why you chose to work from home in the first place. Wasn’t it to be available for your children?

Of course, there are some solopreneurs who work from home for reasons other than children: perhaps you’re a single parent, maybe you were retrenched, you need to work because you need the money. There are a thousand reasons why people choose to start their business and to do so from home. But primary among them is flexibility – and the desire to control your own time.

If you are a Virtual Assistant who started your practice primarily to be at home with young children it can be difficult to juggle client demands with mothering demands. Putting undue pressure on yourself helps no one.

Remember: you’re the boss. That means you call the shots – not your clients. If you know there are school holidays coming up and you can afford to, take a few days off letting your clients know so that they can schedule work around your breaks. If you have colleagues you can call on to help out in your absence, do so. Subcontract arrangements work brilliantly for those times.

If you can’t afford to go away, then at least schedule time during the holidays to spend time with the kids – remember, for some of you they were the reason you started this. When I started my practice in 2000 my daughter was only 6 months old. By the time I had a full client load she was 18 months. I got used to working around her. And she got used to a mum who worked from home – learning how to answer the phone and knowing to play quietly in the office when I was working.

I’ll admit it became harder for me when she went to school because I got so used to uninterrupted work time whilst she was at school that holidays were hard to juggle. Then I stumbled on the formula that worked for me – client work for a few hours in the morning, middle of the day exclusively doing stuff with her, late afternoon working for clients again. Every client was advised in advance of school holidays, was told this arrangement and every one of them was fine with it. Clients don’t care when you get the work done as long as it DOES get done and to the usual standard.

Believe it or not clients are people too. Many have families and are probably jealous you get to spend so much of your time with the kids.

For older kids get them involved in some of the work around the office: filing, shredding, mail outs. Even younger children can help with mail outs putting stamps on envelopes.  You can pay them if that’s something you believe in, or barter for you taking some time off to do something with them that’s their choice.

Remember that you are in charge – you’re the boss – which means you call the shots. The minute you allow your clients to control your time, you’re an employee – and isn’t one of the reasons you started your business to get away from that?

Now, with the emergence of tablet devices, smartphones and WiFi hotspots you can take your office with you. If you truly can’t escape the office for a couple of hours, with these technologies you can check in on email or finish up a few things while Junior is playing in the ball pit.

But remember – every worker needs a break. Working from home makes that harder because you can never truly get away from work. I have never had a smartphone, or iPhone or anything that keeps me connected to email when I’m away from the office. When I’m away, I’m AWAY! It’ll be there when I get back. Using school holidays as a time for getting out of the house – even if just for a few hours – will be good for you, the kids and ultimately will cement in your clients’ minds the fact that you control your time, which will make you a more productive partner in their business.

©Lyn Prowse-Bishop, http://www.execstress.com/

2 comments

  1. Leanne Imbro says:

    Lyn, you have truly been my counsellor this week! You are telling me everything that I know, but I forget to remind myself!

    Thank you 🙂

  2. execva says:

    Leanne I often write these because I need reminding myself from time to time! 🙂

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