When it comes to working for yourself, it just isn’t possible to take seven weeks off over the summer just because your kids are off school – either financially or from the point of view that you want your clients to come back. If you fail to deliver in July and August because your kids are off school, you can be sure they will find someone else to do their work when they need something doing in September or October. But of course some reduction in work is welcomed as you don’t want to spend the whole holiday working and not seeing your kids. Luckily, this seems to happen naturally to a certain extent.
This summer holiday was always going to be a real test for me. I had set my business up this time last year, but it was still in its early stages. I had no regular contracts, three medium sized jobs over the course of the summer and a couple of tiny one-off pieces that came in. It was pretty easy to manage.
In recent months, my workload has increased dramatically, which is great, both from a financial point of view and from the point of view of feeling fulfilled and useful. There are few better feelings than being busy and knowing you are doing something which is valuable to a client and which is also making money for your family.
Now I have two regular, ongoing contracts – one which needs to be dealt with every single day and one which needs doing weekly and sometimes more often. On top of that, clients who I work with regularly give me work whenever it needs doing – and it seems to need doing regularly! It could be an hour job or it could be a 30 hour job. More often than not, it needs completing within a day or two. If a six hour job for the same day comes in, any plans I may have with the kids have to go out of the window.
But I’ve pretty much found a solution and so far I’m winning at working in the school holidays.
My kids are older and therefore sleep late – 9, 10 or sometimes even later. I am a natural early bird and usually awake well before 6, often even before 5. So I set my alarm for 5.45 (not that I often need the alarm!) and I get up and work. I do about half an hour before breakfast, then I eat and carry on.
On a normal school and work day, I make sure the dishwasher is empty, the kitchen clean and tidy and the washing hanging out before we set off for school. There is no need to do this when I’m trying to get a full day’s work in before my kids wake up. Nor is there any need to get dressed. So I just keep working until the kids get up, then I help them with their breakfast and do the cleaning up. Often, with the natural reduction in work that appears to happen in the school holidays, by the time kids are up I have done enough work for the day. If not, I can go back to it later.
Evening people and people whose kids are young enough to go to bed at a reasonable hour can work at night, but I find it really hard. If needs be, I will go back to it in the afternoon when the kids are watching TV or playing on the Xbox.
So far, so good. My technique for managing my working in the holidays is working. I am WINNING at working at home in the summer holidays.