Donna: School holidays. They can be jam packed with fun, spending time with your kids, and they can also be packed with stress. When you feel like you're splitting yourself into to keep your business going and also to give your best to the kids and have them have an awesome experience over the school holidays.
It can be a really tough challenge. So I wanted to offer a few tips on how to prepare for the school holidays. And in today's episode, I'm going to talk about the things that I do in advance of the school holidays, how I manage my time during the school holidays, and then how I worked through the backlog of things that build up over that time.
So if you're about to head into the school holidays, I know that this episode is going to be a cracker, so let's get it.
So this episode, it's called school holiday meltdowns. And I'm not talking about the kids having a meltdown. I'm actually talking about you. I'm talking about the mama meltdowns because, oh, my goodness, the school holidays are tough. And when you're running a business that operates year round as most businesses do, it's really not easy keeping up with all the fees. Now if your kids are not yet at school age, I think you're probably still going to get a lot out of this episode because I'm going to give you some tips on how you can apply managing the load of running a business with your kids in tow. You just might need to tweak it a little bit to suit your current season of family life.
You may have heard me speak about the seasons and what I mean by that. What I referring to there is in life, just like in nature, we have seasons that come and go. In family life we have the pregnancy season, the newborn season, the toddler season, then it goes into primary school and preteens and teens.
And then we also have seasons in business, the startup season, the learning curve. Then it's leveling up. Then it's the growth season. And this might happen a few times as you journey through your business. The trick to seasons, the way to effectively manage them is firstly to acknowledge them and go with it. Rather than resisting and adding to the friction.
Seasons are really important. They move us through our experiences and it could be as a parent or a business owner or both. At each stage or at each season we grow and we learn and we come out the other side with life lessons and knowledge. So you don't want to skip past. Although I got to admit when you're in the thick of it, you might really want to skip past it, but the toughest challenges usually bring us the best lessons if we tune into them, and if we look for those lessons.
So regardless of where you are in your season of being a parent right now, or your season of being a business owner, we just need to do the best that we can and learn as we go. And there's this quote from Maya Angelo, "when you know better, you do better". And I feel like a huge part of the stress that comes from moms in business, especially over the school holidays is beating yourself up that you're not doing enough for them.
And also at the same time, feeling like you're letting down your clients because you have here and you're half there. So my first tip for you today is to set boundaries, decide how you will spend your time during the school holidays. Now, what I mean by that is literally get a calendar or a diary out and take a look at planning your time.
If the kids have school holiday activities, pop them onto the calendar, play dates. You know, if you're in a community where they offer community events and activities, and you're taking the kids along to those, map them out into your calendar for the next couple of weeks. And then I also want you to think about the time of the day.
When your kids need the most from you meal times is obviously a big one witching hour, most definitely. And any other time that, you know, typically isn't a great time of the day for you to be working when your kids are with you. That's the first part for me. I like to block out some time in the middle of the day to spend time with my kids during the school holidays, because I know that when I can get them breakfast ready, I can do maybe an hour or two, and then we can have a break together in the middle of the day.
And then I can probably, get another hour in, in the afternoon if I need to. So it's about looking at what really works for your family and your kids on an individual level. Then I want you to look at your business commitments. What do you really need to do over the school holidays, make a list and then work out what is really necessary for you to do.
I bet that some of the stuff on your list can probably wait until after the school holidays. Then what you need to do is think about the time of the day when your business needs you, can you manipulate or manoeuvre your working hours to be either early in the morning or after the kids go to bed? Can you block out time in your calendar when you're not available to your clients?
Because here's the thing I know, from my own experience, that it's really hard to say no to clients, but what's worse is when you say yes to a customer or a client, and then you're not fully present, you're not fully there with them. They're expecting a certain level from you in the service that you're delivering.
And if you're getting interrupted by the kids, how is that actually going to affect the quality of the customer journey? The experience that they're having with you. So perhaps the better option would be to schedule it at a time when, you know, you can give it your all, and that could be after the school holidays or perhaps modifying your working hours for that time of the school holidays.
The other option is to be completely upfront with your clients and let them know that there may be a possibility that your beautiful little darlings will interrupt. Because you have them around during the school holidays. If there's, if you know, if you can't reshuffle your time, if you really can't say no to this particular client, then at least let them know what's going on in your world, in your home at that time, if you're working from home or if you're working from an office space, but you've got your kids with you, let them know so that it's not going to be a total surprise, if there are interruptions. So by mapping out your commitments, firstly, to your kids, then to your business, it makes it so much easier to say yes or say no to the things that come up during that time. So it's really about mapping out where you spend your time and how you're going to do it. So then you're really clear about your path boundaries around.
My second tip is to front load your business tasks as much as possible during this time. So that means before the school holiday start to try and do as much as you can in advance to free up your time to be present with your kids, during the school holidays, a big one is social media, batching and scheduling.
It's a massive time saver and it means you're still showing up for your customer base on socials consistently, but you're not doing it on the fly, which is quite stressful when you've got the children coming up to you, they are pining for your attention because you've got your device or your computer in front of you.
And it's always tricky to know what to say in your socials anyway. So why not batch it ahead of time and take the stress out of it during the school holidays, if you're a product-based business and you manufacture your own products, can you batch your stock levels to be higher than normal so that you're not creating products over the school holidays, and perhaps you can pre-prepare your packaging as much as possible for shipping your orders.
My third tip is to get help during the school holidays. If you can bring on extra staff, share your workload, share your business workload with your team. Yes, it might cost you more in wages for those few weeks. But what you're doing is you're actually buying back your time so that you can lower your stress and spend that time with your family instead of spending that time in your business.
Of course, it's going to cost you. You need to pay your staff. But the benefit of doing that is you're going to lower your stress level, be in the moment with your children and your business is still going to tick along without you. And it also means that the customer journey of your clients isn't negatively affected because some clients, they won't understand that during school holidays and therefore the service or the product that you offer might take longer than expected or that due to the school holidays. You may not be able to provide that service during that time. If you're still building your loyal customer base. There might be clients and customers that are not prepared to wait for you and they will go elsewhere.
So if you have well-trained staff in place that can help you, then your customers are not affected. And that's a real bonus. Another way that you can get help. Is to outsource for your home. Maybe you don't have staff in your business yet, but could you employ perhaps a babysitter during the day? Or you could ask for some help from a family or a friend and for a few hours block out some time to get your work done during the school holidays, just to alleviate that stress that can sometimes rise up when you know that your workload is building up.
The other thing to do is order online for your food shopping, use a company like hello fresh, or just go directly to the supermarket provider so that you can take the pressure of doing those home duties as well. Anything that you can do to outsource some of your duties at home is a big game changer during the school holiday.
Now my fourth tip is to communicate with your significant other and your kids about what the school holiday is going to look like. Once you've mapped out your workload and what that looks like over the period of time during the school holidays, bring your family up to speed with that as well. Even small children will appreciate knowing what's happening.
Mums need to work on their business and mums need to take care of kids. So explain that to them, literally say to them. So during this school holiday guys, mum really needs to keep working on her business. And I also need to take care of you, and that means I'm going to need your help. So here's what's going to happen today. After breakfast, I'm going to spend an hour working while you guys play together. And then after that, we're going to go to the park. Or perhaps you could say after lunch, you guys are going to have some screen time while I catch up on some work for my business, and then we're going to go outside and play together. How does that sound? So just letting them know what's coming and what you're doing while you're setting them up to do a different activity.
If you need to wake a few hours earlier to get your work done before the house erupts with the school holiday craziness, maybe it's important to explain that to your partner. Explain why you're getting up a few hours earlier and explain that in deciding to work at that time of the day, it actually helps you to dial down your overload and your stress.
And it also helps the kids as well, so that you're able to be more present for them. The same works if you're going to work late at night after you've put the kids to bed.
Sometimes that can cause a little bit of friction between partnerships, because perhaps your significant other really wants to spend time with you when they get home for work. But maybe you can explain it to them that for a couple of nights during the school holidays, this is what you need to do to be able to juggle the kids and your workload at the same time, without that becoming a stressor for you, which will then possibly lead on to friction within the relationship later on down the track.
Now my fifth tip, and my final tip for you for this week's episode is to be kind to yourself. As business owners, we don't have a supervisor or a boss telling us that we're doing a good job, nor do we have someone to tell us to slow down if we're feeling tired and worn out.
It doesn't all need to get done today. There is always tomorrow. There's always next week and there's always the week after as well. It's really about knowing. And understanding yourself and listening to yourself when things are starting to feel a little stressed. When you're starting to feel a little tired and worn down, be kind to yourself.
It's a mantra, I want you to repeat to yourself over the school holidays. The school holidays are not the time to bite off more than you can chew and then chew quickly. There are times for that, absolutely! Sometimes in business, we have to really extend ourselves and try something new and, you know, go beyond where we've been before. And sometimes that feels like you're biting off more than you can chew and then chewing really quickly. But for the school holidays, you need to really set boundaries around that. It's not the ideal time to do it. School holidays is the time to take small bites and understand that it might take double or triple the time, it usually takes you to get things done. And that is okay.
What I love about the school holidays is that we can use them as a bookmark for taking rest points four times a year. Like I was saying before, we don't have a supervisor telling us that we need to take annual leave. We have to do that for ourselves. And so school holidays can be a really great time to put that bookmark in for yourself. Just like the kids need a rest from school. You also need to take a rest from work. So maybe you could work those two things together and be kind to yourself. Take a rest, be present with your children and honour yourself by being kind to you.
So let's go over the five tips that I've shared with you in today's podcast for avoiding school holiday meltdowns for you, not for the kids, for you!
Number one is setting boundaries, understanding what you need to get done over the school holiday period. Map that time out, both with the kids' commitments, what you want to be doing with them and for your business, and then set boundaries around that. See if you can manipulate your working hours to work for you and your family during that time. And don't be afraid to say no. If it's going to upset the apple cart and damage your relationship with your customers, by trying to do two things.
Number two is to front load your workload. See if you can work in advance of the school holidays, starting to get as much work done as you can, if that means increasing your stock levels, so you're not creating on the go if you're making your own products. If that means preparing your shipping process so it's that little bit quicker. During the school holidays, those kinds of things like scheduling your social media in advance, doing as much as you can in advance of the time so that you're not feeling that pressure during those school holiday weeks.
Number three, get help in your business and or at home, if you can.
Number four is communicate with your family, let your family know what you need to achieve during the school holiday break and let them understand how it is that you're going to juggle those things so that there's no nasty surprises for them. And so that you're not adding to the stress by there being friction within your family.
Number five, be kind to yourself. You know, I am a big advocate for self care and school holidays can be a time of the year where you mark it as a rest point for you. I'm guessing you started your business for enjoying the freedom of setting your own office hours. And whilst you are not alone in thinking that it's easier said than done. Perhaps you could use this school holidays as a challenge for yourself to test out those freedoms and if it doesn't work so well, the lesson in that is to prepare differently for the next school holiday block to get more systems in place within your business, perhaps train up a junior staff member or an assistant build up those skills between now and the next school holidays so that they can step in for you for a week here or there. And plan your time in advance of the next school holidays so that the workload isn't as heavy during those weeks.
Remember what I said at the beginning, that amazing quote, when we know better, we do better. So test it out this school holidays, and then go about making the next school holidays better for you, your family and your business.
I really hope that my tips today have been helpful and that you can set the wheels in motion for a fabulous school holiday.