Like many business mums, I feel guilty for dreading the summer holidays. Wondering how I will entertain the children at the same time as ‘showing up’ for my clients.
In a previous post, I shared tips and strategies for business mums to cope during the school holidays. Many business mums simply shut up shop, metaphorically speaking, during the holidays however that approach can backfire.
If you stop marketing or promoting your business, you pay the price in September (i.e. lack of clients ‘in waiting’) and that can be just as stressful as managing a house full of bored children.
So what are your options?
Previously I shared my top five strategies
- plan ahead and set expectations
- systemisation – outsourcing and pre-scheduling
- being fully present – so that you don’t waste the time you do have with your children
- identifying your stress triggers – which allows you to anticipate or avoid certain situations
- self-love and forgiveness – even five minutes helps
Regardless of whether you are a working mum, a working dad, or running your own business, the school holidays inevitably present us with childcare challenges. The number of weeks in the school holidays simply outweigh the number of weeks of annual leave. One advantage of running your own business – you have the flexibility to work the hours and weeks that you want. (Though the downside is you’re never ‘off the clock’ unless you put firm boundaries in place).
One of the challenges in a service business: if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. However you can develop online products to complement the services that you offer, for example a video course, audio course, or an ebook. A good coach (hint, hint) can help you get started.
The biggest challenge for business mums – childcare
However let’s crack on with addressing the biggest challenge we face as working parents, whether you work for an employer or run your own business: childcare.
In a report published last year by the Family and Childcare Trust, it was found that 35% of parents found it difficult to find holiday childcare they could afford. 25% of parents had been forced to cut their working hours, 17% said they had taken days off sick for holiday childcare while 12% of parents had given up a job.
Given all of that, what are the childcare strategies that work? Here’s the combined experience from my clients and the mums I talk to in The Confident Mother Facebook group.
Childcare strategies that work
- Change your working hours: adjust your working schedule so that you start work very early OR work in the evenings when the children are in bed OR even weekend hours if your children will be out at classes. If your clients are parents too, they may appreciate the offer of an early morning or evening call.
- Summer camps or holiday playschemes: send your children off to a day camp or even a week camp. The UK Summer Camps & Courses Directory tells you what is on in your area. Summer camps offer a mixture of sports, activities and special interest such as dance or drama. If your children attend regular evening or weekend classes, ask if they are setting up any special summer classes or workshops.
- Ask grandparents or other relatives: many parents turn to family members for help and support with childcare over the summer holidays. I remember as a child, every summer I stayed with my Nan in St Ives, Cornwall for the summer holidays. If you ask relatives, this might be too much to ask for a prolonged period of time, however this could work if family members live close by and you can make a regular arrangement one or two days a week, or even 2 or 3 hours a week.
- Swap playdates with other (business) mums: if you have friends who run their own business too, get together before the holidays and organise a rota of playdates. Be aware of the differences in age of the children. Your average 10 year old will get bored if they are expected to spend time with a 4 year old for more than about 3 minutes!
- Pay for childcare e.g. childminder: if you are employed, check whether your employer provides childcare vouchers. The cost of these vouchers comes out of your wages, however you don’t pay tax or National Insurance which can save you money because you pay for the childcare from your PRE-TAX salary. Visit the government website for more information on childcare vouchers. Do be aware that childcare vouchers can affect your tax credits.
What about you? What are the childcare strategies that work for you? Don’t forget to check on the business strategies that I shared previously.
Don’t let stress and overwhelm spoil the school holidays.