School’s Out: Tips for Self-employed Parents

One of the best parts of being a self-employed parent is having greater flexibility for family time. One of the hardest is scheduling childcare, particularly when workloads can vary drastically from week to week.

This can make the school summer holidays tricky time for the self-employed. Those eight am networking meetings that are so handy when the school breakfast club is running are out the window during holidays. As is pretty much any daytime work more challenging than a few emails or social media posts.

But don’t worry, we’ve brought four North Wales businesswomen who are their own bosses as well as mums together to share their tips for being self-employed in the school holidays:

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Nicola Moore, Director of marketing and communications company MarketMoore, said:

“I’ve found that I don’t need to work as much as I think if I get organised and plan my time – this is key! It’s amazing how much you can achieve if you put your mind to it.  I switch off my emails and social media to limit the distractions and only check these once I have finished my list.  By following this plan, it allows me to spend time with my daughter every day.

“I also make sure that I contact all of my clients well in advance to let them know of my plans.  I’ve found that as long as you are open and honest and have set realistic expectations then they are more than happy to work with you on timescales.  After all, they too take time off over the summer holidays.

“It’s important to remind ourselves why we chose self-employment in the first place and for me one of the main reasons was so that I can spend more time with my daughter – whilst she still wants to know me and before I become the highly embarrassing mum. So don’t feel guilty; enjoy it and have a great summer making memories!”

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Sheena Corry, Owner at The Forge, Corwen, added:

“Summer holidays are our busiest time of year at The Forge as we welcome families from all over the country to our glamping site. This obviously also coincides with the school holidays for my two daughters, aged six and four. As my husband and I are both integral to the running of our business and because we live on site, balancing childcare arrangements can be tricky, to say the least!

“Luckily our children are very sociable and don’t mind mucking in with changing sheets and getting involved with meeting and greeting our guests. They are also more than happy to show our younger glampers around the site, sharing all the secret den spots and best locations to find different wildlife.

“But of course, there is a lot of work that is not really conducive to having two little ones running around – our bush craft experiences for example introduce fire lighting and knife skills! There is also a lot of office work behind the scenes to keep the bookings coming in and I also work three days a week in HR for a global management consultancy.

“To try to find a balance we put the girls into holiday club two days a week and call upon the grandparents for a day or so a week to help out. I think it’s fair to say that it is a balancing act that we are constantly adjusting as we go – no two weeks are ever the same, especially when you get thrown unexpected curve balls like a rogue tummy bug, a car breaking down or glamping guests who run out of logs, just as you’ve managed to get the kids to sleep!”

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Anna Burke, Director at Animated Technologies, said:

I have two boys aged four and two and I work three days a week in the office. It’s a juggling act and I find it difficult to switch from mum mode to work mode.

“If I didn’t have my phone I would be really stuck. My main tips are:

  • always make sure your phone is charged so when you do get 30 minutes ‘spare’ then you can flag what needs to be flagged to deal with later.
  • make sure you have Wi-Fi or data on your phone for uploading to social media.
  • when the kids get a natural low in the afternoon it’s usually cartoon or film time. Sit down with them and catch up on stuff on your phone.

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Laura Edwards, Director, Datgan PR, added:

“I take advantage of my children’s much-needed lazy mornings or afternoons. They’re tired after a long term and just want to lounge in their pyjamas and watch a bit of telly. So let them. Take the time to schedule some meetings, send some emails or catch up with some admin. I either let them have a lazy morning and take them out for the afternoon or tire them out in the morning somewhere and then do a couple of hours on the computer after getting back.

“I use evenings to apply for tenders, write blogs, catch up on emails. On days where multitasking is essential there are things you can do while you’re at the park with them like scheduling meetings from your phone, but compartmentalising works well for me. A day for the kids is a day for the kids, and I block book a day or afternoon of meetings for when the kids have a party or play date.

My most important tip is just don’t worry. Use your smartphone, read your emails, stay up to date on social media and just add anything that needs looking into further onto a master to do list. The list may seem dauntingly long, but August is a quiet business month anyway, so you’ll soon zip through that list come September. Enjoy it. They’re only young once.”

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