Jade Waddy is preparing to balance work with having the kids around this summer. Here are her survival tips…
For those who have children (like lucky old me!) who are off school for the holidays for the first time, it may seem like a joyous occasion where you can spend quality time with your children. But if you’re trying to run a business at the same time, believe me, it’s a bit more complicated! I have found myself juggling work with spending time with my children and clearing up after them, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you run a business from home then there are certain things you can get your little lovelies involved with which not only keeps them happy and active, but can also help you towards a successful business.
Time management is the key here as the children will more than likely want to go on trips and outings. If you have a business where you travel a fair amount then you may be able to take them with you some of the time. But for those who seem to be stuck indoors, there are small and effective solutions to the problem. I take a tablet or laptop to the park or beach and get some work done while they play. At home, I provide the children with tasks to keep them entertained such as sorting (easy filing) and brain storming. Just be sure to cover anything you don’t want to be drawn on, or like me you will end up with a work of art all over your brand new carpet.
Multi-tasking is hard to avoid when you’re working and keeping half an eye on children, but it is never ideal. If you’ve ever heard someone brag about how great they are at multitasking, it’s OK to roll your eyes. No one is good at multitasking, because that’s impossible. The Neuroscience Department at MIT conducted a study that shows our brains don’t multi-task—they switch back and forth from tasks quickly, but that’s all. In fact, attempting to multi-task makes you less efficient and less productive.
Once the children are done with their small tasks you can reward them with things such as stickers or stars. There are lots of places where you can buy reward charts for your children and they are super effective. A child is more likely to do something for you if they’re going to get a treat at the end of it whether that be a star on a chart or a piece of sugary fruit such as an apple or banana. You would be amazed at what my daughter will do for a hobnob biscuit.
There is no shame in admitting that you need a little help over the holidays. After all, if you are a working mother a six-week holiday is not feasible and keeping the kids cooped up for the entire holidays is unfair. Children enjoy socialising with their peers and throughout the summer there are often a range of activities and play schemes that your child can participate in. To find the best summer kids clubs in your area ask some other parents (those with older children will have had to seek out these solutions before!). You can also visit the local council website or see if your child’s school offers any summer camps. The cost can vary enormously from area to area but if you receive childcare vouchers you can use these towards the bill if they are Ofsted registered.
I asked an expert for some advice. Here’s what Esther Radnor of Mum Plus Business has to say:
“If possible, working in an environment where you are not the only adult can help tremendously. Another mum/dad may be working in the same business, or even something completely different. The children socialise with each other and the adults can split the supervision and entertainment. One man can’t lift half a piano, but two men can lift a whole one .”