Long summer holidays are hard going for a small business owner. I will cheerily say ‘oh i’m really lucky, I work around the kids’ when often i’m tearing my hair out wondering when orders will go out, when i’ll reply to emails and whether or not I I’ll actually get those new products ready for September that I really want to make.
My business has always operated around my kids. It was born a few years before my son was but it didn’t really start to really working for me until after he was born (he’s 7 now) and really it has grown up with my youngest (she’s 4 and starts reception in September). To be truthful, I was rubbish at doing both for a long while. Frustrated that I couldn’t just do the things floating round in my head, and a bit angry that I never got time to do the things I wanted to do and it’s not like I didn’t plan to have them! I have learned to work around them though and sometimes work with them to get things done.
These are my top ten tips for surviving the summer holidays (or everyday if yours aren’t at school yet).
1. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t work every day.
Print that out, frame it, live by it. It’s your business, there’s no deadline. Only you and the comparison trap are causing the anxiety that says you must work everyday. If all you do in a day is respond to your emails, that’s ok.
2. Even baby steps in the right direction will get you there.
If you’re trying to build a business, don’t run before you can walk. There are business accelerators out there that will try and get you to hundreds of thousands of pounds of turnover in your first year if you want them, but is that really what you want? Would you end up feeling worse if you had lots more work to do and just as much time to do it in? I’m guessing not. Realistically think about where you want the business to be ultimately and think about the timeline to get there. Then think about what you want your shop to look like and work out the steps to get there. Then start working towards it, even if it is baby steps.
3. Plan your days.
This really helps. If you know that there’s going to be a day that you’re not likely to get much work done, then you won’t feel bad when you don’t. Or you’ll feel loads happier about the little bit that you do get done.
4. Carry a little kit that will allow you to work anywhere.
This can be as simple as a notebook and pen, your phone or a pouch of art and craft supplies. Then if your kids are off playing or you’ve been caught out by a napping toddler you can do a few stitches, sketch down that idea you’ve been planning or practise your hand lettering drills. It all helps.
5. Do chores when you’re on the clock as Mum.
The kids make the mess, they should see it being tidied up, or if they’re old enough, help to tidy it up. It’s no good to you if they think that the fairies come while they sleep. It’s also no good to you if you have no time to work because you’re doing the chores. And if you’re living with a bloke, he can help too. Don’t let him off the hook. So have your ‘mum time’ and your ‘work time’ just like you would if you were going to a job. Don’t feel bad about working around the kids either. It’s good for them to see you working.
6. Find ways to make your life easier.
I swear by Asda click and collect and meal planning. I don’t want to spend an hour wandering the aisles, my time is more valuable to me than that. I put snacks where my kids can reach them and make sure there is a drink poured for them that they can reach. They have this radar that goes off when Mammy is sitting down to do work that means they are hungry/thirsty/tired/itchy/need their butt wiped right in the middle of that one email you really need to answer. I swear it’s related to the one that goes off at bedtime. Foster that independence and let them get their own snacks.
7. Do one thing at a time.
Seriously, multitasking just leads to lots of half done jobs. Do one thing at a time, do it well.
8. Break things down into small chunks, write them down and tick off as you do them.
Don’t underestimate the power of ticking something off a list for feeling like you’re making progress. Even if it is ‘do the sketch of the thing’ or ‘write the listing for the thing’. Baby steps, remember?
Do the things that will make you money fastest. Sometimes that is just answering an email but that’s ok if that’s all you get done today. It might be taking a photo for a listing or making a new thing but that’s the aim, to make money.
10. Remember that it gets easier as they get older.
One thing I used to say when my kids were babies is ‘everything’s a phase’. The phases are often shorter when they’re babies but ultimately, things will change, and they’ll get more able to look after themselves for longer periods of time. My two are both playing games in the living room while I write this in the garden (the weather is lush right now) and they are taking care of themselves. There was a time I couldn’t do this. Quiet toddlers are up to something, quiet 4 and 7 year olds are an opportunity not to be missed. Don’t miss it.
Feel free to get in touch if you have any more tips to offer. I’m sharing my tips on how to work during the summer on my instagram stories over the next few weeks so follow along @mintmakerstudio if you’re interested in finding out more.