A friend of mine was sitting on the sofa at 3am as you do when you have a 10 month old who won’t sleep, and it dawned on her that the summer break was creeping up on her and she had 5 weeks left to organise her diary, otherwise she would not be able to work for 6 weeks – something that you just can’t do when you work for yourself or work full time!
So, what do you need to do in order to survive the summer break and keep everything afloat for those incredibly long 6 weeks!
Why you need to plan in advance?
- If you run your own business you don’t have anyone to do your work for you. Same applies if you are employed but work independently; there are no colleagues who can do your job for you.
- One option is to take two days a week off, this gives you continuity and makes it easier to find people to look after the kids for you. If you have a partner, they could do the same, so you could cover each other and have no childcare issues. Obviously, you won’t be able to do anything as a family this way, but if you plan it right, you could take a week off together for a proper family holiday.
- Another option is to find holiday clubs or childminders who will do a couple of days per week for you.
- You could also ask other parents and swap play dates to help each other out.
- An alternate solution, if you have the income, is to hire an Aupair to live in and look after the kids over the holidays. This needs to be organised well in advance so that you find the right person and also to make sure that they have time out as well!
- Nowadays people are so busy that you need to book them in advance.
- Start talking to family, friends and start sourcing childminders in the May half term break; a good 6 weeks is normally enough to fit into people’s diaries.
- Holiday clubs need to be booked asap. The adverts for summer break normally come out in the first week back after half term, so try to ask around just before so you can book them up straight away.
How you can work around it:
- Prioritising important and urgent work. This is crucial so you can plan what work needs to be done and what can wait until September.
- If you are employed, talk to colleagues to negotiate extended dates for projects or possibly swapping duties which may help you plan your time better.
- If you work for yourself make sure you only do what you really need to do, remember those ‘swops’ are good for testimonials, but if you don’t get your Client work done, you won’t get paid!
- Use automation whenever you can.
- Write your summer monthly newsletters and your weekly blogs and posts over the next 5 weeks. You can then schedule your newsletters to go out automatically by using software such as Mailchimp, Aweber or Constant Contact.
- Schedule your social media blogs and posts so you can cover the 6 weeks all at once. You can use a tool such as Hootsuite or Buffer to do this simply and for free.
- Make sure your ‘out of office’ is working on your email, it is so important to your company image to make sure you at least show you are reacting to requests, even if it’s just a ‘thank you for your email, I will get back to you within 24 hours’.
- Use ‘autoresponders’ to reply to social media questions and sales requests. This can give you a good 24 hours to respond allowing you to plan your time accordingly.
- Be honest with your customers. If you are honest with them and don’t over-promise, they will be more understanding of you. Tell your customers well in advance that you will be working part time over the summer break, therefore your business will slow down during this time. Think about your current lead times and work out what you can deliver realistically. Then send this out to all your customers and also put it on all your online sites to make sure that any prospect will be able to see it too. This way you will be able to satisfy customer requests sensibly so you don’t have to drag the kids to work with you!
Who do you need to help you?
- Rally the family and friends around you. If your husband or partner can take some time off work, then do it, your business is just as important as their job and to be honest it’s good quality time with the kids for them too, so if you can share it, it makes happier kids, therefore happier parents!
- If your parents can have them for a few hours or a day per week, then don’t be afraid to ask them! They will enjoy their time with their Grandchildren and it will give you some hours or days to work.
- Talk to other parents you know at school and find out what they are doing. Maybe you can do some ‘play dates’ so you have their kids for a day and then they have yours. This could give you a day per week over the course of the break.
- Look at Holiday Clubs or Summer Schools. Your child’s school will normally hand out some leaflets at the beginning of summer term and online sources like your local Council website, or NetMums website are good places to start. Obviously talking to other parents at the school run helps too as someone always knows about a scheme or event happening.
- Another idea is to talk to your child’s friends’ parents and book a holiday club together. This way you can share the drop-off and pick-ups to give both of you more time. Sometimes the schemes do discount for multiple bookings, so check this out too as you can save some money as well as time!
How to do it if you are a single mum:
- Taking care of yourself too! Remember you need some time out, so take advantage of offers to babysit when you can!
- Ask family to help out. It may not have parents around to help, so what about other members of your family? Do you have brothers and sisters or cousins or aunts and uncles around that can help out now and again to free up your time to work.
- Join up with other Mums. As I mentioned before talk to your child’s friends’ parents about swapping play dates and joining up with holiday clubs, this becomes more important for single parents.
- Build a community of parents. Talk to other parents in the playground and build up a group of you who are happy to all help each other out. Make sure everyone is committed to doing their bit and plan a schedule over the holidays for each of you to take a turn with childminding, so you all get a few days off.
- Remember also, some partners work away for long periods of time, effectively leaving their other half as a single parent, so sharing the trials and tribulations of raising children makes life a lot easier. It’s good to talk.
Budgeting for the summer break:
This can be an expensive time as you can feel pressured into taking the kids out and about all the time and some parents want to give their kids as many experiences as possible. Don’t forget though that a lot of the time all they want to do is be with their friends!
One idea is to look at some interesting trips and just plan a few over the break, allowing time in between for the kids just to play at home / in the back garden / at the park with their friends. This allows you to spread the cost evenly over the 6 weeks and still give you some budget for those dratted ice-cream vans!
- Look at NetMums or other Mums website for some free / low-cost days out ideas.
- Collect the coupons from cereal packets or newspapers that give you discounts or free tickets.
- Find out what local sites are near you that you haven’t been to yet.
- If you are going out for the day, take a picnic instead of buying food while you are out.
- If they want to go camping, put the tent out in the back garden for a few days. Make a safe area so they can have a campfire too. They can have a bit of freedom and fun while you teach them important outdoor life skills.
Use the time out to sort out your finances:
The summer break is a great time to re-evaluate your finances. It’s perfect timing in advance of Christmas and it sorts you out in preparation for the winter months when the bills tend to go up.
It’s worth thinking about how your family situation may have changed over the year, especially if you have decided to go back to work now the kids have started school, or you have set yourself up in business. Both of these will have an effect on your insurances, insurance protection and pension.
Is everything up to date? Do you have enough cover for the house and the kids should anything happen to you. It’s highly unlikely, but now you have children, it’s worth making sure.
You may want to get in touch with a financial advisor to help you do this if you are completely unsure about where you stand with your long term plans and insurances. Remember to choose carefully and make sure they are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and they have the right qualifications and experience. Also check if they charge for consultation, as some do. Lastly, make sure you get on with them, you will be sharing some really personal information with them, so if you decide to use them, then you should feel completely comfortable with them. For more details see the FCA website: http://www.fca.org.uk/
This is where Evolution for Women comes in. We have thought about Mum’s budget planning as we tailor our services to help Mums and Families plan for the future. The fact that we are all women too, we believe offers a more feminine point of view to financial queries that come our way and so we can make a much better fit between our Client and the financial solutions that we offer them.
Our Advisors don’t mind coming round while the kids are at home. They understand that needs must, so don’t worry about booking a day appointment in the holidays, it’s the perfect time to get your finances sorted especially if your little one is starting school in September. Their consultations are also at no cost to the client. Have a look at our website for more information: http://evolutionforwomen.co.uk/
For those who just want to check their budgets, we have a planner which is freely available for you to use: http://evolutionforwomen.co.uk/budget-planner
Lastly, remember to fit in some quality time with your kids too! It’s not all work and you need to recharge your batteries as well!