Summer vacation is in full force, and many mommy entrepreneurs are feeling completely overwhelmed. Nothing strikes more fear into working moms than “schools out for the summer!” (heck, I think even stay-at-home moms feel the pain!), and a few weeks in, many of us are wondering when the madness will end. We’re anxiously counting down the days until we can drop our little ones off at school and wave goodbye, before we return to our quiet homes to have a few hours of uninterrupted business time. Which makes us feel like horrible human beings, because we should be overjoyed to spend extra time with our kids.
While there’s no getting around the fact that when your kids are home, your schedule needs to change, there are some things you can do to make your summer feel more “summer lovin’, had me a blast” and less “it’s just another manic Monday (every single day)”!
1. CREATE A SCHEDULE, AND DON’T LET ANY MINI HUMANS ALTER IT
Most of us are creatures of habit, children included. Not only do we all function better when we’re on a schedule, but children will be more likely to leave us alone when we need them to if we condition them to believe that when mom says she needs an hour to work, they can’t interrupt us unless they’re in need of an ambulance.
Easier said than done, I know. But I promise, if you set boundaries with your children, and stick to them, they will learn to go with the program.
This is easier in older children, since you can reason with them a little better, but it works for the young ones, too! Since my daughter was in kindergarten, I laid out a detailed schedule each on Sunday night, so I knew just what needed to get done, and how I could manage to keep my child out of my hair in the process.
In addition to writing down my work schedule every Sunday night, I wrote down what she would be doing, too. A craft, watching a movie, playing in the sand box, whatever it took for me to get a little peace. Pinterest and I became BFF’s in those days; I would find fun activities for her to do that didn’t involve much help from me, and would let her have at it. Sometimes, I’d leave her to watch a movie, and would find her clinging to my leg before I got halfway down the hallway to my office, so I would bring my laptop into the living room, make a fort out of couch cushions and pillows, and work there while she watched Lady and the Tramp for the 2,345th time.
The other thing that helped tremendously, and still works, is adding more quality time to the to do list. When I’m multi-tasking all day long, I’m never really giving anything (or anyone) my undivided attention. When my little lady looks over at me and sees me on my phone instead of watching her nail her dismount when she jumps off the swing at the park, it makes her feel like crap. Which is the last thing I ever want her to feel. Similarly, when I’m spending the day at the zoo with her and a client emails me with a question, my hurried, half paying attention answer that I quickly type back before heading into the penguin exhibit probably isn’t going to be my best work.
Choose to give 110% of yourself to what you’re doing, as much as humanly possible.
My daughter knows that if she gives me three hours in the morning to talk with my clients, we will spend a few hours at the pool, or getting our nails done, or watching a movie snuggled up together. The phone will be put on silent, and no one is infringing on her time. She loves it, and she’s much more willing to leave me alone for another couple of hours before dinner so I can get the rest of my work done.
This year, we filled out this Summer Bucket List so that we each got to lay out what fun things we wanted to do while my daughter was out of school. I take Mondays off during the summer, so she gets excited to check something off of our list if she had beed good about respecting my time the previous week! Bribery is my other BFF.
2. BECOME A MASTER PRIORITIZER
Truth is, sometimes you have to just learn to be ok with not getting everything done.
I know that between June and September, my schedule will be rocked, so I don’t put pressure on myself to launch new services or products. I double up on writing emails for my email sequence in the fall and winter, so that I don’t have to keep up with them as much during the summer.
When small tasks don’t get done, give yourself a pass. If you spend the day at the zoo and forget to post that article to FB that you wanted to schedule, who cares. It’s not the end of the world, and you’re likely not going to lose any fans because you didn’t post anything on June 28th. Everyone else is probably too busy to even notice!
When I write out my schedule for the upcoming week, I list everything I want to accomplish, and put dots next to the things that absolutely need to get done (client calls, invoicing, dr. appointments, etc.). Anything without a star I know can be pushed aside if need be, without disrupting my business or my personal life.
Often, the thing that gets pushed back day after day for me is laundry. I tend to wash each load six times because I never seem to find the time to move things from the washer to the dryer.
And that is OK! As long as we have clean clothes to wear, it’s all good!
Whenever you’re unsure about where something falls on the priority list, ask yourself if you’ll remember that something didn’t get done in three months. If you take a pass on going to a movie with a girlfriend when you’re really overwhelmed, will you regret not seeing Magic Mike, even though you got SO much work done? Negative. Will you remember the week that went by where you didn’t dust your ceiling fans? No. Your time is precious. Treat it as such!
Sometimes, the key to navigating through summer vacation without incident is as easy as being honest. Honest with yourself, with your clients, and with your loved ones.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, in fact I think it shows strength when you’re willing to say “hey, I’m feeling overwhelmed and need a break!”
If you need a day to catch up on work (or laundry!), ask someone to babysit for the day. Your friends and family would probably be delighted to help ease your stress! If you have a partner, ask them to take over kid duty when they get home, so that you can take your laptop to Starbucks and hammer out a few blog posts.
If need be, delegate some chores! Kids are great free labor. My daughter has a heavier chore load in the summer, and takes over some of the small tasks that I typically do every day (vacuuming, dusting, etc.).
Aside from throwing up the white flag when you’re feeling frazzled, it’s important to be honest with your clients/customers. Don’t tell them they’ll have their product in 3 days, if that turnaround time will practically kill you and ensure you spend every waking moment trying desperately to get orders out on time. If a reasonable timeline is more like 4 days, consider changing your timeline. If that’s not possible, look for other places you can cut back, or think about hiring someone to come in a few hours a week to help you.
If you typically have people asking favors of you (Can you look at my website? What types of flowers would you recommend I pair with such and such? Would you be willing to come speak at my event?), start saying no. Be honest about your feelings, and if the thought of saying yes makes you want to cry, say no! Just be sure you keep it classy. Be polite, don’t lie, and come up with a compromise if you can think of one (and it’s something you’d be happy to do, if you had more time). Perhaps you can’t do free speaking gigs in the summer, but you’d be happy to schedule something for October. Say so!
You deserve to spend the summer soaking up the sun, and basking in the glow of your happy children, so cut yourself some slack and enjoy it! There will come a day when your kiddos sleep until noon, and then want to spend the day with their friends, and you’ll find yourself pulling out old photos and wishing you had just one more summer of cannonballs and couch forts.
Don’t forget to schedule in some mom-only time, too! August is the perfect time for margaritas on the patio with your girlfriends. Live it up, you deserve it!
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