How to manage the school holidays…

…and still have a good time!

I don’t know about you but the forthcoming school holidays always fill me with joy and dread. Joy that I get to spend time with my gorgeous girl but dread because I still need to find time to work.

Mum and Daughter

Full disclosure – I take a financial hit during the holidays. I’m not truly working – instead I reduce my hours massively and take on new projects that start in September. I posted about how I save before the holidays in this post and I’m currently beavering away to try and set up work from September.

I do this because I never want to feel torn between choosing work over time with my daughter. I am really LUCKY that I can do this because of my freelance lifestyle. My work tends to be on a project by project basis. I’m not forgetting this and we all know the benefits AND the negatives of a freelance gig but it is a choice I am currently choosing to make.

So during the holidays I do:

Working on the move
  1. Check my email – everyday and I answer anything pressing from my phone.
  2. Work for an hour every morning and in the evening.
  3. Check in with clients – wish them a happy summer or just remind them that I’m ready to start in September
  4. Network through meeting with ex-colleagues for a drink or coffee when I’m child-free.
  5. Plan a day every fortnight when I am child-free and can binge on work stuff/admin
  6. Revise any plans/goals for the Autumn
  7. Assess my financials – where am I in invoicing/earnings.

I can thoroughly recommend that you have a look at the article here by Skills you need website.

Ms I Can Do It All (my thoughts on Emotional Labour)

Or…why I am my own worst enemy.

It has been a busy month – World Book Day, International Women’s Day London Book Fair and my daughter’s birthday. For a freelance book publicist, this is a lot of work in a very short space of time and include party planning for my daughter’s birthday, a lot of mental energy required. With my husband also working in publishing, it means that both our schedules are stretched.

Last week I found myself getting more and more angry with my husband. He was just getting himself ready for the Book Fair – sorting out his clothes, paperwork etc… he leaves on the Saturday and returns on the Thursday evening. Whereas I was commuting between London and our home in Leicestershire, staying overnight just twice. This was in a bid to give our daughter a little stability, but also because I didn’t want to be away from her for too long.

My busy London week meant I spent a lot of time at the train station
My busy London week meant I spent a lot of time at the train station

That isn’t something to get cross about until I realised that I was also organising childcare, dog care, cleaning the house, organising all my daughters extra curricular activities and getting all the laundry done so that she had everything she needed a week in advance. Plus getting myself prepared for the most important week for my business.

Technically it wasn’t his fault, it is just the way our household has been run. I ‘semi-retired’ when we moved to the countryside to settle Amy into the area and I wasn’t earning much. It made sense for me to take on the running of the house while he was at work. Now though… my business is growing year on year and I’m still doing the grunt work in our home. We hadn’t really discussed this and how he could start to help – I assumed he would realise and he assumed that I was handling it. He hadn’t appreciated my workload and the mental energy required.

Commuting to and from London during the week meant long hours...
Commuting to and from London during the week meant long hours…

I wouldn’t say there was a row but I simmered about it before telling him that I’d had enough. I told him that I couldn’t believe that he was just going to leave on the Saturday and assume that it was okay. He was shocked at my outburst but immediately offered to help. But guess what I did? Yup, I refused and told him I could do it. Argh!!!! No wonder he was confused.

Am I the only one that feels by admitting that I need help that it makes me a failure as a wife and a mother? Because that is how I felt – I needed help because I was drowning under the To Do list and needed a lifeboat.

Fed Up by Gemma Hartley is worth a look at after reading the article I mention
Fed Up by Gemma Hartley is worth a look at after reading the article I mention

If I’m not explaining this feeling very well then I fully recommend that you have a look at this article by Gemma Hartley about ‘Emotional Labour‘. It sums up everything I feel/felt. I even forwarded the article to my husband to help clarify my thoughts. (yes, he did read it…eventually)

So after a week away, we have come up with a new way of working our household which involves:

  1. A shared calendar – I now put all of Amy’s activities, school trips and my work meetings in one online calendar that we can both see.
  2. List sharing – one for food, another for birthdays etc… with initials by who is doing what.
  3. At the weekend we plan our meals for the week – this is really useful because it reminds us who will be home or if there is a late meeting etc…
  4. Job delegation – what we expect the other to do during the week. I’ll do the laundry but he will help with the ironing, takes the bins out and cook dinner on a Thursday. (Weekends – we both cook)
  5. Sharing the cleaning schedule – I follow the Organised Mum Method (do give it a go – it has changed my life) and he is now aware of what needs to happen each day.
  6. I will tell him about incoming work deadlines so he is aware that I may be looking for extra support at home

None of these are really that major but I do think that I need to be able to ask for help and learn to accept it. We are learning that our roles in the home are ever-changing and that we need to take a moment every so often to make sure the other is okay. I also need to get over the fact that a lot of time, I will be the one that says what needs doing because I’m at home. My husband isn’t a mindreader and I need to remember that!

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