When I first became a Virtual PA, my work life balance instantly took a turn for the better. Working from home in a #flexibleworking role meant that I could easily juggle the kids around my workload without any need for childcare. I sailed through June half term on Granny time, garden play and maybe the odd hour in front of a screen (well, I didn’t say I was perfect!).
Then summer holidays started to loom. So I did what any self-respecting PA would do… I diarised. Help from friends and family, plus a scheduled two week holiday and a few days of closing my eyes to the growing pile of lego in the living room got me through.
But schools aren’t designed to let working mums rest on their laurels, and here we are facing another fortnight’s holiday. And while you can be forgiven for thinking everyone hangs up their laptops during the Christmas break, you’ll also find that small businesses are super keen to activate their work-related New Year’s Resolutions on the 2nd January. 9am sharp.
So work-life balance will be on the back burner for a few days while the client kid balance comes into play. The Christmas juggle.
Here are my top tips for managing the experience and making #flexibleworking work for you.
Not working 9 – 5 (Dolly Parton esq)
Holidays are a great opportunity for the kids to chill out and get some rest with lazy mornings and duvet time. And their rest is my toil! I’m always at my desk early and enjoy getting a few hours done before the kids even stir. (Obviously, this is dependent on your children’s ages – I still remember the days when my toddler would appear at the end of the bed at 5.30am asking, “Is it breakfast time, Mummy?”) When the kids go to bed at 8.00pm, I then jump back on my laptop for a while to tie up any loose ends and re-write my to-do list for the following day.
Ask friends and family
If you’re lucky enough to have a good support network, don’t be afraid to ask. Most people don’t mind helping out, and often even like having other children to entertain theirs – especially if you reciprocate the offer; then everyone’s a winner (including the kids). And if your parents or in-laws are local, they’ll often jump at the chance of spoiling their grandchildren for a day too.
Plan your day and stick to it
Kids will usually be happy to entertain themselves for a few hours if they know there’s an exciting activity on its way. Generally, I try to work until 12.00 then have some clear time with the kids – whether that’s lunch and park, or something further afield. However immersed I am in my work, it’s important to always stick to this time plan so that I’m never letting them down – or allowing the guilt to seep in.
Bank your time
Not all my work is time sensitive, so I’ll usually set aside some bits to do over the weekend – which gives my husband the perfect opportunity to take the kids out for a few hours for some quality Daddy time. At least that’s what I keep telling him!
Of course, it is a juggle, and I wouldn’t pretend I’ve got it sussed, but it is so much easier than traditional working that – 8 months after starting this journey – I still feel like all my Christmases have come at once…
Need a hand over the holidays?
If you’re currently doing the Christmas juggle, we can help with virtual support over the holiday season, contact us on 0207 952 1460 or via our website.