We just get into our working or studying groove and then sure enough it’s holiday time again. Lots of glorious time to spend with the kids, obvs. Ah those halcyon days with hours of craft activities, lazy afternoons in the park and slap up meals in local eateries. Oh hang on a sec if you’re a normal mum with a normal kid these days never quite go to plan do they (not that we tell Instagram that!). But more pressingly if you’re working or perhaps training over the holidays there is the small matter of fitting that in too. Some days finding the time to work or study might feel impossible on top of everything else but fear not there is a way to master the juggle with the finesse of Holly Willoughby.
So where better to turn to for advice than the mighty DMCollective - our army of over 400 Digital Mums who have done the training, are living the #WorkThatWorks dream and doing the juggle daily. The ace thing about #WorkThatWorks and freelancing is you don’t necessarily have to take official holiday to get things done, although of course it’s nice to! Follow our top tips on how to squeeze in work and/or training during the holidays and WIN.
“Find the ultimate cheat”
“Planning is super important. But there are a lot of seat-of-pants days here! I have a school age son who can go to holiday clubs but a younger one who can't. My partner takes one day off a week during holidays to give me a clear day to get stuff done. I do swaps with friends and have their kids too, so they can work, and then they do the same for me. On days where it doesn't go to plan my ultimate cheat is booking 3 tickets for the school holidays cinema kids screenings (only £2.50 per ticket) taking my boys and my computer and sitting in the back row so we don't disturb others. The kids love the film, and I get a good amount of work done! Then of course there is work after their bedtime.”
“Play going to work”
“I did my training over the last summer holiday and October half term and juggled it with my (then) one and five year olds. When my youngest was at nursery twice a week, my eldest would 'come to work' with me in the mornings. I would pack her a bag the night before with lots of surprise activities like coloring, drawing, stickers, counting, writing games etc and she would sit at the end of my desk and do her 'work'. She loved it and it meant I could crack on relatively guilt-free!”
“Forget the 9-5”
“To really make the juggle work it’s a lot about getting out of the 9-5 mentality. We don’t need to be working or studying during these hours necessarily. I used to get up at 5am to do the course including during holidays. My little one only started nursery in January so I had him at home. I also used to work in the evenings and do a lot of pre scheduling. I also think having Buffer and other great apps on your phone means you can do little and often when you are on the go. I think it's a lot about finding when you can be most productive and going with that - kids bedtimes often the case!”
“Try the 10 minute sprint approach”
I stole this straight from a parenting course. My kids usually let me get more work done if I switch off my phone and computer sometimes and only play with them. We do ten minute sprints regularly where they are totally in charge and have my complete attention. It then makes the next hour or so much easier. Basically once they start asking 'play with me' you've missed the boat - you need to be proactive with this strategy. Another tip is to manage what it might be like if you need to make a client call. Practice the scenario again and again with a friend or your mum so you lay the groundwork. Role play with your child, then practice making the call and keep it brief, then praise afterwards. I found what happened before was I got really stressed trying to make calls and they picked up on that but this has really helped!”
“Have a strict routine”
“When I did the Digital Mums training my campaign launched in the summer holidays and I actually found everything easier as there was no school run or homework and so no strict bedtime and after school routine, which freed up lots of time. I made it work by giving myself a strict routine, so I was up and working by 7am and let the kids (aged 5 and 7 at the time) watch TV, have breakfast and play until 9.30. That way I always got 2.5 hours in every morning (17 hours just using this time by the end of the week). I then swapped out days with another freelance mum. She'd take my kids on Tuesdays from 10 to 3 and I'd have hers Thursdays 10 to 3pm which gave me another five hours. Campaign wise it was actually brilliant as all my users were online so I had better reach and engagement. Training during the holidays landed up being a blessing rather than a curse!”
“Don’t feel guilty about the TV”
Life is too short to worry too much about a little bit of extra screen time when you’re busy working or training. Peppa Pig is my friend and ultimately it gives me a little bit more time to get things done. The reality is my career choice and way of working is as much for my kids’ benefit as my own and I don’t shy away from telling the children that I need to work. I like to think that I’m setting a really good example for them; that I work or study but can be there for them too. I’m bettering myself and ultimately achieving #WorkThatWorks and that can only be a good thing.
“Make mornings your friend“
“I tend to wake up well before the kids and am up working at 5am whilst simultaneously praying they don’t decide to get up then as well. For later in the day I store up their favourite programmes to buy myself an hour or so. Then I’ll usually take half a day at the weekend while the other half takes the kids out. That still leaves the rest of the day for family time and more importantly lots of wine for the times it all goes wrong!”
“Work for a set hour every day”
“Both my kids are school age so I always instill a working hour from 8.30-9.30 every morning to catch up on emails and small tasks. The kids know this in advance and they read / watch tv / fight and argue in whispers upstairs. The children get used to it and they actually quite like it, as sometimes I think they miss the school routine a bit.”
“Mix it up ”
“Of course it really depends on the age of your kids, what time they get up/go to bed and if they still have afternoon naps (mine were 1.5 and 3.5 when I did the training, and are now 2.5 and 4.5). During the training I scheduled all my content over the weekend (when hubby was there to look after the kids) and then did some engagement on the go during the week. It's important to ensure you have all the relevant apps on your phone, such as Facebook page manager and if using Instagram, apps like Later are great. I also bought my son a tablet so I could do some work whilst he was playing and my youngest one had an afternoon nap (pre-kids I always said that my children would watch very little TV and would never ever have a tablet until they were 8!). Or I would sit at the kitchen table with my son, give him a sticker book/colouring pad, and do some work whilst he was playing (but that's because he is quite easy; this would never work with my youngest one!).”
“Rope in help”
My youngest was just six months when I started the training. I’ve always been a night owl so working long into the night is not really a problem for me. But occasionally I also felt I needed blocks of time to get things done. One of my solutions was I roped my parents into a holiday to Cornwall and they were amazing as they took the kids for full days so I could catch up. Now that I’m working I've done some swaps with a local mum friend, although it did mean having 4 young children for 2 days a week! It has given me a whole new respect for childminders!
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