Yesterday I was scheduling appointments for November and was suddenly reminded of the nearly three weeks in November and December that there is no school.
No school means my boys are home. All day. And although I cherish the moments we have together since I’m on the road a lot, it can really put a dent in my working schedule. (Not to mention the days when no work will get done because of holiday parties!)
This year I am determined to not let it make me crazy. I’m going to do some preparation to make sure that I have a decent amount of time to do my work without going bonkerz or missing deadlines, and I also plan to keep my expectations reasonable.
Here’s what’s on my Got-To-Do-First-List that helps me organize my Really-Have-To-Do-List:
1. Plan playdates NOW.
I know, all of the holiday breaks are still weeks away, but guess what? Everyone is busy. Book your playdates early! I know when my kids have a playdate I can work in my office while they have fun. Sure, it’s not a time where I can give full attention to highly detailed work, but it’s a great time to catch up on email or your RSS subscriptions while staying near the playing kids.
2. Change Your Working Schedule.
Some of us are early birds, and some of us work late into the night, and some of us prefer working typical business hours. The key to surviving the kids being home for long stretches is to be flexible with your schedule. You might have to get up before they do, or work after they’ve gone to bed. You might have to play with them for an hour or two, and then pop in a movie so you can work a bit. Whatever you do, flexibility is the key.
3. Say No – or at least say LESS.
It can be mighty tempting to accept every invitation, or agree to volunteer for each event, but think it through. How much work time are you willing to give to these events? Most of us that work from home lose income if we don’t work, so while you might want to bake your famous pies for the school bake sale, how much income are you willing to sacrifice?
Trust me, that neighborhood potluck will survive if you bring bakery cookies instead of homemade. Promise.
If your partner is able to take some of the kid wrangling off your hands, go for it – particularly if that partner has paid vacation time (most of us work at home moms do not have paid time off, alas!). Otherwise, make other accommodations. Maybe let the kids do some of the holiday decorating.
If you have a big project, it might be worth hiring a housecleaner for the holiday season so you can give that work over to someone else. Order groceries delivered instead of going to the store. There’s plenty of stuff that doesn’t have to be done by YOU.
5. Have reasonable expectations, and let some stuff go.
The thing about the holidays is they are FUN. It’s fun to shop, to see family, and to enjoy traditions. Postpone projects that don’t need to be finished right away if you can. Be sure to keep your workload reasonable for the time of year – you’ll likely find that your clients are doing the same.
If your work is seasonal and you can’t postpone, be sure to schedule post-holiday time off. And when it comes to your schedule, make sure you include time for both yourself AND your family.
After all, this is the most wonderful time of the year, right?