The juggle is real, advice for finding work/life balance in the school holidays

I’ve touched on this a bit in both the Coffee Work Sleep newsletter and The Start Up Life mailer, but I got so much good advice from other bloggers, freelancers and business owners I thought I’d share some more in a dedicated blog post. The long stretch of six plus weeks of school holidays every summer is rather overwhelming for the best of us isn’t it? We personally don’t have family nearby to help out and childcare costs can be crippling. In light of this one of the reasons I originally became self employed was so that I could do the school runs and be around in the school holidays. However, the downside of this is trying to balance ever growing work loads and fun with the children throughout the summer break.

On this subject of the work/life balance, I’ve asked around and got a wealth of advice, hints and tips for my fellow creative businesses owners that also happen to be parents.

Finding that work/life balance in the summer holidays

 

Jennifer from online store, WE ARE SCAMP – ‘I try and get business work done/orders made first thing in the morning (even if it means getting up early) so I can have most of the day wit the kids. If anything else needs doing I tend to wait until the evening. I also do try to have the kids at the odd days of summer/sports camp as well which helps too!’

Jennifer’s sister and business partner adds, ‘I like to do some child care swapsies to keep child care costs down.’

Sarah founder of online store, THE EAT WELL – ‘I usually work evenings in the holidays and then buy / beg one day of childcare a week. The rest is done on stolen moments on my phone from farms and ball pits’

Karina of video production company, THE QUICK BROWN FOX – ‘Our littlest one will have a childminder a couple of days a week throughout the summer break, so on those days, our eldest is signed up for camps/all day drop-off activities. The rest of the time, same as the others, I either wake up extra early to schedule email and social media and do admin or work late into the evening + stolen minutes here and there whilst on our days out. Phone calls during the summer are by appointment only. Luckily we’re a husband & wife team though, so everything else (filming and editing) gets done as per normal term time schedule… it’s my side of the business that suffers slightly more.

Emma from designer and Scandi children’s clothing store, DAPPER BABY – ‘We’ve done soft play so far and we’ve had them in the office. We’ve set up an area with toys, crafts and a tv! I work with my husband so one of us will work from home and the other will go in. And my sister who also works for us leaves at 3 so she’s going to come to my house and have them while I go back into work for a few hours. I’m also having her daughter over the holidays.’

Jude, founder of retro gift store, JESSIE JUMBLES – ‘My son has autism, we have a holiday club booked for two weeks but i have to go with him. I take my laptop and work on my website at the centre. I do a lot of work first thing in the morning before our days out and in the evening. It’s so tricky!’ 

Susanne, blogger at GHOSTWRITERMUMMY and business owner, SOCIAL SPARKLE –  ‘Early mornings and late nights haha! I find I work better in the morning before the kids are up and I set a timer, so do as much as I can in those first two hours so I have the rest of the day free. I also always try to set an out of office on emails so that everyone gets a reply letting them know I’ve seen their email and will deal with it asap. I also work with fellow freelancers for cover and days off which are just as important as work days.’

Joanne of social media management company, SOCIAL BODS – I’m not sure I do balance it to be honest! I work when I can, and concentrate on the children when I can’t. I’m lucky in that my business has staff so I can increase their hours through the school holidays. It costs me more money but i see it as survival until September! My eldest is off two weeks earlier than the others so she either comes to the office with me, or goes off for the day with grandparents. My husband works shifts so he can do quite a bit of childcare too. We simply muddle through until September when I can breathe again and think about maybe making a profit.

Katy, digital marketing business owner, MODERN MEDIA, and blogger at MODERN MUMMY – ‘I get up at 5.30 to get a couple of hours of work in before the kids wake up – ditto working in the evenings once they’re in bed. If one gets invited on a play date I will try and get a play date for the other too so that I can have a child free day and really knuckle down and if I have a deadline looming that I’m struggling to meet I’ll arrange a sleepover at Granny & Grandad’s house (harder than it sounds as they live quite a way away). Generally though, I try to reduce my workload for the month of August – and if we have a holiday booked I put my out of office on and enjoy it!’

Jen, of award winning craft and parenting blog, MUM IN THE MADHOUSE – ‘I think that we also need to be honest and admit it is a real juggling act and balls do get dropped! We cannot give 100% to everything and get through the holidays sane IMHO. At the end of the six weeks, I am ready for a break myself.’ 

Helen, KIDDY CHARTS ‘I have struggled with this and my advice is be ruthless with what is achievable and stick to the hours that you give yourself. So if you know you can do five hours a day; working before the kids get up and in the evenings, don’t over commit beyond that. As tough as it is, it’s so important for your sanity. And do as much as you can before the kids break up – depending on what you do this is very possible. So for example, as a freelance social media manager I used to schedule client blogs and social posts. Finally, talk to other mums in the same boat and work together. You look after a friends kids while they work and vice versa. That can massively help you both.’

 

What a lot of fantastic advice!

Are you ready for the summer holiday juggle?

Got any tips to add? 

 

 

morganaThe juggle is real, advice for finding work/life balance in the school holidays
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Craving routine in change and uncertainty

The past five or so weeks have been completely without routine for us and thanks to the on again, off again house move, full of uncertainty and change. Through out this process I’ve discovered something about myself, I’m not actually very good with change. A little change at a time, well, that’s just fine, I can adapt, but changing every part of my usual routine and life, um, yes, not so much. I’d been rolling with the punches for weeks and then I just couldn’t. At risk of being over dramatic and even with such a positive and exciting change of a new house it’s as if symbolically everything in my life was in a box and someone had come along and tipped it upside down and dumped everything out of it. I’m left staring at it all and wondering where I even start to pick it all up again. That’s not even mentioning the physical things that were packed and unpacked!

You’d think that once we moved into our much longed for and anticipated new home that I’d be happy and settled but actually the opposite seemed to happen. After that initial excitement of moving day, the mister was back at work straight away and I had a new house full of boxes and two hyper children with two long weeks of half term stretched ahead. I was left feeling overwhelmed and completely unsettled. As much as I wanted to put my positive pants on and pull myself together I found it a huge struggle. I cringe at admitting that. It sounds so ungrateful. Please don’t misunderstand me, I love my family, my new home and appreciate them all. My sense of overwhelm went beyond that and was amplified by the guilt I had at feeling it when I ‘shouldn’t’. Working for yourself relies on self motivation first and foremost, so if you are distracted or down it massively impacts everything.

Normally I manage school holidays by working on my laptop in the mornings while the girls laze about in their jamas and then we go out and do something fun in the afternoon. Having no wifi threw a rather large spanner in the works of that plan! For fear of being all ‘first world problem-y’ I realised just how much I rely on wifi to not only work (obviously) but to also feel connected. When we had our wifi disconnected in the weeks runnign up t the move I could work in cafes while the girls were at school so while not ideal it was manageable. When you lone work like I do, the internet is a huge part of where my relationships are. As sad as it might sound you lovely lot are like my work colleagues and having no wifi and limited 4G left me feeling rather disconnected in a place where there was a lot of change going on.

It made complete sense put any work plans and all things ‘Little and Fierce‘ on hold while we waited to move and had no wifi yet now we’re in I’m still struggling to get back on track. Of course, I don’t have that ‘dream workspace‘ yet, in fact it’s more like a desk surrounded by, yes, you’ve guessed it, boxes! Trying to run my store has become problematic as we struggle to figure out where I can store stock, pack orders, etc. This whole thing is making me realise how reliant I am on organisation and order to work and function effectively. It’s like I need it for the head space, if that makes sense?

With the girls back at school this week and finally having wifi and a lot less boxes the sense of overwhelm is beginning to lift. I’ve not done this kind of brain dump post for a while, and even while writing it I’ve felt it help me to clear my head a little and get back on track. Finding a new sense of routine and space to work is beginning to excite rather than daunt me. I have so many plans that have been shelved due to not having the headspace for them before the move, I think now is the time for those tentative first steps towards them.

morganaCraving routine in change and uncertainty
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Podcasts For Creative Business Owners and Bloggers – my current favourites

Recently I’ve started delving into the world of podcasts, I know, where have I been, it’s 2017 for goodness sake! Whether it’s on the school pick up, in the car or while on a run I can often be found with my headphones on getting inspired. My new found love and fervour for the podcast has to land squarely with Instagram queen Sara Tasker otherwise known as @MeandOrla and this clever lady is also behind the podcast, Hashtag Authentic. If you follow me on social media you’ll know I’ve been waxing lyrical about Hashtag Authentic on most platforms including here on Little Loves. From that podcast I’ve done a little leapfrog and discovered other creatives and business coaches and their podcasts. I want to share with you my current favourites and I hope you’ll find them all just as inspiring as I do.

Blogtacular

For those that don’t know, Blogtacular is actually an annual creative blogging conference in London headed up by Kat Molesworth. I went to Blogtacular a couple of years ago and loved it but unfortunately due to other commitments I couldn’t make the date last year and this year we’ve already booked to be in Leeds for the triathlon. Boo. Thankfully I can get some inspiration through Kat’s podcasts and the makers, bloggers and influencers that she features.

One of my favourites

Episode 21: Allison Sadler – Allison is a bit like Instagram royalty for me. I’ve followed her for years and loved listening to this podcast as she told the story behind The People Shop, her store in Birmingham. 

– LISTEN HERE –

 

Hashtag Authentic

As I mentioned earlier this podcast is by Sara Tasker, Instagram coach and photographic influencer. Often interview based this podcast is perfect for those wanting to work on their instagram, get inspired or hear from fellow creatives. Whether you’re a blogger or indie business owner or self employed creative there is so much to get from these interviews. Sara’s podcastcurrently comes out weekly, every Wednesday.

Some favourites –

Is blogging still relevant, with Kat Molesworth – I found this episode so interesting both as a blogger and as a business owner. Kat reminds us of the importance of owning our own space and readers and not to be reliant on just one platform.

Avoiding the comparison trap – Sara discusses how we can keep perspective when the fear of failure hits and we get sidetracked by other people’s achievements. I think this is something we can all relate to and I found listening to Sara’s perspective so helpful.

– LISTEN HERE –

 

Tara Swiger – Explore Your Enthusiasm

I found Tara through Hashtag Authentic and oh man am I glad I did! Tara is a business coach based in the US and is bursting with creativity and so much wisdom for makers and creatives. I’ve signed up for one of her courses and got her book on order. Yep. Total fan girl right here.

Some favourites

Should You Work For Free – I’ve already shared this on social media and I think it’s a must for any creative/maker/freelancer/blogger

Long Term vs Short Term Thinking – This is something I often struggle with and find myself swinging between the two. Tara helps us make sure the work we do fits in with our long term goals.

– LISTEN HERE – 

 

Jen Carrington – Make It Happen

I’m not sure how I found this particular podcast I think it was a suggested one on iTunes, however I found it I’m so glad I did. In fact Jen was featured in this weeks Hashtag Authentic talking about her ideal week (find it here). I love how Jen describes her podcast, Make It Happen is a podcast where I share ideas, insights and conversations about building a big-hearted business and living a wholehearted creative life. I find Jen so easy to listen to and I love the way she puts her ideas across.

Some favourites

Five reminders for big hearted creatives who are feeling the business blues – it’s hard to stay focussed on the positives sometimes, especially as a ‘one woman band’. Jen talks us through ways to work through these times and reminds us all how far we’ve come and what we’ve achieved.

Answers to five of the questions my clients always ask me about creative living – Jen talks us through issues like freaking out about money and paying the bills and how to not feel ‘icky’ when we market ourselves and our businesses.

– LISTEN HERE –

 

 

Do you listen to any of these inspiring podcasts?

Got any to add to my list?

 

morganaPodcasts For Creative Business Owners and Bloggers – my current favourites
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From parent blogger to lifestyle blogger making the transition

When I first started blogging back in 2011 I was definitely a parent blogger, or more specifically a ‘mummy blogger’ as much as that term makes me cringe. Having my own little corner of the internet to blog about my baby and toddler, chatting through weaning and potty training and late night feeds was just what I needed. I joined Twitter and spent the small hours of the morning talking to other mums that were also feeding their babies at stupid o’clock while everyone else slept. Twitter and blogging were lifelines for me, they broke the isolation that you can feel as a mum with young children and they opened up a whole new career for me.

When my eldest daughter started school in 2012 I started to think long and hard about blogging and where I wanted to go with it. Up until that point I wrote whatever I wanted, took on a few product and days out reviews but I didn’t see it as a career.  I continued blogging as a ‘parent’ blogger but started to blog less about my eldest girl and as time passed I started to worry about the content I’d put online about her. How would she feel about me telling ‘the world’ about how I potty trained her? Even though I’ve never used my girls names (first or last) while blogging I still felt uncomfortable about it all. I noticed that with the exception of those I’d call friends, I was no longer reading ‘mummy’ blogs. Potty training posts, tips for weaning and parenting was no longer interesting or more importantly, relevant to me anymore. With my youngest daughter growing fast and approaching Reception class in 2015 I knew I had to make a big change, and that’s when I made the decision to leave parent blogging behind.

At the end of 2014 the year before my youngest started school I launched Little and Fierce, my online store, (there’s a whole different blog series to come on that process!) and with this change blogging was definitely on the back burner while I wrestled whether to even bother continuing with it. I attended the blogging conference Blogtacular and talked through my thoughts and ideas about no longer blogging as ‘But why mummy why’ with my friends and fellow bloggers. Just being at the conference reminded me what I loved about blogging and that I still wanted it to be part of my life and that I was right in thinking that I needed to move out of the ‘parent blogging community’. All that summer I started to plan what I wanted my new blog to be and I started to research just how to do it and whether I would I need to completely start from scratch.

By the end of October 2015 I was here in my new place on the internet Coffee Work Sleep Repeat and I’ve never regretted it for a second. 

I don’t have technical tips about redirecting traffic, setting up new websites, and all that jazz as I’m just not that way inclined and have to rely on people to help me whether paid or through favours! What I can help with though is with tips about thinking through your changes and what you want from your new blog. Basically all the things I pulled together and thought through, and in a few instances things I wish I’d done.

So, in light of that if you are a parent blogger thinking of making the change into another blogging niche, whether it be lifestyle, business, food, interiors or even if you don’t know yet, here are some ideas and tips I found helpful.

 

MY TOP TIPS 

 

  • If you’re not sure which direction to take your blog in then think about what you enjoy most about blogging in your current form. Is it reviews? Sharing recipes? Home and interiors posts? Or have you fallen out of love with all of it and want a complete change?

When some people want to make the leap out of parent blogging they have a clear vision of their new direction and others might need to take the time to consider it more. It’s also worth thinking about whether it will be a hobby or a business. If it’s a business think about how you’ll make money from it, the parent blogger sphere may be over saturated but it’s where a lot of big money lives and that may not be the case for your new niche.

  • Think about your new audience, is there enough of an overlap with your current and future one to keep your current social media accounts and just manage the name changeover or is it a completely different audience? Do people follow you as a person or as a blog?

If you are making a complete change from being a ‘mummy’ or ‘daddy’ blogger to say, for example, writing a blog on technical woodworking then I would consider starting afresh but telling your current audience about it and promoting your new direction so any interested parties can follow you over. If you just make the switch by changing your handle you could be left with disgruntled followers and even reported for spam.

As I was still writing my blog from the perspective of being a parent and writing about my life juggling running a business, and the family there is a sufficient cross over so I managed the change by rebranding but kept the social media profiles with the followers built up and saw very little drop off after.

  • Be certain of your new niche and own it.

What kind of blog are you now? Are you following relevant blogs and businesses and networking with the right people? You can’t just rely on parent bloggers being loyal to your new venture, they might not actually be the audience that you’re looking for. How will you get your new content to your new audience? Before you make the leap put together a plan, follow and observe how bloggers in your chosen niche do it. Check out the relevant hashtags, link ups, etc.

  • Use everything you’ve learnt from parent blogging.

If you’ve been successful in parent blogging (whatever success looks like to you, ie review opportunities, paid projects, high profile, hightraffic, etc) you’ll probably have a whole lot of transferable skills at your finger tips. You know how the social media platforms work and what kind of content to share to them. You can probably make pinnable images for Pinterest, use tools like Hootsuite to plan and schedule your social media promotion and much, much more. This gives you such a headstart and is so beneficial to many blogging niches.

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I hope you’ve found these tips helpful?

If you’ve got any questions the do leave a comment or grab me on social media, I’d love to have a chat with you.

 

morganaFrom parent blogger to lifestyle blogger making the transition
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