• Jenny Stallard

How to survive the school holidays as a freelancer... by freelance parents!

Updated: 2 days ago

It's the summer holidays in the UK! And for all self-employed and freelance parents, that means a whole new juggle...

So how do you keep working, keep planning, keep on top of things, while the children are at home?

Since I'm not a parent, I asked self-employed parents for their insight and found so much amazing advice - I hope these insights will help you with your planning, and to navigate the holidays whatever your 'freelance'.

And perhaps the biggest part of advice I heard from parents in response to a Tweet was to slow down a little, to make time, to enjoy it and be part of it if you can. To be with your children as well as working, and to make sure you don't work the whole time. That might mean working harder before and after the holidays, as some revealed.

It might mean working earlier in the day so you can spend the rest of it with them. It's about time management, and also managing expectations - those of your children, your clients and yourself.

A key part for many working parents is holiday clubs... But it's about how you manage the timing and cost, too. Many shared that they do slow down the workload in the holiday time, and that some even get their kids involved in the business (genius - let's raise the entrepreneurs of tomorrow!).

Another great piece of advice was to manage the client's expectations, too.

Below is a selection of the advice - each link is to the expert's Twitter and there are more links to other resources at the end.

Relying on your fellow freelancers for support, camaraderie and to speak to when you need to vent!

Mel Hunter, Freelance Journalist and Copywriter says: "I have a child with special needs, so holiday/childcare options even more limited. I'm hyper organised about booking in any clubs I can as early as possible. I also email key clients explaining the circumstances. Get up 5am to get key work done before kids TV switched off at 10am!"

Rebecca Scambler Graphic Designer added: "Single mum here. I work in the mornings and evenings through the holidays & spend the days doing things with my daughter, scheduling in meetings that coincide with play dates & tv/lego/play time. A weekly plan broken down into daily jobs is essential for me & no weekend working!"

Sally Coffey is a freelance writer, and says: "My top tip is to manage expectations – I've made it clear to clients that the summer holidays are busy for me and I won't always be available and I have also booked some time off that I am being very firm about."

Hannah Rowe works in marketing, PR and event management. She says: "It's about balance, but understanding is key. Clients understand I have kids so can't fulfil last-minute requests as quickly, I try to get lots done pre-holiday. Kids understand that if they want nice holidays and after-school activities mum has to work a bit to pay for it. I'd also make the point that it takes 2 to make the children (although I acknowledge lots of parents are on their own), so the non-self-employed party could help with taking some leave to make it easier.

Tiffany Grant, a financial coach, says: "My biggest tip is to get them involved. They have made appearances on my lives, helped me with content ideas, and helped with some admin tasks. I also keep my working hours (meetings and interviews) minimal while they are here."

Jo Breeze says: "Booking in a few one-day holiday clubs… but the rest of the time I’m trying to use the flexibility of freelancing as a feature, not a bug, and am planning to enjoy hanging out with the kids and going on adventures! (And mostly working in the evenings)"

Jo Liliford, Brand strategist, is a believer in finding your freelance friends to help, too:

"Gather a few freelancer mates facing a similar dilemma and take it in turns to each have the kids for half days - the kids love it, you can plan some fun on the half day you have them - but you get a few focused days, too."

Amy Ragland is a freelance financial writer and has advice on managing the cost of the holidays: "Day camps are a great option but can be expensive. I have a dedicated "summer camp" savings account. I have automatic transfers set up to deposit into the account weekly throughout the year. Then it's not such a financial strain to send kids to camp for multiple weeks. On the weeks they don't go to camp, they sleep in. I tend to start my work day early and keep my afternoons free for us to go to the waterpark or something else fun."

Graphic Designer Rebecca Scambler says: "Single mum here. I work in the mornings and evenings through the holidays & spend the days doing things with my daughter, scheduling in meetings that coincide with play dates & tv/lego/playtime. A weekly plan broken down into daily jobs is essential for me & no weekend working!"

Entrepreneur Liana Fricker has a great phrase she uses, 'Unparenting'. "We put some much pressure on ourselves to entertain our kids 24/7 that they, literally, never learn to cope with boredom. So this week my kids are responsible for managing their own time because if not now - when?"

Sheron Boyle, a writer, adds: "Go easy on yourself. these summer hols won't last forever while they are young so enjoy the time with them. is there a summer school they can do a day a week or a week? let them chill, watch tv. they need to recharge too."

Brand Strategist Emily Penny says simply:

"Pack the work into the rest of the year and take a long break."

Further reading:

This blog from Dee Primett has lots of tips

The latest newsletter from Freelancing For Journalists is all about taking a break as a freelancer

Try the Whatever the Weather Worksheet from Helen Hill at Be the Future Earth

From the Freelance Feels podcast:

Freelance Mum Faye Dicker on creating and finding a community that works for you as a freelance parent

Gemma Bray, AKA The Organised Mum, on juggling work life and 'every day' life

Thank you to ALL those who commented - come find me on Twitter @freelance_feels to read the full thread and join in in future comment pieces!

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