I love the school holidays – 7 whole weeks without the daily commute to school (it’s an hour’s round trip for me each time!), not to mention lots of days out and fun times with my daughter.
However, the school holidays can be a very stressful time for those of us who are responsible for childcare AND work from home. I’ve gathered together my top tips for a stress-free, productive and prosperous school holidays for photographers.
1. Plan Plan Plan
It’s really important for me to include my daughter in our planning for the school holidays. We’ll discuss activities that she’d like to do including days out, swimming and cinema trips, pyjama days, meeting up with friends, picnics in the garden, craft activities and movies at home. We’ll then sit and put these on our wall planner – she understands the priority is to put these activities in first, before my work tasks fill the gaps! I then add at least 2 hours of work into each day in the calendar – somedays that’s all I get, other days I can manage a full day!
2. Start Early
The advantage of the school holidays is the late start to the day. I take full advantage of this by snatching a couple of hours to work in peace every day before the rest of the family is up. It’s amazing what you can get done before 9am! I don’t mind working after hours at any time of the year. If it affords me time with my family during the day then I feel it’s a fair sacrifice for me. If you don’t usually work late then you might consider an hour at the end of the day once the kids are in bed is necessary during the holidays, but set yourself a limit and make sure you switch off to allow yourself to relax too.
3. Helping Hands
The chances are you will know other mums and dads whose working arrangements are similar to your own. If you team up you can take each other’s children for the day regularly during the holidays to give yourselves entire days, childfree. This is perfect for scheduling sessions so that you don’t have to be clock watching. If you have family and friends living close by who enjoy spending time with your children you will also be able to schedule a couple of hours or a morning or afternoon into your planner while they have fun with the kids. Again you can repay the favour for them should they need some free time over the holidays.
4. Child Labour!
My daughter thinks it’s great fun to play offices with me. Pretending to scribble out orders or make ‘important’ telephone calls can give you an hour to catch up on your admin or editing. (A portrait session takes me just under an hour to edit). Older children might enjoy doing some actual work such as filing or packing orders to earn some pocket money for holiday activities.
Technology can be our best friend during the holidays. Use your email autoresponder to let people know you are out of the office and will reply to emails within 24 hours. Schedule your social media posts for a few days at a time or use one of your early starts to schedule for the week. I also allow more iPad and TV time during the holidays. A movie afternoon curled up on the sofa with the curtains drawn and popcorn on tap provides me with 2 hours un-interrupted worktime and educational games on the iPad give me chance to make and receive telephone calls at the drop of a hat.
Before you know it the school holidays will be over and the house will be a peaceful place again. And no doubt you will be missing the laughter, fun and games so above all, try and enjoy the holidays while they last!