I would PAY for an extra hour in the day!

August 5, 2009 at 12:36 pm | Posted in Something for Mum, Work & Life | Leave a comment
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Following on from the great advice from Antonia Chitty on setting up your own business as a mum, we have some top tips on separating work and family life.

Antonia Chitty Headshot

Having returned to work when the bear was just five and a half months old, I have a constant battle with myself about dedicating enough time to my family, and juggling this with trying to make my small PR business a success.  A lot of mums will know the feeling – I need to earn a living but wish I could be at a soft play centre, swimming, doing messy play, baking, reading with the children every day.  Some of us are full time mums, and being a mum is the hardest (and most satisfying job in the world), but for those who do that fine balancing act each day, here is some expert advice from Antonia!

Advice for home working mums on separating home and family time

I’ve been working for myself for the last six years, and one of my biggest issues, still, is learning to switch off. I love what I do, and it can be easy just keep working into the evening, but I know that you can’t do that every night and still stay on top the next day.  Here I share some of my most effective suggestions to ensure that you get family time, work time AND me time.

It is easy to find that, running a business and a family, you feel permanently stretched. Being busy is one thing: most mums feel tired by the end of the day. But it is quite another to find that you have been working in every spare minute and just don’t have the energy to keep going. So, you need to divide up your time.

Take a few minutes now, sit back, and have a little day dream. If you had 5 minutes to yourself, what would you do with it? What about if you had a couple of hours? Would you have a long soak in the bath, or go to the shops unhindered by the kids? And if you had a whole day, where would you go and who would you spend time with? Make a few notes about these dreams of what you’d like to do in your spare time, and then look at your diary. Now book in some time for yourself, just in the same way that you book in the kids dental appointments, parent’s evenings and the school play. Make sure you note down your plan for the time, even if it is simply to have a luxurious bath and do your nails. Then, do all you can to keep that time for yourself. Try to have a few hours every week booked in to look after yourself. It will make it easier to look after the family during the rest of the week.

With regard to time to spend on the business, I find planning ahead works well. Set yourself ‘work hours’. I’m not suggesting you have to do a 9 to 5. Instead, pick the hours that suit you. When I only had one child I used to work for 2-3 hours each morning while she was at playgroup. Now I’ve got three, my work is timed around when the baby naps. But I still have a clear idea of when is work time and when I stop working.

For many mumpreneurs the time between 3 and 7 is the toughest time of the day. Tired grumpy kids need food, attention and baths. Make things easier on yourself by switching off the computer at this time. Try letting the phone go to the answer machine if you’re in the middle of something too. By just concentrating on the kids at this time everything can run much more smoothly.

My final tip is about making the transition between work time and family time. Everyone finds it difficult to change from one to the other. So, if your mind is full of all the uncompleted jobs at 2.45, take 15 minutes before collecting the kids to make a list in a notebook. Give yourself a pat on the back for all the things you have achieved, and then close the notebook until you next plan to work. Go and do the school run with your mind clear to concentrate on family time.

Antonia Chitty is author of the Mumpreneur Guide’s Start Your own Business Book, available from1 September from www.themumpreneurguide.co.uk, www.amazon.co.uk and to order from any bookstore.

By the way, I’ve just booked an afternoon of shopping, a leg wax and a girly drink in the diary and feel better already!

On Antonia’s point about note books and to do lists – it’s amazing how good a nice new note pad from Paperchase can make you feel – don’t forget a sparkly pen too – small things can work wonders (for me anyway, but I love stationery almost as much as I love cleaning…I know, must get out more!).

Thanks Antonia!

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