Finding a balance...

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Well hello there! How are you? Did you have a great Summer? Long time no speak I know, but I always promised myself that if I launched this blog in May I'd take the summer holidays off. The plan was to write a blog post telling you that but things got soooo hectic with the end of term, getting my book off to my editor and tying up client projects that unfortunately that never happened.

So now is the time to tell you that from now on I plan to post at least once, hopefully twice a week if time permits, and in the school holidays I won't be posting. And that's what I really wanted to discuss with you all.

It's so important to me to spend time with the children while they're small. I realise that not everyone has the luxury to be able to pick and choose when they work (and I'm not sure I've got that completely down either...) but I sold my business so that I would have more control over when I worked and so that I could just mess about at home and really enjoy them while they're small.

And we had a great time. We camped on the Isle of Wight, we had a nature weekend, we took a trip to Devon as well as a few to the New Forest where I grew up, and we had lots of friends and family to stay. It was just amazing.

How do you find the balance?

What I hadn't quite sussed out was how to deal with emails and also enquiries for work that came in over the holidays. I just hadn't thought that one through. I've never been one to check emails whilst on holiday (what is that about? Why are we so indispensable that we can't just let an email wait a week or two?!!) but I've always had the luxury of a team who I knew would pick up everything whilst I was taking a break.

Without that team I did feel the need to check emails and also to follow up on enquiries, schedule a couple of Skype calls and before I knew it, I was trying to put together presentations and proposals (and beating myself up for it) when I really had promised myself and the kids that I'd be theirs.

And this isn't just me being a prima donna and not wanting to work. At least I don't think it is? I think it's important that as a parent I'm present. I don't want to use TV as a babysitter and I don't want to compromise the quality of my work whilst the children are running around. Which means I either need to get childcare sorted or be more disciplined (mostly with myself) about when I'm available.

My own quest for balance

So here's my plan. Next year I'm just going to be more upfront with people about the fact I'm taking time off to be with my children. I hope that won't come across as unprofessional, I hope it's a sign of my commitment to the quality of my work.

I'm going to put an Out of Office on my emails. I can't believe I didn't think of this before! My friend Rona suggested I do this mid way through the holidays and it made such a difference! I put my mobile number on there so people could contact me if they really wanted to but it meant that I didn't need to check my emails every couple of hours - sometimes I left them for a week or so (horreur!).

I'm going to pick two days in the middle of the holidays where I will arrange some childcare and embrace the working. I LOVE what I do and I was lucky enough to receive some incredible opportunities this summer. Really, mind-blowingly, incredible. I didn't want to turn them down and this way I can schedule work into those two days in a guilt free way.

I'm also going to embrace the fact that not working and having a clear head enables me to think big. Really big. I have exciting plans bubbling away!

How do you make it work?

So I would LOVE to hear from you. How do you make it work? How do you handle emails, scheduling projects and children? This is all new territory to me so I'd love your help ;-)