The School summer holiday has arrived and for so many mum’s that brings with it a heady mix of emotions (well the mum’s who admit it and they’re my kinda mums! You know, the real ones!) There are so many reasons why I love the summer with my kids... I love that we’re not clock watching and don’t have that frantic 5 minutes before leaving the house (“have you got your shoes?” or “where’s your water bottle?” ...that “give me the bop it” moment from BBC’s wonderfully inspired take on the reality of motherhood, Motherland.) I love seeing my children relaxed and taking them on day trips to Clumber Park, walks and cake at All Mine Cakes, ice creams at Newfield Dairy Icecream Parlour, catching up with friends who live elsewhere and going on our family holiday (fingers crossed we can still make it to My Little Place on the Hill in a couple of weeks time!) I’ve just come back from a road trip to Brighton to visit my bestie Ellen and meet her new baby. Such a lovely few days away with my kids and good friends! But (and there is a big but) as a mum who owns a small business, the reality is that I’m constantly juggling and dropping allot of balls along the way. I love my Nottingham Jewellery Shop in Southwell. Last Night I Dreamt is my passion and I love that so many people have discovered our contemporary jewellery boutique from around Nottinghamshire, the East Midlands and beyond!
Having chatted to other mumpreneurs they get that running your own business is all consuming. Even when visiting friends I feel pressure to email a customer back or think about my next instagram post or run through my ever increasing to do list. It’s incredibly hard to switch between the two roles of mum and business owner and I often fall short and get things wrong. Having also been a full-time at home mum for many years post my TV career and pre opening my Jewellery boutique, I also get the stresses of being with your children 100% of the time during the school holidays. Some days it feels wonderful and you feel like the best mum in the world and the next day you feel like you’ve shouted too much, let the kids have too much screen time and not enjoyed the day in the slightest. One thing I’m sure of is that being a mum in the summer holidays requires us to be kind to ourselves and to realise it’s ok to drop some balls. Often the pressure we place on ourselves comes from a desire to be perceived as a “perfect mum” by others. Let’s drop the perfection game shall we? None of us are perfect and parenting in the summer, whether you’re fully at home or juggling work and home life, is hard. No mum is doing it perfectly, so therefore let’s sit outside of judging other mums and be free of the judgement of others. I love this quote by a woman I’ve valued reading so much of in recent years, Brene Brown, “Healthy striving is very internally driven, it’s about me setting a goal for myself. It’s about what I think, what I want to achieve, what I want to accomplish. Perfectionism, on the other hand, is 100% externally driven. Perfection is all about ‘what will people think?’ Rather than driving us toward being better and doing better, perfectionism is actually simply a defence mechanism.” Once we care less what others think maybe we can adopt a healthier approach towards the 6 week summer holidays.
I’ve asked some mum’s who inspire me for their take on surviving the summer holidays. Also, later this week I’ll be chatting with Founder of Mummy Shock in Brighton, Ellen Baldwin (the bestie I mentioned earlier) about how we can be a little kinder to ourselves and tips for selfcare over the 6 week summer break.
Summer holidays…ahhhh! Six weeks to juggle and muddle through. The expectation (that I put on myself) to make their time away from school full of holidays, activities, excitement, trips, experiences. Phew, I used to get myself a bit stressed out by it all. But actually with a sketch of a plan, a week of holiday camp here and there (Caunton tennis club have a great camp available and Molly has loved her week at Trent Valley Equestian centre this year) plus help from amazing grandparents we (usually) survive and the girls have a great time.
We try our best to plan some fun filled days off work with the girls. We have rediscovered some great family days out since moving back to Southwell, that don’t cost the earth. Rufford abbey is a firm favourite we take our bikes and some seed for the ducks. Picnic on the grass followed by ice cream from the ice cream farm. Day trips to the beach at Sandilands - a fab family beach around an hour and a half away from Southwell, dog friendly and top fish and chips to round off the day from Waldo’s in Sutton on Sea. Or even just camping in our own garden, a holiday at home. We also embrace the downtime days too with family films and popcorn.
And whilst muddling through the six weeks I remind myself there’s always gin for after bedtime (or before on some days if needed!)
‘How to minimise The dreaded Mum Guilt’ in the school holidays. As a working Mum I try to plan ahead and make sure my 4 and 6 year old have a mix of holiday club, days out and play dates each week. So they are kept busy and entertained. We also try to break our holidays (UK only this year) up. So taking some time away at the start and then near the end. In between all this I work where I can. In the day and in the evenings. The juggle and struggle is real. For all of us!
Managing the business involves a very understanding and proactive partner, along with being super productive within the short spurts of time I get. 1 hour can mean a months worth of product photos being taken or a new product being put on the website. I couldn't do this without my other half, who manages to implement my ideas and keep me on track when i'm pulling my hair out and juggling the kids being in the workshop. A gin once the kids are asleep is also essential in the summer holidays. But on a more wholesome note I love taking the kids out and letting them run free, it makes us all happy!
It took me a while to realise it is hard to do two jobs at the same time. Being a mum is a full time job whether it’s one, two, three or more children but I think you can find time in the day where you can achieve something and keep things moving - try not to waste time as it is precious. It’s only been in my life recently but running has helped a lot, everyone needs time on there own especially if juggling children and a business - especially so! and to keep it all together you need to have a good head and state of mind and exercise helps a lot. It’s not ever going to be perfect and it will be very, very hard at times but you’re in control of your life and your time and building something on your own terms that is important to you is priceless.
When you're self employed, school holidays are always a challenge. I work from home, for the most part, which means that I can be around a lot more - but what this means, is that I have to be more organised with my time, if I want to make sure I get all of my work done. The mum guilt is real, but it’s unhelpful and doesn’t change anything. I try to do most of my work in the mornings, and we always spend at least a little bit of time outside, usually on a walk together. Sometimes, this means getting up earlier than I normally would, to get it all done. Sometimes it means work spilling into the evenings, but having a break in the middle of the day, to make the most of the sunshine. My days are flexible and I try not to be too ambitious when it comes to work during the summer holidays, and prioritise what needs doing, and what can wait. One of our favourite places is Sherwood Pines, where we go for walks or bike rides, as well as the local Southwell skatepark. My son is eight now, which means that he can play by himself whilst I’m working too. I suggest some activities throughout the day, but let’s face it - TV and game consoles feature heavily in our days, and whilst it’s not ideal, I try not to beat myself up about it too much.
The working Mum’s guilt ( and to be clear it is Mum’s not Dad’s) reaches a new high in the summer holidays. The juggle becomes more more challenging as the world and their dog appear to be doing fabulous, exciting things with their brood EVERY DAY according to social media so I try to steer clear of it in school holidays. My gang and I are getting better at managing the hols and they appreciate the chill out days when Mum is “ at the shop” so doesn’t nag them to get dressed but on my days off , we like to “do”. That will usually be something vaguely sporty followed by food! On a rubbish weather day, it will be a Disney film with popcorn with m&ms dropped in it!
As a Mum of three and the Director of a Charity in Brighton, I always look forward to taking a break during the summer holidays; closing the door on the world for a while, and pulling my loved ones in tight. I’m lucky that I get to take the whole summer off with my children, and I really treasure this opportunity. We usually get away for a holiday abroad, and these are some of my happiest memories. However, the reality too is that life isn’t always neat and tidy, and I still find there are tasks that just can’t wait, or work that intrudes on the summer holiday, no matter how boundaried I try to be. I still end up juggling and feeling distracted, stressed and irritable at times. And of course, sometimes six weeks together as a family isn’t all a bed of roses, and the usual fallings out and conflicts arise. I try and manage this by finding out from each person what they would like from the summer and what they need, including myself. I can’t guarantee that everyone can get what they need each day, but at least we can plan it in over the weeks. I find this helps give us some structure and harmony. For me, surviving the summer is also about having people I can ask for help from, when things feel overwhelming or if I start dropping the plates I’m spinning. We hear a lot about being a resilient woman these days, and for me, part of resilience is knowing when we need support and being able to ask for it. That to me is strength, and can be a life-line during the summer break when we have so many competing pressures.
My very first official school summer holiday with my four year old daughter Billie. I'll be balancing my new online launch of on-demand yoga & wellness service, alongside parenting and time to just enjoy some warm weather. A potential recipe for frazzle-a-rama! Boundaries for work and home life are more blurred now, so I've allocated time for myself by attending our outdoor yoga/ pilates classes, and more recently...back to swimming! Fingers crossed that with a week's camping on the south coast (re-discovering holidaying in the UK!) on the horizon there is adventure and relaxation in sight. Having milestones in the diary where I can aim to switch off and chill is super important for me.Perspective is always great too - time with little ones is so precious, so I have to remind myself of this when I start to feel overwhelmed with the juggle of it all. Fortunately I can be flexible when I'm working, so I have to remind myself this is why I chose to work for myself in the first place - so I can enjoy and make more time for the fun parts!
Discover on instagram @buffysees (one of Rebecca’s fave accounts!)
The home made pesto and working out from my garage lasted a total of 3 days for me during lockdown, the intention was there, I amazoned all the gear but sadly my will was hiding somewhere with the banana bread tin!!! And I needed a full 14 hours a day to think up ideas to keep my 7 year old from playing Minecraft all day long or worse still watching other people gaming on YouTube? What is with that? He watches guys In American, who have wives I would like to add! Play what I presumed were kids games? Anyway rather that go on at Felix (said 7 year old) I really don't want to create a ‘I’m against the things you love’ war between us and now term has just rolled into holidays I just come up with crafty fun things to do. A ball of string, a piece of tarpaulin and a pack of water paints…. I sent Felix and Marlie (5) into some trees and said go wild. Its a tiny area but they painted the trees and made a den, it took hours and they loved it. Or mark and route on trees and find our way back, helps when trying to get the kids to go on the 75th walk in a fortnight! Just anything they have some control over (or they think they do!) seems to work for us.
After the chaos this year of juggling work, homeschooling and being a parent during lock down, I decided we all needed an easier summer. Being self employed and working from home meant that I could control how much work I take on and I have slowed it right down for the month of August. With a couple of days of grandparent help in between and being strict with myself over which days are working days and which are not I seem to be getting a good balance so far. We are two weeks in, this may all change!!
One thing that lock down taught me is that my daughter (5) really enjoys the simplest of days and that is something I am trying to remember throughout this summer holiday. Whilst we have already had a short break in North Norfolk and will be enjoying some of our usual fun days out where possible (such as Yorkshire Wildlife Park) a day spent at Southwell Park with a stop off at All Mine Cakes is what she will ask for every time!
Thank you to all of these fabulous Mum’s for their honest take on the summer holidays. One thing I’m certain of is that we can work together to encourage each other more and like Ellen said, realise that real strength is being able to say when you’re struggling and ask for help. Mum’s supporting mum’s, women supporting women...that’s the LNID vibe!
To spur you on and to remind you that you can do this here’s a flash 24 hour 15% off code to use across the entire website (minimum spend £39) Offer ends 8pm Wednesday 5th August. Happy shopping!
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