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Navigating the Juggle: Lessons Learned as an Introverted Mum with a Business

As April unfolds and the two-week school holiday break looms ahead, I'm gearing up for another round of planning and juggling.

As the primary caregiver for our whānau, my two kids, aged 8 and 9, are my top priority. That's precisely why I chose the path of self-employment—to enjoy quality time with my tamariki, especially while they're young.
But let's be real, it's far from easy.

Every holiday period is a reminder that finding what works for us is a continuous process of trial and error. It's about tweaking our routine to better manage the chaos that inevitably ensues when work and family life collide.

Here are some of the valuable lessons I've learned along the way:

Lowering Expectations

Whenever, the kids are home for extended periods (e.g. holidays, illness) I've learned to lower my expectations.

Firstly on the home front - accepting that my house will be overrun with Lego, every dish will be used (and left for me to clean), screen time will skyrocket, and my pantry will be emptied faster than I can fill it.

On the work front - I know that my capacity is impacted. I avoid scheduling client calls when the kids will be home and likely to interrupt or need my attention. I create pockets of time for creative work, so I have the mental space to do my best work.
I try to focus on the needle moving pieces of my business when I know I don't have as many hours to execute.

Sharing Childcare Duties

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that couldn't be more true during school holidays.

For the longest time I wore my "busy mum" badge with a sense of pride. During school holidays I would pack our days with fun activities and squeeze in work around the edges, so that my business wouldn't suffer. In reality I felt burnt out and overwhelmed.

I've realised to be the best version of mum, wife, business owner and human, I need a solid chunk of child-free hours. To achieve that I needed to ask for help more often than I was.

My help during school holidays comes in the form of my husband, our mums and our siblings.

Our siblings, who work more traditional 9-5 jobs, also face the logistical childcare puzzle during school holidays. To alleviate some of the stress for each family, we try to pool available adults to cover childcare as an extended whānau.

Not only does this give the kids valuable cousin, aunty/uncle and grandparent bonding time, but it also lightens the mental load for each parent involved.

I've also connected with parent friends from school who make similar arrangements within their friend groups.

Investing in Childcare

While I cherish spending time with my kids, I've also come to appreciate the value of school holiday programs. These can be expensive but I've started including a portion of the cost in my business budget. 
As my kids develop interests in sports and art, these programs offer them a chance to explore, socialise, and gain some independence—all while giving me the space I need to focus on work.
Even just a few days of school holiday programs can help keep my business moving forward and create some fun memories for my kids.

Setting Client Expectations

As my availability shifts during the holidays, I make it a point to communicate openly with my clients. Setting realistic expectations ensures a smoother transition and maintains trust in our working relationship.

Connecting with Like-Minded Biz Owners

Finding other business owners who understand the juggle is invaluable. Whether it's through networking meetings or virtual coffee chats, connecting with fellow parents provides support and solidarity.

Planning for Fun

Amidst the hustle and bustle, it's important to carve out moments of joy and connection. I involve my kids in brainstorming mini adventures or special outings that we can enjoy as a family unit, creating special memories.

As the school holidays approach, I'm reminded of the importance of flexibility, adaptability, and grace. While the juggle may be real, so too are the moments of joy, connection, and growth that come with embracing this beautiful chaos. Here's to making the most of the school holiday season, one adventure at a time.


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