Half term, half working? 5 ways to combine freelancing with school holidays


So it is half term and I am hiding in my office. One of my children has scarpered to a friend’s house. The  other is silently  arranging his dragon collection. I’ve got them well trained. If you’re a parent who works from home, and those pesky schools insist on closing from time to time, how do you combine the two? This is what I find helps:

  • Limiting the work you take on
    I will do some writing work this week, but I don’t schedule coaching calls when the children are about. You need 100% concentration for coaching, and that’s hard to give when somewhere, off in the distance, a child is calling you to come and show them how to do the Time Warp.
  • Accept that you will get less done
    It would be daft (not to say unfair on everyone involved) to assume that it will be business as usual during the school holidays. Keep your goals modest and hopefully your stress levels will do likewise.
  • Do at least a little marketing
    The search for new work never really stops. I am aiming to get out an issue of my newsletter this week, and will also drop in and out of Twitter. Often it’s when you’re not looking for new opportunities that they drop into your lap; so weirdly, weeks like this can often be when you’re at your most attractive (work wise, that is). Plus a bit of low level marketing will help you feel like you’ve not let things drop entirely.
  • Find a job the whole family can do
    Admittedly this is easier if, like me, you are a parenting journalist, and more challenging if you are a welder or brain surgeon. On Wednesday we’re off to a Cupcake Masterclass, and I’ll be filming and writing about the event. I’ve sold it to the Juniors as a fun day out at Fortnum & Mason, when really they are acting as my unpaid interns. So essentially I am lying to, and exploiting, my children, which I think is good preparation for their adult lives. And since there’s cake involved, they won’t be too fussed.
  • Take a break yourself
    Your average freelancer can be the worst sort of employer, demanding weekend working and no real breaks away from the screen. Take some time off and blame the kids. Plus when you do get back to work, it will seem a lot easier than entertaining bored offspring ever was.

pic: Flickr, db photographs



  • Emily O

    These are good tips, I’ve got three children and only the eldest is at school the other two are at home with me full-time. There’s a lot of juggling involved and I find I do most of my work in the evenings (luckily I’m able to). Another tip I’d add is schedule some twitter updates, I know that sounds impersonal but if you schedule in links you’d normally tweet in real time anyway then you can drop in now and again for chatty stuff and not have to update as much as normal. As part of my work I manage four twitter accounts as well as my personal one so this works well for me. And it’s a good tip not to expect too much of yourself during school holidays!

  • Good tip Emily! Nearly the end of half term now, hope you survived

  • I like the idea of exploiting your offspring. I guess they owe it to you after years of parenting?! Anyway, it’s hardly exploitation when there’s cake involved…

  • @Mother Badger – Yes of course, how can it be exploitation if they get cake? It’s a win/win situation

    @southoftherivermum – I think you have to say no sometimes, which is no bad thing because it makes you look successful and in demand (that’s the theory anyway)

  • It is true when you say accept that you will get less done. when I was first freelancing I found it hard to say no but you end up disappointing everyone, not least yourself. I try to put in extra hours the weeks before and after so I feel justified in taking it a bit easier in the holidays!

  • Heather Bestel

    Hi Joanne,

    I’m Heather from Mums Got A Business – lovely to find this post via the Blog Carnival.

    I do agree about setting your expectations a little lower over the holidays. Otherwise I start to resent the time I’m spending doing other things than working.

    When other mums ring to arrange play dates, I’m thinking about how much work time that may eat into.

    I love to just give myself permission to have a totally break and fully immerse myself into family time.

    It usually ends up that I get work done as my daughter always gets invited to lots of sleepovers during the holidays – and I can work then.

    And I don’t mind reciprocating as by the second week, I’ve usually got much more done than I expected.

    Best wishes
    Heather x

  • Hi Heather – thanks so much for your tips. I find with play dates you get double the benefit. Your child will be occupied when they have a friend visiting, plus hopefully they will be invited back, thus freeing you up a bit more. At least that’s the theory…