With the Easter school holidays in full swing, it’s at times like these that the work and childcare balance can be really challenging especially if you are working for yourself.

I myself have a young daughter and I’m always conscious about spending enough time with her and supporting my wife who in turns supports me with the business.

Working for yourself whether it’s self employed, through a limited company, freelancing or contracting can provide the flexibility to work around school runs etc but what about the full time demands of children during the school holidays?  

The responsibilities of work and childcare balance

When all the responsibility is on you to perform the work and bring in the money there’s a tendency to feel like you can never afford to take time off. You don’t have the safety net of an employer continuing to pay you a salary and arrange appropriate cover while you take time off.

Will you be missing out on new business?

Not respond to client enquiries quick enough?  

Get behind on your workloads?

Helping you with the work and childcare balance  

Whilst the correct balance will be different for every person, there are ways to help you improve that balance.

Here are 5 examples.

  1. Childcare

Whilst not necessarily available during school holidays, childcare support can ease the burden during the ‘normal working week’ and allow you to put in extra work hours in advance of time off during school holidays.

If you are worried about the costs of childcare the good news is that you are probably entitled to some free childcare depending on the age of your child.

All 3-4 year olds can get 570 hours of free childcare a year (usually taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks) from an approved childcare provider. This can rise to 1,140 hours (30 hours per week) as long as you’re working and earning at least minimum wage for 16 hours a week.

You may even be entitled to free childcare if you have a 2 year old providing you pass certain criteria.

You can find out more on the free childcare you are entitled to by using the government’s childcare calculator.

  1. Retainer fees

If you don’t already, try to come up with a way of charging retainer fees for your services.

This basically means someone will continue paying you a fee for ongoing support after you have finished the original job.

This is a good way of earning income without actually working during periods you want to take time off.

It’s also a great way to maintain relationships and deliver an improved service.

It may even be worth reducing any initial one off fees you charge on the basis that a lifetime of ongoing fees will be far more valuable.

  1. Diversify your income

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket by relying on you as the only way you make money.

Consider making money in other ways, whether it’s charging for referrals to other specialists who do the work you don’t really want to do or having an online service that can be automated.

Just like retainer fees there are other ways to earn a passive income particularly when it comes to investing.

You can invest your money in a variety of ways with the aim of producing a second income. Think property, stocks and shares and peer to peer lending. These will all provide you with some form of extra income albeit by taking risk.   

  1. Get help

If you are that much in demand and hopefully successful, it may just be the right time to get help.

Yes employing someone could be expensive and there is a whole world of HR that comes with it but you should think of it as an investment. By offloading work that you don’t want to do could free you up not only to take valuable time off but also to concentrate on increasing profits.

You don’t even have to employ someone, you could contract another freelancer which can save you costs and HR hassle.

  1. Use a virtual assistant

It may be too soon and expensive for you to employ someone so why not use a virtual PA who you pay on a pay-as-you go basis during the periods you want time off.

There are lots of Personal Assistants all over the country who can help you out. They will use the best in technology to be able to answer phone calls and do admin as if they were working right next to you. You just pay what you can afford.

You may even find cheaper PAs in foreign countries. South Africa is a good example as they generally speak good English, have the right technology and there isn’t really an issue with time zones.

Sites like Freelancer and Fiverr can also be useful for help on one off jobs at low cost.

I have recently written a couple of eBooks for contractors and freelancers on ‘How to set up your business for under £70’ and how to ‘Maintain your income against all odds’, you can download them here. If you would like  a quick chat to discuss things further, just contact me.

Risk warning:

Stock market linked investments and any income from them, can fall as well as rise and is not guaranteed. Any figures quoted are for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as a forecast or guarantee. Past performance should not be seen as an indication of future returns and clients may get back less than they have invested.