How to go on holiday as a small business owner and mum!

On the second anniversary of quitting corporate life and setting up my own business, I’ve had a pretty interesting couple of years, doing some things amazingly well and absolutely sucking at others. One thing I’ve not been particularly successful at going is on holiday. I mean, we love being away, in the countryside, in the tent (in fact I’m writing this from the tent, watching the sun come up in glorious Bellingham, Northumberland), but I am totally unable to switch off. So, my question is… how do you switch off when you have a business and are a mum and how do you get through the summer holidays unscathed?

1. Going away with kids is so not relaxing

I mean Michelle, you’re not at a spa retreat drinking champagne and getting pampered – you are away with kids. Kids who have grown up together, competitive and dramatic weirdos who seem to love each other one minute and then are down each other’s throats the next… it’s not relaxing. The sad thing is the other child’s mum and I REALLY like each other! We’ve been going away camping together since these two were 6 months old, but it should be getting easier to chill now they are this age… actually, we’ve seen enough of Kevin and Perry behaviour from these two that we are coming to the realisation that it might get worse before it gets better. ? Love summer holidays! (Still, I can’t whinge too much – he’s going off with this grandparents for a week and his dad for two weeks, so that’s probably going to be less fun for me than him being here!)

2. Leave the laptop at home

So last year, when I was on holiday the (former) business partner and I had to spend a couple of days writing a mega proposal, so was fully expecting similar requests this time. So I brought the laptop (to be fair, if I hadn’t then this blog post wouldn’t have been written). Whilst I’ve been here I’ve been chasing invoices, booking in meeting requests, responding to emails, taking calls, coaching clients (whilst for some reason, completing ignoring LinkedIn). I was asked to pop a proposal over the hour before I was supposed to be leaving the house (which I did). Could this stuff have not have waited a week until I was home? People in jobs are expected to go on holiday and switch the work phone off… sadly I was not one of those either, I used to keep track of what was going on with emails… You are a Psychologist, NOT a doctor, people are not going to die if you wait a couple of days to get back to them. Put your out of office on (I really must google how to do that…) and get back to people when you get back.

 

3. Go somewhere ‘off grid’

So, I know myself pretty well and as an ENFP (MBTI horoscope personality type), the major downside to this particular type is that I am soooooo easily distracted… an amusing case in point… my mate in Dublin just messaged me and I had to immediately respond to her. Squirrel!! This is why all my notifications on my phone get switched off to stop this distraction. So, maybe we should go somewhere, for a couple of days that has no 4G and no internet… oh and no electricity. What if we did go off grid… would that be fun? Or would the anxiety of missing what was going on in the world, what was happening in the news, what my friends are doing, what clients want… make it not so much fun. Could be an interesting experiment. Or absolute torture. Hmmm… maybe the problem is more serious than I thought…

4. Hand over some business stuff to someone else

So, this seems like a really sensible solution, and one I really want to get to eventually… Get someone to answer the phone/respond to emails/manage your social media while you are away. I’m sure it wouldn’t cost the earth and would take a whole bunch of the stress away. The thought of planning for it, writing processes and procedures down and handing my business over to someone else (and there are people I would totally trust to do it!) fills me with dread. When did I turn into such a bloody control freak? Freedom is one of my main drivers… I need to run this business, not the other way round. I need to read Tim Ferris’s 4-hour work week again for instructions on how to do this!

I need help!

I think in writing this post it’s blatantly clear that I have some clear weaknesses in this area… how can I learn to relax and ‘switch off’? I think as Psychologists, we are driven to help other people before we help ourselves, but you can’t pour from an empty cup. And having an empty cup filled with anxiety and depression is not much fun at all. I certainly need to take care of me more!

I have 2 more trips planned this summer – one with the boy and one without… now I have a plan, let’s hope I am able to switch off, relax and enjoy the next break a bit more. When I get home I’m going to take myself off to a spa day, no phones, no laptops, no kids! I’m sure the business will survive without me. How do business owners cope with the summer holidays and childerbeasts? What tips can you share with me?

*Goes off to check spa deals… who is joining me?

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  1. Michelle it’s easy once you put your mind to it. You hit the nail on the head with your “out of office reply”. Nail that first for your own peace of mind and not with any old standard message, do a really “nice out of office” that makes the reader go “ah bless she’s on her hols” as oppose to FFS that’s that sketch knackered. And make sure your return date is listed as 48 hours after you actually return. You’d be amazed how much you can catch up with in 48 hours .

    Give everyone that matters advanced noticed that you’re going in a coverall text, email or whatsapp and that you wont be contactable, then go.

    I do take my lap top in case I want to use it, not because I have to use it and I don’t take my phone. We use hubby’s for family and personal communication with the folks back home, but no work.

    Amazingly and in truth, even if you didn’t do any of that forward planning, ” newsflash” nobody really cares Michelle, you’ll return from holiday to discover the sky didn’t fall in, nobody died( hopefully) and you still have a business. Yes you may have a bit of catch up but so what. The less tech you take the less you will be affected. Its straight forward, it’s up to you to disconnect and once you’ve done that, your time with the childerbeasts gets easier.

    Give yourself permission to switch off as opposed to worrying about who might be trying to get hold of you, or what invoices you have to fill, then the jollies will really have a chance of being jollier. Turn it off Michelle, do a “digital detox” its even better for you than a spa day!

    Enjoy your holidays my lovely, all of them!

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