Hope this blog post finds you well and enjoying the summer.
I wanted to jot down some thoughts today, mainly as a pep talk and reminder to myself as I struggle to find the balance between work and family during the school summer holidays.
If my ramblings resonate with at least one other creative business owner and parent, then it will have been worth the moments I set aside to write this...
This is my 7th school summer holiday as a freelance illustrator, designer and seller on Etsy & Folksy. The great thing about being freelance at this time of year, is the flexibility to work when you want. It's possible to have days out when you want, as long as the work gets done - which often means a much more erratic working pattern. Which I can't grumble about, I know I'm in a very fortunate situation as I see many of my employed friends struggle to juggle children and work throughout the school summer holidays. However, I do want to acknowledge in this post, that all this disrupted working does take it's toll on being creative - which is vital to a business like mine.
The thing I have learnt most of all over the years, is that in order to sustain a successful creative business, it does require a lot of routine and organisation to ensure that when you 'show up' to work, you are ready & motivated to get going and that your mind is free to just get on with creating. So, as a reminder to myself and hopefully as some tips for others working in a similar way, here's what I've learnt, to give myself the best chance of a bit of routine and balance to cope throughout the summer...
1. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN & TAKE COMPLETE DAYS OFF : When work life and home life overlap, try and get it all scheduled in on your planner and block out full days for the family and full days for work. Let your family know which days are your work days, and which are fun family days. Likewise, keep your clients informed about time you intend to take off. As the saying goes, "You can do anything, but you can't do everything'. Your best chance of coping is to try and manage everyone's expectations and they will be more likely to support your efforts.
Image; Tyntesfield National Trust, North Somerset - fantastic adventure play in the woods for kids and stunning gardens for dose of floral inspiration.
2. MAKE SURE YOU DO TAKE COMPLETE DAYS OFF - NO EXCUSES: You'll never get those moments with your family back. Besides, the most important thing I have learnt from having complete days off (which means absolutely no checking for messages from the beach!), is that it clears my mind and helps me find inspiration much easier. So these days off are never really days off because it's these experiences that give you the vision and ideas to take your creative work forward. Take them, you need them, your family needs them and your business needs you to have them too...
3. KEEP WORK DAY ROUTINES - GET DRESSED AND SHOW UP: On those days you have allocated to work, it's more important than ever to keep those as normal and productive as possible. It's always tempting, when you freelance and you see your kids hanging around in their PJs to join them and do the work 'later'. The thing with 'later' is that it just leads to having to stay up working all night the day before a deadline whilst ugly crying and generally feeling sorry for yourself. If you have made clear days off, then work days are exactly for that -for work! No need to feel any 'mum guilt', these work days help pay for those precious days out. So set your alarm, get up, get dressed, comb your hair, clean your teeth, put on your professional pants and get on with it! Illustrators and designers can't sell what they haven't created...
4. TAKE BREAKS & TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF - I think working days in the school summer holidays require a higher level of efficiency than usual, mainly because they are fewer and further between than a regular working week, and with children in the house, many interruptions are inevitable. We all know, to be fit to cope, it's important to eat well, sleep well, take regular breaks, get some air, stretch and move and importantly, talk to other humans! When you feel well and your needs have been met, an hour at your desk can produce far, far more than 5 hours at your desk when you're not 100%.
That's my summer pep talk over and as I say, I hope it helps just one other person.
Now I need to get back to it, as it's definitely a work day today.
Talking of work, throughout this post I have added some images of some of the things I have been working on recently. This month has been busy with graphic design commissions (which I can't show), but also some portfolio building and adapting my nature guide designs into gift wraps. Hopefully these gift wraps will be available for wholesale orders soon, the coastal birds repeat above is just a taste of work in progress. I will showcase them all on here when they are ready.
Also above, you will notice a plate with my Orchard Fruits design on it - that is now available from Art Rookie - a print on demand site similar to Society 6, but based here in the UK. You can find this design and couple of others one there now.
Have a lovely summer!