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How to manage being a contractor when the kids are off school

Aimee Horgan-Briggs

Aimee Horgan-Briggs | Marketing Assistant

Wednesday 22nd Aug, 2018

Is it possible to successfully juggle working for yourself with the six-week school summer holidays?

Working as a limited company contractor and getting to be your own boss has many perks; you get to choose your own working hours and days, and can even set your own competitive pay rates, meaning it's an incredibly flexible way of working. But what about when the school summer holidays roll around?

We're now right in the middle of the six-week break, and it's likely that you will have been struggling to juggle devoting time to working on assignments for your clients with entertaining the kids. And if you do manage to snatch some time to yourself, when you can go and work out of the house for a few hours, you've most probably found that many cafes are overrun with children enjoying their break from school too.

So, how can you still work successfully as a limited company contractor or freelancer while the kids are off school? What tips can you learn to bear in mind for future half-terms?

Contracting vs childcare: Finding a balance

Being cooped up in the house all day is no good for kids with their seemingly endless supplies of energy. They need to get outside and exercise both their bodies and their curiosity to stop you all from being driven mad indoors.

But you need to find a destination for your outings that suits you all; while soft play centres and parks are great for the kids, they're not conducive to a productive hour or two of work for you. However, by heading somewhere a little quieter like a library, you'll be able to get some work in while the kids immerse themselves in the books.

Look online for activities run by local groups, such as arts and crafts, where you'll be able to take the kids and leave them to some supervised fun and creativity while you sit nearby and crack on with some work.

It might take a little compromise from both sides for a few weeks, but it's good for the children to see you working hard to set an example, they'll be having fun, and you'll be keeping on top of your workload as best as you can.

Manage expectations with your clients

Naturally, there may be times throughout the school holidays when your schedule may be disrupted due to unforeseen stuff coming up with the kids, and you could end up getting behind.

But to stop your clients from feeling let down or hassling you for extra work when you're already really busy, make sure you set realistic expectations with them. Let them know you'll be at home with the kids for some of the school holidays so you won't be able to meet any deadlines before at least mid-September. Then, if you do deliver ahead of this, you'll be exceeding their expectations.

It would be a good idea to permanently have an out of office response set while the kids are off, explaining there may be a delay in replying to your emails, just so that existing and prospective clients know you're available, just not contactable around the clock.

Clients are more likely to respect you in the long run for this - it'll help you to form a good working relationship where expectations are set and met, rather than you accidentally ignoring them for six weeks due to being so busy.

Draw on help and advice

Keeping on top of limited company admin can be time-consuming at the best of times, but help is required more than ever when you're busy with the kids. Family time is precious, and you don't want to miss out on that because you've got to dig through receipts and sort your company accounts out at the end of an already busy day.

This is where PayStream’s limited company service, My PSC comes into play. Providing advice and support with limited company admin and allowing you to view your company finances in real-time, My PSC is PayStream's dedicated accountancy service for limited company contractors.

Downloading the My PSC app means you've got 24/7 access to your real-time company finances, so you'll be able to stay on top of your admin throughout the summer, and remain compliant with HMRC.