EPs and the
Holiday Season: A Day at the Beach?
by Lisa M. Roberts
OK, OK, Halloween is over. Everyone else
on the block has their scarecrows, skeletons, pumpkin faces,
ghosts and various Halloween what-not all put back in boxes and
up in their attics. Ours, of course, are still greeting passers-by.
So what else is new? We're the last to put our holiday trimmings
up and the last to pull them down. It's a given every year.
This is because the holiday season
always feels like the surge of an ocean wave to me -- I'm never
quite ready for it, but once I'm "in" I manage to go
with the flow. And have fun. The kids, of course, push me right
in...ready or not. They're bringing home seasonal school projects
way before I've even taken a look at the calendar to see what
holiday falls on what day this year. They're planning costumes,
Thanksgiving desserts, wish lists and loud noise-making devices
while I stand by our kitchen window, fixated at the summer toys
still laying in the backyard. (Did summer really come and go?
Any chance I can get it back?)
Naturally, this time of year
is also the peak business season for most Entrepreneurial Parents. Whether you sell products or services,
it's likely your workload is growing more and more demanding.
That's because most consumers have their credit cards and checkbooks
on-the-ready for holiday purchases -- whether it be gift-buying,
house-decorating or menu-planning. If you're selling products,
orders are on the rise, leading to an increase in order processing,
fulfillment and invoicing. And if your clientele are fellow business
owners, they are feeling cramped for time just like you, and
are ready to outsource whatever they can. If you're selling a
service, being at the right place at the right time will yield
unexpected accounts, and this time of year the right place is
nearly everywhere your clients are...and the right time is now!
So it's not at all unusual to
find yourself, as an EP, pondering
how you're going to spruce up your living room for holiday company
at the same time your home office turns into a veritable disaster
area. If that's where you're at, take heart. There are
practical ways you can reconcile your work and family life during
the holiday season. Here are a few tips in a nutshell:
. . . S I
M P L I F Y . . .
Simplifying during the holidays
can be an especially hard task for EPs because they value both
their family life and professional life so highly. It's difficult
to think about shaving off a few holiday traditions and not being
such a perfectionist about certain business tasks just when you
feel the pull to shift into high gear for both. But if you want
to live to see the New Year with a smile on your face, it's wise
to cut back anyway. First think about where and what and how,
then do it. For instance, if you're hosting Thanksgiving
Dinner, do you really need to have a pumpkin, pecan AND apple
pie for dessert? If you send free newsletters to your customers
or clients every month, do they have to be as content-impressive
as during other months (after all, who has the time to read now
anyway)? And so on.
. . . D E
L E G A T E . . .
Like in Thanksgiving pies to
your guests. (OK, I admit...I'm hosting Thanksgiving Dinner this
year and have pies on the brain.) And be sure to pass on household
cleaning chores to all family members, since it's not just you
alone who may be hosting company but your whole family. Also,
don't be shy about outsourcing the following: business tasks
bookkeeping, data entry, copywriting and troubleshooting; parent
tasks like homework checking to older siblings and caregiving
to childcare providers; and finally, homeowner tasks like fall
trimming and leaf raking.
. . . M O
V E O N . . .
This one is for me (anyone else
out there with black bat silhouettes still in the window??).
It's time to take down the Halloween decorations and move on
to Thanskgiving preparations. I've already taken the first step
by saying "begone!" to all that Halloween candy. With
four children, we have four times more candy than we need in
this house!! The other day I asked my kids to pick out 10 of
their favorite candies each from their respective plastic pumpkins,
and then think about donating the rest to the children in hospitals
who didn't get a chance to trick or treat. Each of them went
for the idea surprisingly well! My mother has the bag of treasures
under lock and key in her house, and will make the phone calls
of inquiry. Once all traces of this year's Halloween are safely
in our memories and nowhere else, we can await the next wave
of holiday activity with fresh thoughts.
Like a day at the beach, by the
end of this holiday season there's a good chance you'll be exhausted
-- yet feel healthy, alive and invigorated too! Here's to a New
Year's Day that will find each of us out cold on the living room
sofa...and wearing smiles during our hard-earned rest.
- Lisa Roberts is the mother of four,
owner of The
Entrepreneurial Parent, LLC and the author of How to Raise A Family &
A Career Under One Roof: A Parent's Guide to Home Business
(Bookhaven Press, 1997). Copies of her book are available for
purchase at EP