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EPs and the Holiday Season: A Day at the Beach?

© 1998, 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 like
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 and through Amazon.

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