Whether you are a freelancer working from home, or a small business owner who has kids off school, or maybe you don’t have children and just want a holiday without the laptop for a change, summer can be a tough one for trying to get that elusive work-life balance correct.

The school holidays are almost upon us, and as a mum of two small boys, I’m here to share my top tips today on how you can make getting through some long weeks without working/with your attention being pulled elsewhere!

1. Make your own space

I’m a strong believer in creating a workspace that you can close the door on at the end of the day (and shut people out of during important calls!). If you’re working from home, it’s always a good idea to have your own designated working space away from the buzz of home life where you can focus solely on your work. This space is never more needed than during the school holidays when you have kids running around the house all day long. If you don’t have a designated office but need to work, can you book a couple of hours at a co-working space or hotdesk to escape for a few hours?

2. Schedule in time

The school holidays come around every summer, so there’s no excuse (she says…) not to plan ahead. If you know that you want to take time off, or that you will need longer lead times over the summer,  make sure this is factored into your workload in the run-up to the holidays. Try to clear your desk beforehand, and don’t overbook yourself with fast turnaround projects! If you know you’re going to be distracted with childcare all summer, then try and organise your work around it – maybe the kids are in a club one day a week, or you have childcare on Mondays? Block that in your diary to get stuff done!

3. Set expectations

Similarly to the above, make sure you have let clients know the situation in advance. Most will be incredibly understanding, and they will probably be in the same boat!  Set your out of office to remind recipients that you are on ‘summer hours’, make sure that the necessary shipping or lead times are updated, and you could even pop your holiday dates in your email signature just to be sure.

4. Designate and delegate

Take a look at that to-do list. Could someone else cover for a few weeks, or are there things there that aren’t essential? Holidays are the perfect time for setting your priorities and taking a good hard look at what you actually *need* to do! Holiday cover can be easy to arrange, even just to man the inbox whilst you enjoy switching off for a week.

5. Enjoy it!

Perhaps the most important tip of all is that you only get about 10 summer holidays where the kids are the right age to properly enjoy it. Don’t forget to relax and enjoy some quality time whilst you can – so if you don’t work so much during the school holidays then don’t beat yourself up over it. There’s nothing wrong with taking some time off!