How to be a stay at home Graphic Designer during the Six Week Holidays
The six week holidays, for me, always conjure thoughts of those hot carefree summer days playing in the park with friends or other siblings and not having any care in the world until that dreaded first day back at school in September where we had to wear new ill-fitting school clothes and shoes that needed to be broken in.
Great days and amazing memories had in those six weeks.
Fast forward to my twenties and thirties and the six-week holidays were just a distant memory and tended to be when I got busier at the advertising agency that I used to work for providing cover while my fellow designers were off on holiday or being on holiday myself.
Nowadays everything has changed. The six week holidays or any school holidays always make me feel a little anxious when they arrive. The main reason is that being my own boss has lots of flexibility to it. I find that the easy option for everyone involved during the six week holidays is that my children tend to spend their holidays at home with me. Which isn’t a problem at all and I really do love spending my time with them. The issue is when it comes to juggling client design work and bored children.
Having the flexibility of having no boss to answer to or not having to attend one place of work during business hours is a fantastic bonus for being essentially your own boss within the creative industry. It’s when you have to juggle two children that are full of energy with goldfish-like attention spans while working to deadlines and creating the best design work you want for your clients is where sometimes flexibility can be hard work and you do crave the simplicity of being employed.
I would like to admit that I am a true veteran of this yearly event, with five years of being my own boss under my belt, but I always find myself worrying a little when we head towards the end of July.
The first year was an eye-opener and children, who get bored at the click of your fingers, can be a challenge in itself whether you work for yourself or don’t. It was a very stressful time as I had just made the jump from full-time employment as an advertising agency Studio Manager to being a self-employed design consultant. I had a few clients who provided me with ongoing work and I was a bit of a newbie when it came to keeping my children constantly entertained and creating what would normally have been distraction-free design and artwork for my clients.
Fast forward five years and over that time I have essentially set myself processes where I can aim to do both and I hope that if you are in the same position as me they may help you in some way…
Being honest with clients
They are human as well and the ones that I have been lucky to work with understand the temporary position I am in and between us we can always negotiate around a project timescale and deliverable milestones.
Agreeing to achievable timescales
Turn-around speed will not be as super duper quick during the six weeks as normal and making sure that I bear that in mind tends to hold me in good stead and I will aim to negotiate a slightly longer delivery deadline, giving me that essential time to dedicate to design.
Not taking on every job that comes in
Yes, I did just say that. Believe me, it really isn’t easy turning down a new project from a potential client or even a current one but I want to make sure that I deliver the best work for my clients and I find that letting them down just simply isn’t an option for me. I save a lot of undue stress by doing this and when I am honest about my situation I tend to find that new clients are more accommodating and sometimes even help come up with a workaround.
It’s a given. When the kids are off evenings tend to be the best time to concentrate on a design project as my other half is back home and she takes over and the kids tend to understand that it is daddy’s design time and they leave me alone about 90% of the time. Sometimes evenings can be the best time to get great work done as you are not distracted from what is going on during the day plus I find that when I am working on a project I can spend some of the daytime thinking through a project which inturn makes me more efficient with my time in the evening.
Enjoying their time off and it is only six weeks in the year
At the end of the day, I always keep in mind that it is their time to enjoy their childhood and the six week holiday isn’t a long amount of time (though it does feel like it at the start of the holidays) and as long as it is managed and prepared for correctly it can be a great time to work for yourself. I consider myself very lucky to have that flexibility to work at what I love doing while spending quality time with the kids that most parents in full-time employment do not have the time to do. It isn’t easy but nor is working for yourself!
The above may not apply and everyone’s situation may be different but the tips above have helped me over the years and even if one of them helps you then it was well worth writing this article.