This is not the episode I intended to record today. I had a thoughtfully planned series of episodes around websites and the Showit platform ready to go, but if you’ve been following along, May and June didn’t really go to plan for me. I had some health issues that made sticking to any kind of plan really difficult, and sometimes impossible. So here we are, talking about how to plan for time off as a homemaker in business. I first had this idea to talk about how to take a vacation specifically because I just got back from a trip this week, but when I really got to thinking about it, there are so many other reasons you may want or need to take time off from your business. Vacations, special events such as weddings or graduations, health and wellness reasons, caring for a loved one, and what I’m calling burnout prevention. These are just a few broad categories I thought of, so if I’ve left off anything you feel is an important reason to take time off from your business, let me know.
The way I want to structure this episode is to first talk about the reasons why you need time off then get into how to strategically plan for that time off. Because if you look at the reasons I listed, some of them are not events you can traditionally plan for such as an unexpected personal health issue like I had a couple of months ago or a loved one suddenly needing daily care. As the saying goes, life happens, and it helps to be prepared for life to happen before it does. Sometimes this is not possible, and that’s okay. We are all just doing the best we can.
To go off on a little tangent before we dive into today’s topic, I had a funny realization a few years into adulthood. I don’t remember exactly what sparked this epiphany if you will, but it’s stuck with me. Nobody knows everything. Not you, not your mom, not your favorite teacher, or whoever you look up to. Sure, there are people that know more than you, but there is nobody that knows everything. Even the most successful businessperson you can think of is still hiring other people to help them with things they aren’t good at or know nothing about. There are mothers that still call their mothers every day asking for advice on what’s going on with their kids. Every mentor has a mentor. Every person is just trying to figure life out one day at a time. So don’t feel bad if you don’t know how to handle a certain situation in life or business. As I said before, we are all just doing the best we can. And you’re doing awesome just by listening to this podcast!
Okay, now that you’ve had a little pep talk, let’s get into the meat of this episode.
These first few reasons are easy to plan for. They’re something you probably already have experience planning for whether you have a business or not.
This type of time off is important for rejuvenating your mind and body, spending quality time with loved ones, creating memories, as well as gaining new inspiration for your business. If you don’t already schedule trips away, take this as your encouragement to do so! It doesn’t have to be a week-long trip to a fancy resort or anything like that. Try going to different locations for a day or two to learn what you and your family enjoy doing together. The purpose of this time off is to recharge your batteries, and the specifics of what that looks like are different for every individual and every family.
Now, even if you’re a spontaneous traveler, you have to plan ahead a little bit if you’re going to be completely turned off from your business during your vacation (which you should be for it to be an effective vacation). Whether you’re headed to the beach for a long weekend or spending the summer in Europe, your business is going to require some planning ahead to make sure things don’t crash and burn while you’re away.
Weddings, graduations, baby showers, birthday parties, anniversaries, holidays, field trips for your kids, and other significant life events are important reasons you want to be off work and present with your people. One of the main reasons women start their own businesses is to have a work-life balance that prioritizes LIFE. Take advantage of that by always giving yourself time off for these special occasions. Luckily, next to vacations, these are the easiest events to plan for because you typically have advance notice months ahead of time.
This is a broad category. Depending on your individual health circumstances and wellness routines, this may be something you can kind of plan for. Things like chiropractic and massage appointments and daily workouts are easy enough to schedule and make time for in your busy day. However, unexpectedly coming down with the flu for 2 weeks is not an event you can plug into your calendar.
As hard as it may seem, we all need to be prioritizing self-care activities such as daily movement and healthful eating habits. Activities like daily walking, light strength training, increased water intake, and taking supplements for our individual needs will help us avoid unwanted consequences like getting sick or pulling muscles that affect our regular life and business activities. This is truly a topic I could do a whole podcast episode about because I believe it is so important no matter what your role in this world is! We can only do as much as our health allows us.
Again, this is nuanced. If you’re a mother, you are already a daily caregiver and you know there are a number of things you may need to schedule time off for. Field trips, homeschooling events, ball games or recitals, wellness checkups, and less fun things like emergency room visits or chronic illness responsibilities. Sometimes though, you may be thrown into caregiving unexpectedly and for an undetermined amount of time. Anything from a terminal illness diagnosis to injury recovery can totally change your day-to-day life. This can be especially detrimental to your lifestyle if you have to drive a significant distance to care for your loved one. Balancing the demands of caregiving on top of your home and business responsibilities can prove challenging for sure.
Aside from personal health and wellness and caregiving responsibilities, burnout prevention is probably the most difficult event to plan for in your business and life. Unless you’ve experienced it before, it may be tough to notice the signs of impending burnout until you’re actively in it. And then it is really hard to know how to get out of it. I think it’s important to talk about burnout as homemakers in business because we have so much to manage on a daily basis that it’s easy for burnout to sneak up on us and then feel like we are alone in it.
Remember, taking time off is not only essential for your personal contentment and well-being but also for the sustainability and growth of your business. By acknowledging and honoring the various reasons for taking time off, you can create a more balanced and fulfilling lifestyle as a homemaker in business.
I’m currently in my 4th year in business and 8th year as a wife, so I’ve had a little time to learn about how work and time off from work affect me and my household. Just to go on a bit of a tangent again, I personally would not choose to go back to working outside of the home again. I’m not saying that it will never happen, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. Even with the added burdens that come with running a business, I am much more relaxed and kind working for myself than I was working for someone else outside my home. Getting to create my own schedule and daily routine is a blessing. Having control over who I get to work with is a blessing. Being able to tend to my home throughout the workday while still bringing in an income is a blessing. But even blessings come with challenges.
One of the challenges I’ve faced is finding the right balance between work and home life. As a homemaker in business, the line between work and personal time can easily blur, especially when your home is also your workplace. It requires intentionality and boundary-setting to ensure that you have dedicated time for yourself and your family. Time off becomes even more crucial in maintaining that balance and preventing burnout.
Taking time off allows me to recharge, reconnect with my loved ones, and pursue hobbies and interests outside of work too. It helps me maintain a healthy perspective and ensures that I bring my best self to both my business and personal life. It also allows me to model a healthy work-life integration for my clients, showing them the importance of intentional self-care and time for rejuvenation.
So, while running a business from home has its unique blessings, it also requires careful consideration of how to structure and navigate time off. It’s an ongoing learning process, but one that is well worth the effort in order to create a harmonious and satisfying life as a homemaker in business.
Okay, now let’s talk strategically about how to actually plan for taking time off from your business. I’ll go over each specific circumstance since the things you need to do to prepare for time off will differ for each reason you need time off. Here we go!
I’m combining vacations and special events because in my life, I do my planning for both the same, and they often overlap.
To set your business up for success during a vacation or special event, it’s important to schedule your vacations and events plans in advance and communicate with your clients and team members (if you have any) about your absence. Set clear expectations regarding your availability and make arrangements to delegate tasks or automate certain processes during your time away. Creating a checklist of pre-vacation tasks, such as notifying clients, setting up email autoresponders, and organizing your workload, can help ensure a smooth transition and allow you to fully enjoy your time off.
Something I personally started doing this year was blocking off time on my calendar when I knew I was going to be taking time off work, regardless of if I had an actual trip planned yet or not. For example, I always take off when my teacher husband is off. So this includes Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, spring break, any random 3-4 day weekends, sometime in the summer, and any other time he’s off during the school year. So far this has been awesome for us! I’m able to let my clients know way ahead of time when I won’t be available so it makes it super easy to plan projects.
If you, your spouse, or your kids don’t have a dedicated calendar of time off – create one! Make note of when you already enjoy being off together, such as during the holidays and in summer, then mark it on your calendar. You don’t have to schedule a vacation immediately, but knowing when you will be off months in advance makes it easier to plan more “spontaneous” trips because you won’t be scrambling to organize your work calendar before taking off.
The beautiful thing about running our own business though is that we CAN take actual spontaneous trips if we so desire. The logistics of it may be a little problematic, but it is doable. You may just end up working a little bit on your trip. And that’s totally okay! There are sacrifices that have to be made sometimes, but overall planning for dedicated time off months in advance will help ensure you get some time away from your computer screen.
Your personal health and wellness is a tricky topic to navigate because there are so many variables. If you are living with a chronic illness, your day-to-day life is going to be vastly different from someone who is simply trying to maintain healthy habits. One thing is for certain though. Prioritizing your health and wellness is crucial for maintaining a sustainable and successful business AND life. As I said previously, we can only do as much as our health allows us.
As far as unexpected illnesses and accidents go, all we can do is have a contingency plan. If you have team members, make sure they know who is going to do what in your absence. Ask yourself what parts of the business are crucial to keep going and what can slide during this time.
For example, I don’t have any team members yet so it’s all on me to make my business run. In the case of emergencies, my active clients are my first priority. Marketing can halt, DMs can be left on read, and business projects can pause. My priority is to those who spend their hard-earned money on me. As soon as I possibly can, I let them know what’s going on and how it’s going to affect them. If appropriate, I’ll extend their project timeline, reschedule it completely, or offer a refund. I want them to know that their trust in me is SO important. I’m not going to lose their trust over something out of my control.
As for daily wellness maintenance, there is so much you can do to make room for activities that encourage good health. Like I’ve already said, the details of what you do are so individual to you that I can’t possibly cover every scenario here, but I can tell you what I do. I don’t have any chronic illnesses or disabilities, so my focus is on maintaining good habits that keep me as healthy as possible so I can DO life without feeling like crap or getting sick constantly.
One of my goals is to exercise 3-5 days a week but walk every day. I get 7-8 hours of sleep every night and nap during the day if needed. Yup, I take naps almost every day. Sometimes it’s a quick 15-minute snooze, sometimes it’s a 2-hour affair in the middle of the afternoon. I’ve learned how to listen to my body and what it needs and that makes a huge difference in my productivity. I know that if I start getting a certain type of headache then I need more sleep. Powering through it isn’t going to help, it’s only going to make that headache worse and I’ll end up being less productive than if I just took the time to stop and rest.
Mondays are my “me” days, meaning I don’t do client work on Mondays. These are the days I create content for my own business, run errands, and schedule appointments. This is when I go to the chiropractor, get wellness checks, and often do longer workouts. It definitely takes time away from your business to maintain these healthy habits, but in my opinion, it actually fuels productivity and creativity. I can feel it in my body if I’ve been at the computer too long without getting up to move. I start getting crabby and stiff if I don’t take care of myself like I should.
Honestly, there’s so much more to this topic, I really should make a separate episode for it! Send me a DM on Instagram @stephanieduke.co if you want me to make that episode.
Caring for a loved one, whether it’s a child, an elderly family member, or someone with special needs, requires careful planning and flexibility. I’m not yet a mother, but I know it’s possible to run a successful business while homeschooling multiple children and caring for a large homestead operation because I see other women doing it. Some of my favorite women doing this beautifully are Jessica Sowards of Roots and Refuge Farm, Jill Ragan of Whispering Willow Farm, and Lisa Bass of Farmhouse on Boone. These are inspiring women whose content I consume regularly because they are doing what I want to do. That may not be what your life looks like or what you want it to look like, but I encourage you to find someone online or in real life that is doing the things you want to do or have to do and gain inspiration from them. Know that you aren’t alone in your struggles and desires.
Caregiving is a nuanced role with all kinds of responsibilities possibly involved. What’s going to help you is evaluating your specific caregiving responsibilities and determining the level of support needed during certain periods. If you’re determined to run a successful business while being a caregiver, either part-time or full-time, you have to make time to run the business. It’s not going to be easy, but it is totally doable. Communicate with your clients or team members about your availability and establish realistic expectations regarding your workload. Explore options for respite care or enlist the help of trusted family members, friends, or professional caregivers to ensure that your loved one’s needs are met while allowing yourself the time and space to manage your business effectively.
This can be a little more challenging if you’re suddenly thrown into the role of a caregiver due to a loved one’s rapidly declining health, accidental injury recovery, unexpected surgery recovery, terminal illness diagnosis, and so many other circumstances. Realistically, it’s going to be hard. You may need to take some actual time completely away from your business, and that’s okay. If you’re not currently in a season of caregiving, you can work to set up systems to support your business in the event you ever are in that role in the future.
Recognizing the signs of burnout and proactively taking time off is essential for your well-being and the sustainability of your business. You should plan regular breaks, mini-vacations, or self-care days to recharge and rejuvenate your mind and body. You can prioritize activities that promote relaxation, such as spending time outside, praying throughout the day, or engaging in hobbies unrelated to your work. Set boundaries around your working hours and create a schedule that allows for adequate rest and leisure time. I talked a lot about these types of tips in the episode 6 Time Management Tips for Homemakers in Business. So go check that out once this episode is over for some additional advice on how to manage your time well to avoid burnout.
You should also regularly assess your workload and consider outsourcing or delegating tasks that are causing excessive stress or overwhelm.
By consciously planning for burnout prevention, you can maintain a healthy work-life balance and avoid long-term exhaustion.
What even is burnout? It’s more than just being tired at the end of the day. It’s a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. It can manifest in various ways for different people, but being aware of some common signs can help you take preventative measures. Some of the more common signs of burnout are:
While I’ve experienced burnout a couple of times, the time that stands out the most to me is when I was teaching for VIPKid, working as an office manager at a dance studio, and running my design business. I was working from midnight to 8 AM Monday through Friday, working at the dance studio 2-7 PM two days a week, and running my business all other hours I was awake. I slept very little, had almost no exercise routine, ate like crap, was increasingly irritable, and had headaches and muscle aches all the time. I was making good money, but it was a miserable period of time. I only got out of it because the teaching job dissolved so I was forced to find other work and was able to slowly transition out of working nights AND days.
Since then, I’ve been a stickler for getting enough sleep, eating better, and moving my body every day. Creating fairly strict boundaries between my working hours and personal time has allowed me to be productive and enjoy life.
You can help yourself avoid burnout by setting boundaries, practicing self-care, outsourcing in your business and your life, taking regular breaks, learning to listen to your body, taking regular time off, and seeking professional help if needed. It’s a slippery slope to burnout once you’re on it. And it honestly takes a long time to recover from it.
I want you to understand that taking regular breaks and prioritizing self-care is not selfish. What’s selfish and prideful is believing that you can do it all at 100% all the time by yourself. We are human. Yes, we were created to work, but we were also created to rest. Our bodies are designed to require rest for proper function. Even God rested on the 7th day. Jesus often withdrew from his work to pray and gain strength from the Lord. Luke 5:16 says, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” I believe if our Lord and Savior needed to rest to avoid burnout, then we mere mortals absolutely need to.
Preventing burnout is an ongoing process that requires self-awareness, self-care, and a commitment to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Setting boundaries and including certain self-care routines throughout your workday is going to help your business, not hinder it. Better to take some time for yourself every day than to get to your breaking point and be unable to work for weeks.
Alright, I hope this episode was so helpful. It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment topic idea I had, and I literally wrote the outline and recorded this the day before it aired! So hopefully it was organized enough for you to get some benefit from it.
Before I sign off, remember, planning for time off requires proactive communication, setting boundaries, and making necessary arrangements with team members and clients. It’s important to be flexible and adaptable as circumstances may change, but by incorporating these planning strategies, you can enjoy well-deserved breaks while ensuring the continued success of your business.
Simply put, I’m a graphic designer that specializes in brand identity design and Showit website design - arguably the most important aspects of your business! I live in central Alabama with my high school band directing hubby, Thomas, on our modest homestead in the country.