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Balancing Your Event Business as a Parent During COVID-19

The understatement of the year – we’re in very tough times right now. Between our events being cancelled, potential layoffs, and dreading the news that tomorrow could hold, schools are closing left and right. Needless to say, indefinite closings and remote classes are unprecedented, as is everything else that COVID-19 has brought along.

But a free event calendar doesn’t really equal free time. In fact, a lot of us in the industry are trying to financially plan for an unclear future and working from home with full schedules and a staff to continue managing. On top of this, we’ve suddenly become full-time stay-at-home parents in a matter of days.

So this begs the question: how can we get through balancing family life and a career during a pandemic?

Scheduling tips

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For those that may already have an at-home office, you’re well-accustomed to a daily routine, but that equation likely doesn’t include a child that’s now relying on online remote learning and

looking to you for the structure that they’d normally have at school. Personally speaking, I have lived and breathed by block scheduling, but every family has different needs.

“Time before the kids are up is dedicated to workouts, morning routines, and any emergency emails,” says Laura Maddox, owner and partner of Magnolia Celebrates. “We have an estimated amount of time for each activity [during the day] to keep us from going too long on any one thing, but we’re also flexible should a conference call, awesome learning opportunity, or other need arise.”

As a single, working mother of 6, JoAnn Gregoli of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli notes that her workflow is often best paired with the study schedule of your kids. “Working on my computer, I am able to respond to emails while overseeing the study hours. If they are old enough, sit down the children and tell them what you need from them to help you get work done. Explain to them that you’re a team and you’re tackling this as a family.”

She also adds: “Plan out a schedule for the day, from meal time to class time to playtime. You must put a schedule in place for the entire family during these times, and everyone should know it and try to stick to it. Set goals and keep the kids busy!”

Staying organized

Here’s the kicker – we can create a well-intentioned schedule and stick to it, but what about keeping everyone organized and afloat? A good place to start may be by dissecting what really works in your event business. For example, how do you make sure that expectations for your staff are met, or that all of your appointments, notes, and emails are managed and accessible?

I have zero shame in doubling up on Google Suite for my family and home life as well; you’d be amazed at how well our shared Google Calendar keeps us all on track. Canva is just as great for creating graphics and more visually-appealing checklists for the little ones.

However, the bulk of staying organized comes with establishing expectations and holding your team and your family responsible. The term ‘a well-oiled machine’ has never been more important.

“I’ve learned from being in business for 16 years that boundaries are critical for survival and sanity,” says Michelle Loretta of Sage Wedding Pros. “It was clear to me that, in our situation, the expectations set by my son’s school was impossible for me to keep up with. I kindly let the teacher know what we could commit to (completing only 3 assignments each day). This relieved me of feeling like an underachiever, driving Lucas crazy with pressure, and freed me up to work during a very intense time in our industry. I’m glad I advocated for my family’s sanity.”

Resources to lean on

Schools are implementing their own programs for online classes (Outschool is likely what your kids are using, since classes are free), but there are a ton of supplemental websites and activities to help keep them in the learning mindset.

According to José Rolón, owner of José Rolón Events: “I’m up an hour before the kids get up so I can check and answer a few emails, and then it’s time for the kids to eat breakfast and be homeschooled. After they have lunch, they get to hang out with Mo Willems for some Lunch Doodles, and then they go out to recess.” He notes that StarFall and Scholastic are perfect additions to the curriculum, too!

It’s a great idea to keep their day as close to the structure of a school day as possible, meaning working in time to release some energy in between learning. In our house, we love GoNoodle to keep our kid moving.

Remember, we’re all in this together. There’s no hard-and-fast guidebook to a perfect routine or learning setting, but setting your family (and your business) up for success with resources and consistent schedules will make a world of a difference while we get through this rough patch.

 

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

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Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.

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