For most of us, there’s nothing more meaningful than family and business in life. But, unfortunately, both require a lot from a person. And as a result, it can be challenging to balance them.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with a manual for being a working parent. And this is especially true for “parentrepreneurs.”
As an entrepreneur, you’re primarily focused on venturing into new opportunities, drafting working strategies, and achieving results. The reasons you do this are self-improvement, portfolio expansion, and monetary gain.
Adding family to the mix can make things a bit tricky. Since now you’re also responsible for your family, your work rate and results must improve. In addition, as your business grows, you’ll have to divide and share your attention between it and your expanding obligations. Understandably, this can be tough.
The good news? No matter where you are in your entrepreneurial and family journey, there are ways to balance your work, life, and parenting.
1. Develop a routine.
The importance of spending time together with family cannot be overstated. But, if our precious time is wasted, we can feel stressed, frustrated, and burned out. That’s why it’s vital for parent entrepreneurs to be mindful of their time management. And implementing a daily routine that fits your family’s and business’s needs can do just that. Why? Because this provides structure.
In addition to keeping you organized and productive, a routine makes your day more predictable, which saves you time and energy. For both business and personal tasks, assign a specific amount of time, and embrace flexibility because things may not go as planned.
Among the helpful routines you can implement immediately are:
- First, prepare your to-do list each night for the next day.
- Check and respond to emails at a set time each day. As an example, at 9 am and 6 pm.
- Finally, get your meal prep on.
- Work around your children’s schedules. For instance, set your working hours when they’re in school.
2. Set priorities.
Lola Wright, founder of LolaWright.com and coach at LolaWright.com, says most people overcommit to their priorities. Eventually, feelings of inadequacy can be associated with this overcommitment.
“Know what your true priorities are, and don’t compromise on them,” Wright said. “This is the most important thing you can do for yourself, your business, and your family.”
What’s more, any project that is not your top priority should be delegated.
“Outsource the low-priority work to somebody who has that time to spend helping you with a business,” said William Gaunitz, certified trichologist and founder of Advanced Trichology.
In addition, Cheri Reid, owner, and operator of Huntington Learning Center in Skokie, Illinois, said there would be times when your attention will be split between your business and your family.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself,” Reid added. “Priorities will ebb and flow.”
3. Live by your calendar.
“If it doesn’t exist on my calendar, it’s not real,” said Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec. Sound advice. The question is, though, what should be included in your calendar?
In my calendar, I reserve time for networking, learning, and relaxing, as well as date-specific appointments. However, I schedule my obligations before all of that. These include vacations, school functions, and doctor’s appointments.
“Plan as much as you can a year in advance and stick to it,” suggested Herjavec. For him, that means booking his calendar a year in advance. To do that, he sat down with their school counselor and assistant and went over “each” holiday and event they had off.
“Because of that, I never missed a swim meet. I never missed a school play. I never missed anything,” Herjavec said. “I’d fly from L.A. back to Toronto to be with my kids for one day. That’s the great thing about having your own business — the freedom to control your schedule and do what you want with it.”
Of course, not everyone has a chance to personally meet with their kid’s teachers, counselors, or coaches. However, even without a year’s notice, you still have plenty of time to add key dates to your calendar. Examples could be the first day of school or when they have games or recitals. Your kids may even have their own digital calendar. If so, sync their calendar with yours to prevent calendar conflicts.
4. Establish boundaries and follow through on your commitments.
Get into the habit of putting clear time limits in place. That means defining when you are available and when you are not available is what you do in this section. You can also teach your children this valuable lesson.
Unless it’s an emergency, no one should disturb you when you are unavailable. This is your time to focus on your business.
On the flip side, being available to your children, however, means being fully present for them without any distractions. The only thing that matters here is you and them. Everything else can wait.
5. Don’t go it alone.
Starting a business requires a village — just as raising a child does. After all, business success is never the result of one person working alone. I mean, for every Steve Jobs, there’s a Steve Wozniak beside them.
The reason? You literally can’t do everything on your own. Whether that’s because of time restraints or the skills, you don’t possess. As a parent, that’s doubly true.
Despite this, learning to let go of control is one of the hardest things for entrepreneurs. Even though delegating tasks to someone else may be necessary, it can feel uncomfortable when you build your startup from scratch.
You might want to consider hiring a virtual assistant to handle mundane tasks in your business. Depending on your needs, they can be very affordable. And, as your business grows, you’ll have more team members to help lighten your workload.
You’ll spend more time with your family if you delegate more and work less. As a result, you can focus more on taking your business to the next level and the bigger picture.
The same holds true for home life: you can’t do everything. As a family, that means planning and managing time efficiently and building supportive relationships. So, let’s say that you’re working from home, but need a couple of hours to focus on work. Ask a parent, sibling, or neighbor if they can watch the kids. Or, maybe find someone through sites like Care.com or Sittercity.
6. Before you enter the door, stop.
“Parentprenuers need to get ready to be a parent before they open their front doors and walk inside,” says Leila Bulling Towne, The Bulling Towne Group, LLC. “Sure, you can turn off your phone and put away your laptop, yet changing your mindset is key.”
Once you cross the threshold, the role of entrepreneur changes when you become a parent, adds Leila. Make sure you put away your work baggage before dinner and before bedtime so you can be fully present.
7. Bring your family along on the journey.
Obviously, you cannot hire your children full-time. You could, however, ask your children for help after school or when they’re home on in-service days. If the kids aren’t around, maybe you should delegate some tasks to your partner.
As well as giving you more family time, this teaches your children values that will make them stand out. Responsibility, teamwork, and problem-solving are all part of these skills.
In the past few years, I have followed Sherrie Campbell, a psychologist specializing in raising children. Campbell’s advice is straightforward and easy to understand. As Sherrie suggests, we can teach children about life to be successful by teaching them these seven values. As far as children are concerned, we all need actionable, doable information.
8. You can compromise, but not on self-care.
It does not matter whether you start a business or have a baby, your sleep schedule will be disrupted, and your hobbies will be neglected. Identify the areas you are not willing to cut out of your routine and determine how much you can compromise.
It’s essential to draw a clear line when it comes to moments of particular significance. The simple things, such as tucking your children into bed, reading a story, or watching a recital or basketball game, cannot be replaced. At the same time, it’s also essential to take care of yourself, whether by running every night or relaxing with a few minutes of meditation. As such, you should block out time in your calendar for self-care like you would for a dentist or investor appointment.
9. Disconnect during family time.
“There’s no experience that can compare to bonding with your kids,” states Choncé Maddox. “However, family time becomes less enjoyable when you or your spouse are glued to your work while everyone is trying to spend quality time together.”
“I know it can be tempting to check your email when you’re watching a family movie,” Choncé adds. “Trust me when I say that they’ll notice how connected you are to your devices rather than them.”
Children pick up on everything, even when they are small. “When my son has basketball practice, I’ve felt tempted to bring my laptop and catch up on work,” she continues. “However, sometimes I’ve noticed he looks over at me to see if I’m watching him, especially when he makes a shot.”
“That made me realize that I didn’t want him to remember mom always on her laptop or phone.” As a result, I work very efficiently during my time so that I can disconnect when needed.
10. It’s okay to accept what can’t be changed.
Whether raising kids or running a business, it’s never easy. They’re probably both of your biggest challenges in life.
There’s always a fine line between finding the right balance between both on even a “regular” day. Moreover, that doesn’t account for extenuating circumstances such as a sick child or workplace disaster.
In both areas, learning to take setbacks in stride is key.
It’s common for entrepreneurs who raise families to feel like they’ve failed at both due to stress, falling prey to the games their brains play when things get tough.
Even for ambitious overachievers, admitting family involvement is hard, but letting go of perfection is crucial. In short, there is no perfect parent, just as there is no perfect entrepreneur.
Certainly, crises will arise, and there may be times when you don’t feel you’re doing your best. However, looking at things from a broader perspective will show you that you aren’t actually in that bad of a shape.
In life, stumbles are inevitable. And once you accept that fact, you can focus on what matters most, whether it is playing with your kids or thinking of your next product.
Image Credit: Julia M Cameron; Pexels; Thank you!