Working parents know how difficult it is to balance a career while caring for children. However, parents who run their own business experience an added layer to this challenge.
In many ways, these “parentpreneurs” stretch themselves between two types of babies: the children they’re raising and the business they’re growing. Both require near-constant nurturing and attention to be successful, especially in their early stages, and entrepreneurial parents must learn to carefully plan and prioritise their time to ensure that each gets the care they need and deserve.
There are many ways in which you can maintain a healthy balance between your family and your business. Below I share some of my top tips.
Learn how to say no
As a parent, there are always many calls on your time. As your business starts to grow, the number of people that want to talk with you (“grab coffee sometime “) seems to grow exponentially. To keep your life manageable you need to learn to say no – both within your professional and personal life.
Have reliable childcare
In general, the business world is not geared up for people who are the main childcare provider. There will be times when you need to attend a meeting or visit a supplier and will need childcare for your children. By having childcare options ready if you need it (partner, grandparents, childminder, friends, etc) you should be able to juggle the demands of both the business and your family.
Prepare to work between 6am and midnight
Forget about having a 9-5 working existence. There are times when you’ll love having the flexibility to put your family first, for example, attendance at school sports day. But, there are times when you find yourself e-mailing at midnight and wishing that you had a more normal working hours and patterns.
Invest in automation and efficiency
The more systems and processes that can be automated or run efficiently, the more time you will have to spend on the more valuable work-based tasks and quality time with the family.
Be protective of your quality time
It’s so easy to put your own personal need for quality time after everything else. In fact, you may not even let yourself have any quality time. But, to be your best, you need to schedule in quality time for yourself. You matter, don’t ever forget that!
Outsource as much as possible
You don’t need to tell me that there’s always another job to do on the to-do list. Trust me, I know! As soon as you become a parent, the to-do list never ends. Add in a business to run, and you can easily feel the “mum guilt” if you stop and try to steal a bit of “me time” back.
Get more of your time back by outsourcing or delegating out as much of the low value tasks or stuff that doesn’t play to your strengths, as possible.
Balance your business, family and “me time”
There will be times when your business will need more of your time and attention, and your family and “me time” will suffer. Similarly, in the school holidays, your family will demand more of your time. However, over time, you should look to balance the demands of the business, your family and make sure there is some time left over for yourself too.
Don’t hide your children
People want to deal with people. The more open you are with your clients and customers about your family and how you juggle the two, the more understanding they will be when, for example, a phone call is interrupted with the immortal words “mummy, mummy I’ve done a poo”.
Remember why you started your business in the first place
When times are tough and you wonder whether there’s anything more to life than the business, it’s worth remembering why you’re running your own business. There is nothing quite like having the flexibility to build your professional life around your family commitments.
Remember, you can always go back to the 9-5 corporate existence…
Be realistic with what you can achieve
There are only 24 hours in a day. Your business will grow only as fast as you personally push it. If the pace is getting too fast, then take the foot off the accelerator pedal. Don’t fall into the trap of setting yourself unrealistic targets or unrealistic expectations. Unless you can afford a full time cleaner, a cook and a nanny, the house will not always be tidy and clean, and dinner may not always be freshly cooked and on the table on time.