Tips for Running a Business While Raising a Family
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Balancing parenthood and running a business is challenging. You get your kids ready in the morning, work during the day, spend time with your family until bedtime and probably add in another hour or two of job-related tasks before you hit the hay. When you’re responsible for launching a business and parenting well-rounded human beings, burnout can sometimes feel inevitable.
We know entrepreneurship and parenthood are never going to be easy efforts. But with a little control and motivation, you can stay in tune with your overarching goals and navigate the tough times with grace. Try these practical tips that can help you take back your work-life balance.
1. Find Reliable Child Care
One benefit of entrepreneurship is flexibility. You can make the calls on your schedule, which makes emergencies within your household easier to navigate. This is especially true if your business can be operated from home.
However, even the most flexible entrepreneur needs dedicated time to focus on their business without worrying about the pressing demands of childcare. Some entrepreneurs can lean on their partner or relatives to provide care, while others use a professional service.
Either way, you should have a few backups in case of an emergency. Find people you can trust so you can focus on your work while knowing your children are well cared for. Dividing your attention between two full-time responsibilities can make you feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends and not fully giving yourself to either your business or your family.
2. Ask for Help
Being a parent is a full-time job, and when you add your own business, your schedule is never-ending. Many entrepreneurs feel a sense of dedication to their business, and have trouble delegating, but this can bite you when you need to balance responsibilities.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help — no one can do everything. Employees or outside services can take some management items off your plate and help you focus on high-impact work.
You can get some help with responsibilities at home, too. Talk with your family about getting extra help with chores and meals so everyone is on the same page about how work is delegated. If you can afford it, consider hiring a cleaning service once a week or get a meal delivery subscription. The time that’s saved can be good for your energy levels and let you spend more quality time with your loved ones.
3. Remember Your Why
Sometimes, you lose your sense of motivation when your daily workload is stressful. You may want to give up when you start work for the day exhausted because your daughter was up sick all night, or you’re burning the midnight oil just trying to wrap up an important task.
Running a business while raising a family is hard work, but you started this business for a reason: Were you able to leave corporate work? Do you get to spend more time with your family? Are you going to be able to retire early? Recenter yourself by remembering all the benefits of working for yourself.
This isn’t a substitute for work-life balance, but it can help you step back from a stressful period and align your priorities with your goals.
4. Set Realistic Expectations
There’s a lot of social pressure to achieve perfection. The successful business, the polished home, the children who always wear matching clothes — if you feel yourself getting stressed over losing ground in one area, it’s a good time to reassess what matters most to you right now.
Some things will fall to the wayside when you have a lot on your plate. Decide on your priorities and let the rest go. Your house may never be spotless, and sometimes you might have PB&J sandwiches for supper. Maybe your kid heads to school one day wearing an eyesore of an outfit. That’s OK as long as everyone is happy and healthy and your business is thriving.
5. Create a Distraction-Free Workspace
Whether you work from a home office or head into a physical business, invest some resources into creating an office space where you can focus and be comfortable. It’s best to set up a private space where you can close the door and create distraction-free time to work as efficiently as possible. That way, you don’t feel the urge to bleed work hours into family time.
Then, spend a little time and investment in the furniture and decoration. A comfortable chair, natural lighting, and a few decor pieces that help you feel relaxed and at peace can make a big physical and mental impact on your day.
6. Plan for Interruptions
Your family will interrupt your workday — it’s a matter of when not if. The school will call home that your son is sick and needs to be picked up. Your daughter will go streaking across your important video call. Emergency appointments pop up. This is a normal part of family life.
Complete your most important work first thing in the morning. That way, when interruptions crop up, you’ll be prepared to deal with them.
7. Create Healthy Boundaries
You should aim to be completely present in whatever you do. When you’re working, give that all of your attention. You won’t be as effective if you’re trying to answer emails while folding laundry.
Even more importantly, put work away at the end of the day and give your entire focus to your family. They’ll appreciate having your full attention for that time. If your kids feel like they get enough love from you in the evening, they’ll be less likely to demand it during your work hours.
8. Make Time for You
It can be so easy to lose yourself under all the responsibilities of parenting and owning a business. Other aspects of your life will suffer when that happens. You are still important, and you’re more than a parent or business owner.
Have a self-care night, rediscover an old hobby, start something new, go on a date or simply sit in a quiet room for 20 minutes to charge your batteries. Find something every week that’s just for you.
Running a Business While Raising a Family
Entrepreneurship and parenthood are both rewarding, but sometimes all-consuming, milestones. Learning to create balance, prioritize your most important tasks and forgive yourself for imperfections can help you create a sustainable routine for yourself, your business, and your family.
Evelyn Long is a writer and editor focused on home building and construction. She is the co-founder of Renovated, a web magazine for the home industry.