Balancing Children and Business – How Entrepreneurs Get it Done
For women entrepreneurs, there is a constant battle for understanding and balance when it comes to family and work. For years the commonplace has been women stay home with children and are the primary caregivers. Times have changed and now women are out in the workforce full time, while still having children, and must maneuver in different ways to still balance their kids and their business. The same goes for the fathers – they are now expected to take on more duties with children and at home. So how do you balance both? Below we have rounded up some advice from entrepreneurs on how they maintain an even standing with both their children and business.
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I'm finding these conversations about women and work so interesting lately! I see all the posts (and there are hundreds, so if you think I'm talking about you alone…I'm not) and I can't help but think to myself “Self, perhaps the reason male executives don't succumb to the pressures of balancing work and family is because men don't tend to try to balance work and family. When they are working…g, they focus on working…when they are playing, they focus on playing…and when they are parenting, they focus on parenting. Perhaps men don't fall to the pressures of the demands of having it all, because a Man with a family and a brilliant career knows that he DOES have it all! He doesn't stress over the opinions of others who judge his parenting because men do not typically hold up a measuring stick to one another's parenting. Consider a man who is an avid Hockey Fan…He may work his tail off 6 days a week, but when the game is on, he's laser focused…the kids call for him, the wife calls for him…nadda. “Wait till a commercial!” and then, when that commercial comes on, it's all about the kids or the wife or whatever…and then, when the commercials are over, it's back to the game. It kind of pisses us off sometimes, and yet, you still have to appreciate the brilliance in it. What if we all took that approach? What if we stopped trying to be all things at all times to all people and just focused on the Brilliance we possess on the Level we're at? And what if the only real problem women need to overcome in the workforce, is simply the women who judge other women in the workforce.
Thanks to Tara Kennedy-Kline, Multi-Level Mom, Inc.
Preparing a calendar
My business is to make entrepreneurship relaxing and profitable for my clients – and sometimes, that means working 50-60 hour work weeks. But I never lose sight of the reason I chose entrepreneurship myself – to have a rewarding work/life balance, and time with my children. Each Friday as I prepare my calendar for the following work week I block off three 1 hour time slots in my calendar for myself and my family, and I hold those appointments with the same value that I would if they were a consultation spot with a new client. Nothing gets booked in their place, nothing takes precedence over them. If I know my children have a school activity or other event, I use these blocks to ensure that I'm there and present in their lives. I encourage my staff and my clients to use the same method to ensure that they're scheduling enough time for their own life – write it in ink on your calendar.
Thanks to Brandy Burke, Burke Administrative Services
Related Post: Tips to Help Maximize Your Time
Give up some control
Give up some control: You don’t have to do everything yourself. Take advantage of virtual assistants, your current staff and technology. Many of your menial tasks can be outsourced on some level. Don’t waste your valuable, productive time on tasks that can be easily off loaded. This frees up your time to spend where it’s most needed, whether family or working ON your business. Trust in your people: Many business owners have a hard time handing off details to staff, they feel only they can do it well. There comes a time in your business growth where you WILL stagnate if you do not let go of the need to control everything. Find good, intelligent people; groom them, train them and delegate, delegate, delegate. The sooner the better, for your productivity AND your family sanity. Say yes to every single person who offers to help you! In fact, take it one step further and have a list handy of things you know you require some help with. So the NEXT time somebody offers to help, you have some tangible tasks you can hand off. Even if it is just to pick up dry cleaning or buy printer toner at Staples. It is one less task on your insane “to-do” list and one more thing you can write-off as accomplished.
Thanks to Leah Chevallier, bo bebe lifestyle
The simple act of balancing
With two growing boys, 5 and 12, I have a big juggling act sometimes between my business, their schoolwork and sport but there is a way to manage everything without going insane! Yes, there is. The little secret I use is balance. Yes, that is it. I need to spend time with my business when the boys come home from school. During the first one hour when they get home, we all sit and do the work we need to get done and then it is time for ‘Time Out'. It is Time Out for us to have some fun before the next lot of things such as getting dinner, setting the table and more. This is also a great time to have time out with your children. Spending time again perhaps once the children have gone to bed to finalise your day means that you not only look after your business but your children as well.
Thanks to Hazel Theocharous, Expert VA
Facing that work life and business life intersect
The day I conquered the never-ending task of balancing being a mom and running a business is when I simply accepted the fact that the two major parts of my life will intersect and I can't avoid that. If I'm in the office in a meeting and the school calls about one of my kids, I have to handle the situation and be there for my kids. If I'm at home on a weekend with the kids and something comes up for a client that needs immediate attention, I have to handle the situation for my business. It's something that I used to try so hard to avoid. I wanted to keep my home and work life separate so badly but it just caused me more frustration since it never seemed to work. Now, I just accept it and go with the flow and take care of what I need to as it arises.
Thanks to Nellie Akalp, CorpNet
Firm start and stop times
All of us had worked very hard in a startup before this named Rackspace. The company grew by over 40% every year, and we often put in 14 hour days. We were younger, didn't have kids yet, and could do whatever the job required, without considering the impact it had on others–especially young ones and spouses. Today, however, we are married, and have started families. We also are very considerate people, and paired with career woman who are doing their own companies–so we tend to share the workload involved with raising the kids. Gone are the days of the “MadMen” 1960's dad stereo type of the wife at home raising children, and the dad doing his own thing on his own clock, and just coming home and kissing the kids goodnight. In this day and age, our generation is more involved in raising our children. Some of the ways we can run a business and still be a parent are: –Firm start and stop times. The business will always have challenges, but your kids won't always have that soccer game, or ballet practice. –Non-negotiable calendar blocks: My daughter's ballet class is fun for her, and an important time for us to bond. I have my calendar blocked two days a week, and it's non-negotiable. I am unavailable for work issues during that time. Period. – –Understanding Spouses. It's even more important to have a partner at home that understands the motivation behind what drives the entrepreneur, and that they HAVE to do their work or else they wouldn't exist. Entrepreneurs are a different breed, and it takes a special lady to be married to a male entrepreneur. They have to me a real teammate, not be rigid, or time-sensative, and understand that “I am leaving here in 30m” really means you won't see them for an hour and a half. -Sit Down and Eat Together! – With So much “Grab and Go” as an entrepreneur, it's important to make the time to have a couple of REAL sit down meals with the family each week. This makes sure that you are plugged in with what is going on, both emotionally and with activities. -Weekend Activities: since the weekdays are SO routine, (get up, inhale b'fast, run to car, drive to school, drop off, go to work, crank it out, go to ballet, go to soccer, shower, tuck in for bed..) it is important to have some fun INTERACTIVE activities on the weekend where you aren't just going through the motions together–like during the week. This helps maintain that bond and show the other side of you as a parent–not just a focused, driven, competitive person, but a loving, empathetic and engaging one as well.
Thanks to Frederick “Suizo” Mendler, TrueAbility
Related Post: How to Maintain Balance
Baby steps can move mountains
When running a business and raising children, the slices of time and energy we have available can seem very small. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, stuck and discouraged by all the things we’ve not done, ideas we could do, and what we think we ‘should’ be doing. Great things can be accomplished by taking tiny steps every day in the right direction. A mammoth task, however big or complex, can be broken down into small, manageable, achievable baby steps, which you can do without disowning your family or taking extreme lengths. What’s more, baby steps help you to focus on progress – what you have done – rather than be discouraged by what’s yet to be done, and that’s exactly how I wrote my book in 40 days, around my children, clients and other commitments.
Thanks to Grace Marshall, Grace-Marshall.com
Figuring out my own playbook
Balancing a family and the demands of running a business can be stressful. They are similar in that they can both be unpredictable, there is never enough time to devote to either, and neither one comes with a playbook. I have yet to figure out the right balance but I find that prioritizing and reprioritizing really helps. I actually think I've become more efficient at work since having children. I focus on the items that are most important and I don't worry as much about the insignificant stuff as much as I used to. I try to say, “No,” to meetings that aren't a good use of my time. I also find that some of my best business solutions and ideas come to me when I'm out of the office. On the family front I have learned to outsource the things that I don't like to do or that don't give me quality time with my children. I've embraced the store bought birthday cake. Because I don't always have as much time with my children as I would like to I really appreciate the time I do have with them. I try to put aside anything work-related and focus on the time with my kids. I find that I get a second wind when I walk in the door from the office and shift gears to spend time with my family.
Thanks to Lynn Perkins, UrbanSitter
Taking the time to invest in my children
As a busy entrepreneur, it's easy to get lost in client demands and real time constraints. At the same time, one of my most important responsibilities as a human being is to provide for and invest in my children. To help ensure that my children get the focused attention that they need, I build the following activities into our schedule: 1. We eat dinner together as a family every night. This is a time to talk and reflect on the day. I ignore any and all technology during our meal. 2. After dinner, I try to make sure I spend quality time with the kids. We might read some books, play outside, work on a fun project or focus on a creative activity. I make sure this happens three to five times per week, and my wife plans creative activities on the nights when I need to focus. Neither of these ideas are groundbreaking, but simple steps can help business owners stay connected to their kids in an unbelievably busy world.
Thanks to Josh Waldron, Studio JWAL LLC
Don't sweat the small stuff
Of course I'm going to say there's wine involved! But in reality it takes a lot of planning and focus to achieve any balance in a busy life. Stay organised, don't sweat the small stuff- wearing the same socks two days in a row to school once in a while isn't going to kill them – and ensure your partner (if you have one) takes equal share of the load. And on the days where it doesn't go quite right, open a REALLY good bottle of wine and pour yourself a glass. It forces you to sit, relax and live in the moment with your kids.
Thanks to Jane Thomson, Fabulous Ladies Wine Society
There is no doubt about it, balancing Business and Children can be tough. Still, there is a valid reason so many mum's are throwing in the corporate towel and launching businesses of their own, and that is all about flexibility. Our tips for managing both children and business together are: 1. Be realistic – if you have active toddlers or pre-schoolers then your ability to get anything done whilst they are around is probably slim. You need to understand how many hours you will need to commit to your business and have suitable childcare unless you are only planning on working when they sleep. 2. Time Management – Flexibility is great, but set yourself a working schedule and commit to it. There is a time for household chores and a time for working. If you have scheduled yourself to be working, then you should be focused on whatever tasks bring in the most revenue. 3. Enjoy the best of both worlds – that means when your kids are home, PLAY! They are unlikely to want to watch you respond to your email or checking your phone. You should also chuck that mother guilt out the window when you are working and celebrate that you are both adding to your family income and doing something fulfilling.
Thanks to Debbie Hatswell, Story Mama
Related Post: Relaxed Entrepreneurs
With only 24 hours in each day, doing everything that needs to be done can certainly be a challenge; especially when you're responsible for more than just yourself. Every day I wake up at the crack of dawn to exercise and cook a healthy breakfast for my 12-year-old, Corey, and myself. We also take time for any last minute school assignment reviews, plus I'm invariably dealing with work issues first thing in the morning. I often say I get more done before 8 a.m. than most people do all day! Then, every evening, after a long day in the office, we spend time eating a home-cooked supper, doing homework or just relaxing. Finding the perfect balance of togetherness and work/school responsibilities can be difficult, but it's vital in order for us both to develop fulfilling and successful lives. I thank God every day that I'm able to live my life in a way that allows me to instill a set of traditional values in my son's life, too.
Thanks to Gail Warrior, Warrior Construction
Just spending time together
When I first started Cybermark International it was just me, and I would sell all day and program all night, usually with my sleeping son next to me just so I could feel close to him while I worked. After moving to Phoenix and becoming more established it became easier balance both my work and personal life, and my current employees are all accustomed to seeing my son hanging around the office after school. Whether he’s doing homework, helping me out, or just relaxing and playing a game on his phone, we always manage to spend as much time as we can together.
Thanks to Kimberly Judd-Pennie, Cybermark International
Keep the two separate
Like many business owners, online tools let me work from home. But at home, too are the children. Even if your partner or baby sitter is there to care for them, it can be difficult to separate the business from the family. Here are my two key tools to balance children and business: – · *Be Tough:* Work hours means it is work time and family time is family time. This means I don’t cook dinner when I’m supposed to be working on my business. But it also means that when I’m with my family I don’t do work: my emails can wait until I am in my office in my work hours. – · *Focus Right Here, Right Now: *When I’m working, I’m focused on working. Then when it is family time, I’m focused on them. I’m 100% with them without one eye on the computer screen.
Thanks to Jennifer Forest, Work Women Want
A shift in priorities
I thought I was going to be in trouble. I had a brand new daughter and a brand new company at the same time, and I couldn't see any way that I'd get any sleep, ever again, for the rest of my life. I was already working endless hours just getting the company up and running – dealing with a baby could only make that worse! My daughter, Bria, will be one in May, and I have to admit, I really lucked out. Not only is she just a super fun kid, but she sleeps soundly through the night, and I haven't even heard her cry for the last six months. Top that off with the fact that my wife is just an outstanding mom, and my job as a father has become pretty easy. It turns out that it wasn't the allocation of responsibilities that changed, it was more a shift in priorities: for the first time ever, after 20 years of building various companies, I'm leaving the office early just so I can have a few more minutes to play with her before she goes to bed. Work, it turns out, can wait.
Thanks to Jay Miletsky, MyPod Studios