Running any kind of business while you have a family is extremely challenging for anyone. While many people talk about a work-life balance, the truth is that in an ideal world you’d be able to give both your full attention. Inevitably, compromises are going to have to be made, but there’s no reason why you can’t be a great parent and a great business person at the same time. Having a family gives you a different perspective on everything, so it’s inevitable that the two sides of your life are going to overlap. Your job is to think about how much.
If the time you have with both your family and your business are limited, you will subconsciously strive to make both as good as they can be. Rather than spending more time on either pursuit, it’s all about making the time you do have exceptional. Once again, it’s the old quality over quantity argument.
Be Realistic With Your Goals
People work best when they have specific goals that they are working towards. Clearly define why you want to run a business while you are looking after a family. Is it because you are looking to create a better standard of living for your children? Is it to make a difference in the world? Is it for your own sense of pride? When you’ve worked this out, it’s time to work out the steps you need to take to get there.
Rather than setting big, pie in the sky goals, try to set ones that are more manageable. It’s likely that your work goals and family goals will be running side by side. For example, you may want to have your company website set up by a certain date, but you also want to have been to every one of your kid’s soccer games. Once you have achieved these, evaluate how realistic they were, and bear this in mind when you are setting the next ones. If you were disappointed that you either didn’t spend enough time with your family, or enough time on your business, it may be time to readjust your priorities and commitments.
Share the Load
Being a good mom doesn’t necessarily mean you have to keep the house tidy all the time and have dinner ready and waiting on the table. From an early age, you should help your family to understand that looking after the house is all their responsibility. If you are constantly stressed about the chores, you’re more likely to want to crash out at the end of the day rather than spend time with the family.
If you have the budget, you could hire a cleaner to come in a couple of times a week to reduce the stress. If you have parents or friends who can take the kids off your hands for a couple of evenings a week, you will have more time to dedicate to your business. There’s no shame in needing help, and if it frees up more time to concentrate on all the other things that are more important to you, all the better.
Planning, Planning, Planning
Just as planning is extremely important in your business life, it should also be a big part of your family life. If you work from home, set a clearly defined schedule of when you will be working and when you won’t be. One of the most difficult aspects of modern life is separating work time from family time. Plan your schedule on a week by week basis so you can get a handle on what you should be doing at what time. Inevitably, things are likely to come up to shift your schedule around so be prepared to be flexible when you have to. Also, dedicate a certain space in the house (whether this is an office, shed or part of a table) to work. When you are in this space, it’s work time and you should move out of it when the work is complete.
Speak to the Experts
When you are in the process of starting up a business, it can be extremely challenging to attempt to do everything yourself. Hours and hours of Google searches could be saved by spending just a half hour talking to an expert in the field. If you have friends who are already in business and can help you out for free, all the better. If not, the internet has made it increasingly straightforward to find people who can help you out with various areas of business. For example, if you need a digital marketing expert, there are thousands upon thousands waiting to speak to you. If you need a guide on company shares, there are plenty of financial companies waiting for you to get in touch. Yes, you will have to pay a fee for their services, but the time you save could also be invaluable.
Juggling a business and a family is a stressful task, so you should find ways of dealing with this stress. Set some time apart every day when you can decompress and let go of any worries in your life. This may be at the end of the day when you do some meditation, light yoga or take a bubble bath. Work out what works best for you and give yourself some alone time.
Exercise is usually a good way to manage stress. Walking and jogging are both activities that keep you fit while also giving you ample time to think. Both your business and family will end up benefiting when you are less consumed by stress.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Everyone Else
This is an extension of the previous point as it will go a long way towards controlling your stress levels. The rise of technology and social media has meant that everyone has been able to upload their own highlight reels to the internet. If everything seems to be going perfectly for a particular person, it’s highly unlikely that this is the case. Rather than letting it get you down, you should remain positive about all the things that are going well for you. Grow your business at a pace that suits you and your circumstances. You have to do things on your own terms rather than being affected by outside influences.
Make One Night A Week Special
You should set aside at least one night a week to family time. Turn off your mobile and laptop, and just spend time together. Think of some fun activities you could do like going out to the movies or out to dinner. This will give something for the whole family to look forward to every week. Try to keep the night consistent on a weekly basis, but if you have to vary it, try to plan this in advance so your kids won’t end up being disappointed.
Striking that perfect work-life balance is pretty much impossible 100 percent of the time. If you’ve had a week where you haven’t spent enough time with the family, or your business has started to suffer because you’ve forgotten to do something, don’t beat yourself up too much about it. You’re only human. Instead, try to work out ways in which you are going to redress that balance in the future so that both sides of your life continue running smoothly.
Battle Your Biggest Critic
Inevitably, this is going to be yourself. Always remember that no one puts more pressure on yourself than you do. No one else is there concentrating on every little failure or setback. Ultimately, if you don’t have a positive mindset, you’ve been defeated from the start. True success requires you to overcome all of these mental hurdles so you are able to reap tangible benefits. And this leads me nicely onto my final point.
Celebrate Your Achievements
Some people are just so focused, they don’t stop to appreciate how amazing what they are doing is. Very few people are able to run a successful business and raise a family at the same time, so you should be proud of what you are doing. When you land a big client or make a major sale, take some time to celebrate with your family. Similarly, if your child has got an A at school, reward them for their hard work. There’s no point putting all these hours in if you aren’t going to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
These are just a few methods to help you walk that difficult tightrope of balancing your work and family lives. Though it’s never going to be an easy thing to do, remind yourself why you have chosen to take this path in life and always be kind to yourself.