A very popular topic and concern for small business owners are how to balance being an entrepreneur and being a parent.
You want to lead by example and run a successful business in order to supply shelter, food, an education, and some luxuries for your family. And you also want to be there for your family. It’s natural to be concerned about work-life balance (especially as a small business owner), but there are ways to do it!
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I grew up with both parents being entrepreneurs. One of them owned a restaurant, the other was more involved in marketing and creating customer retention-focused corporate collateral. Both were successful, and both had to spend a lot of time with their careers. Though at times I had wished they would have been at-home caretakers, I’ve been more inspired by their dedication to their passions and ability to make their dreams come true.
I’ve done a lot of research, I’ve spoken with Simply Business employees, and I’ve pulled some personal examples from my parents to make a list of best practices for creating a balance between owning your small business and the job of being a parent.
Don’t try to do everything
If only you could be in two places at one time, life would be easier. But the reality is, when you actually try to be in two places at once, things don’t get done and become incredibly difficult. By organizing your schedule to have dedicated time for your small business separate from time focused on your children, you can get a lot more done without compromising the quality of time spent.
For example, let’s say you’re going to a dance recital for your child, but you are just thinking about your next meeting with a potential investor — you’re not giving your best to your child. And it’s not like you can make yourself ready for the meeting while you’re watching a dance recital.
On the flip side, if you’re providing a service for a client and your focus is on missing your kid’s basketball game and wishing you could be there, your attention is taken away from giving your client your 100% presence. If this becomes a pattern, you could lose business from lack of quality in your services. It also doesn’t help your kid to wish you were there when you are working.
When you trust that it’s OK to focus on one thing at a time, you get so much more done, and the quality of what you’re doing is improved tenfold.
Schedule work and parent responsibilities according to priority
When you can see how you map out time during the week for both your role as a small business owner and a parent, it helps to remove guilt and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can to balance your time between work and family.
Simply Business’s VP of Commercial Strategy, Scott Aiello, emphasizes the importance of scheduling when you are a single parent. He says, “Having a set schedule allows me to know exactly which days I can put in more time and which days I need to pick up or drop off, so it adds more organization to my schedule versus a traditional two-parent household.”
Communicating about your parenting duties’ schedule with fellow employees is also very important. Aiello adds, “I like how at Simply Business we can share our schedules with others so they can get a sense of any time blocks or out-of-office time.” Technology makes it easy to share calendars and contacts, so make sure you are taking advantage of that.
Naturally, there will be times when your small business asks more of you than your children and vice versa. There also will be either family emergencies or business emergencies that pop up. Mindfulness helps you to deal with the inevitable chaos and unexpected conflict that comes with being both a parent and a small business owner. But having a schedule helps to remember that even with emergencies, you’re still on track and have a plan to keep things going.
Work from home when you can
At Simply Business, employees have the option to work from home and create their own schedule. Of course, everyone shows up for their expected meetings, but a lot of parents at our company take advantage of this benefit. It helps to ensure that you can get work done, even if that means adjusting your hours on certain days.
There are some trades where you can’t work from home because you’re on-site at a client’s property, or they are at your office/storefront. But, when you know you have a day without any scheduled appointments and things are slow, take your work home to do any bookkeeping, checking inventory, or any other duties for your business.
As your kids get older, you can keep them busy with clubs and after school activities, but if you really just need to make sure they aren’t “home alone,” working from home while they are at home can be helpful from time to time. Just make it clear that you have to work and be in a space where you can focus.
Take a break from both roles
Burnout is real, and your life is more than just your career and family. Make sure to include time for other passions and pleasures, even if they are simple activities. It’s also important to make sure you spend time with friends or just be by yourself, so you feel like you have had time off from your two main jobs.
This is another reason to incorporate mindfulness into your regular routine — it allows you to center yourself, boost your mental health, and it provides some alone time. As a result, it helps you appreciate your job as an entrepreneur and parent even more.
Accept that you can’t do it all
Humans tend to put a lot of high expectations on themselves and to prove that they can do everything. The truth is, no one can do everything, nor should they.
Here’s a great tip from Simply Business’s Lead Tech Engineer, Chris Grandoit. He even points out that it’s important to “give your kids the independence to get themselves ready by brushing their hair, picking out clothes, and packing their bags.” He further adds the emphasis of “making time to care for yourself and knowing you can’t do it all.”
Even though you are a small business owner with a slightly different schedule from parents with other careers, it’s important to remember that you’re still pretty much doing the same thing. Your kids will still grow and learn some things on their own. As long as you’re doing your best, everything will always turn out OK!
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When she’s not writing for SB, Pauline runs an intuitive healing business... and is still writing as she types up psychic readings! As she was raised by entrepreneurs, she knows what it takes to be a small business owner.
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