A big challenge when it comes to combining entrepreneurship with parenting is a feeling of guilt. You feel guilty that you’re not focusing on your business whilst you’re with your kids; and you feel guilty that you’re not with your kids when you’re working on your business. It’s tempting to multi-task – to “just send a quick email” whilst the kids are watching TV or respond to comments on your Facebook page whilst getting them ready for bed. It often results in your children accusing you of “always working” or dropping the ball in business – not to mention the internal anxiety and frustration it creates.
My children are now 20 and 15 and I have been running my own business since my eldest was 2.
I loved being my own boss and having the time and freedom to go to every sports day, every school concert and to be there before and after school. I learned to deal with the guilt and create a business that works for my family by embracing the following:
1. Clear boundaries
It’s important to have fixed, yet fluid and flexible working hours. Children’s needs change as they grow, and they also vary from week to week. So be flexible and take advantage of any childcare that’s available. Think about what you want in your role as a mother, and your role as an entrepreneur. Choose the hours you want to work – hours that fit family life. Most importantly, ensure you have clear boundaries between work and family – the same as you would with paid employment.
2. Quality time with your children
When you’re with your children, be totally present for them. As tempting as it might be to answer a quick email on your phone – do not. Give them your total attention. When you give children your undivided attention they feel it – they feel important, safe and loved. To help you, switch off notifications on your phone so you do not get drawn in whilst with your children.
3. Time for you
It’s tempting to spend all your hours on your business when you’re not running a home or being with your family. But do give yourself time and space to nourish you. Think about how you thrive – do you need time and space every day, or a day to yourself every week? It’s in your downtime that inspiration comes and you get your best ideas – ensure it is part of your weekly schedule. Plus, at the beginning of each year, block out your holidays first – before they get eaten up with clients and work. And it’s totally possible to take off all school holidays – if you prioritize it.
4. Get support
Forget trying to be superhuman – understand that you are doing two full-time jobs – raising a family and running a business. It’s impossible to do both well single-handedly – so do not even try. Cleaners and virtual assistants are great investments and pay dividends, giving you headspace to focus on revenue generating activities.
5. Have compassion
You’re human, we do not live in isolation, life happens. Know that there will be days that nothing goes according to plan – be kind and compassionate with yourself. Tomorrow is another day.