Work and kids: How to find the balance between family and business
Posted on September 15, 2016 by Samantha Gomez
I’ve run my own businesses for 11 years and I am the mother of two beautiful sons. My boys were 5 and 3 when I started out on my own, so I know how challenging it can be to manage the needs of a business and motherhood at the same time.
During my business journey I’ve learnt some tricks that can help you find the balance between family and work while staying on top of both and without any need to feel guilty about either!
It is still hard to find time for everything, but with a few changes life can be much, much easier than you think.
- When you have small children it is impossible to get work done, concentrate or interact in a professional manner when they are playing on the floor at your feet or watching TV in the next room. So try and find some childcare, whether a childcare centre or a grandparent or friend, to help you out at least a couple of days a week so you can get some productive work done.
- On the other days when your small child is at home, schedule zones into your day so that you have specific time with your child and time where you can work. Sleep time is obviously the best time to get as much done as possible and if you have a child with a good attention span, there is nothing wrong with a good video to keep them occupied while you get a few emails away.
- School does make things easier but you really only have between 9:30am – 2:30am for solid work. Those five hours fly past so it’s best to be as organised as possible, ready to cram as much in as you can.
- A To-Do list is essential. Prioritise, be organised and make sure you know what you will be doing each day. As soon as you’re back from school drop-off – jump into it!
- Check your emails first thing in the morning. Lots of people will say not to do this but I think it is really helpful because it means that you can get the kids ready for school knowing whether something has cropped up that needs your urgent attention and mulling the solution over in the back of your mind if it has.
- After school care – try booking your kids in for one or two days per week. Knowing that you have those longer days will make all the difference to your ability to manage your work load.
- Use any time you have in the car alone to make business calls. On the way to or from school works really well.
Nothing is more important than your family and the key to successfully running your business from home is making sure you have time to be really present for your kids and partner.
The best way to do this is by scheduling zones; work out times when you will focus on your work, and times that will be for family. Communicate these to everyone so they know what to expect and then follow through on what you have promised… no sneaking off to check your emails!
As an example, when my kids were little, my afternoons look like this:
- 3-5pm – Kid time – afternoon tea and homework
- 5-6pm – Check emails and respond to anything urgent that has arisen between 2:30 and 5:00pm.
- 6pm onwards – Cook dinner, extra homework, family time
If you still HAVE to work after dinner, sitting on the couch with a laptop while the kids watch TV works best. You are ‘with’ them but it’s a time when they don’t really want to engage with you.
A great location for quality time with the kids is the car. Turn the radio off, don’t answer your phone and really talk to them about their day, their friends and what’s happening at school. You’ll be surprised at how much they tell you when there is no eye contact and nothing else to do.
And in amongst all this, don’t forget to clear some space for your partner. Put younger children to bed early or as the kids grow older, go for a walk after dinner.
Remember however that you can’t do everything. Get a cleaner, buy your groceries online, or find someone to do your ironing. Looking after a family at the same time as running a business is a big commitment and you aren’t superwoman. Get help where you can!
The key to succeeding with both your work and kids is to plan every day so you have the time you need for your business without sacrificing quality time with your family.
What are your tricks for juggling family and work?