Today we will be paying some attention to the parents among us. For those who, next to their time-consuming endeavours have another 24/7 project on their hands, namely, the business of parenting.
Now, being a parent can be demanding on its own but having to combine raising children with a business is quite the task. Believe us, we know. Today we’re sharing with you some tips to help you navigate yourself through your days and weeks as an entrepreneurial parent. Because we can relate and know how much of a challenge it can be to find a sane and effective work-life balance.
So here are 7 tips on managing a family and business at the same time.
1 Be clear on what is really important
Parents fall into the guilt trap. Of not spending enough time with their children, of not being fully engaged or present. Of being too busy to participate in other activities or feeling like you don’t know what’s going on in your child’s life. It’s a tough one and it’s not going to go anywhere. It’s the truth; the guilt will stay in one way or another because being an entrepreneur and owning a business demands of you to be there 24/7… but so do your children, and even though you can have both, you will have to prioritize.
That’s why we recommend to have a hierarchy of importance for your everyday tasks and duties. However, we’ve asked a few of our experienced MDC parents what is key to them. They have a lot in common we’ve noticed.
There are a few things that are always on their list. The parent stuff they will not budge on. They decided for themselves what would make them feel like an engaged, present and a good parent. Some of the things on the list were, taking their kids to school every day, cooking for them at least 3 times a week, and having a family meal every single day. It’s all about what you need to feel like what you do creates balance in your life. Because they do this every day, they feel like they’re doing their ‘job’ as a parent, and it really lessens the guilt. Obviously we all value different things, it might be something else for you, but just figure out for yourself what it is that matters most to you, and then go do it. Don’t make the list too long. Stick with what lights you up and feeds your parent soul. You’ll be a happier parent, and happy parents make for happy kids.
2 Let them help around the house
Don’t try to do it all. One of the biggest wastes of time, and the thing that will flood your brain with overwhelm is trying to do it all, for everyone. Don’t. Stop it now. You need to delegate. We know it’s not the easiest things to do, but if they can walk and talk, children can be assigned chores from a very young age. They are capable human beings, and making their beds, picking up their belongings, dusting, and sorting out the laundry are just some of the things children can do to help around the house.
Having said this, we want to point out 2 things. First, cut them some slack. If they don’t exactly do things the way you want them to then let them. If the job gets done, we’d take it if we were you.
Second; give your kids a bit of credit. If they can navigate their way on your smart phone, I’m sure they can pick up after themselves or help you with something else.
Just be clear of what is expected and be consistent. You can put up a task chart so everyone feels like they are part of a family project. This is a perfect way to start instilling a sense of responsibility and team work. Teaching about and introducing your children to chores is part of your family’s collective growth and can only be beneficial to all. Freeing up time like this will keep the household running smoothly and harmoniously.
3 Be there, fully
Get rid of the guilt. Or at least be so present that you cannot but be fully engaged. The idea is to be occupied with what you’re doing and not let your mind wander off to your to do list. That’s easier said than done but what we’ve learned is that, just like the cooking rule, having a ‘being present’ rule helps to take the mental load off. When you’re talking to your child put down your phone, look them in the eye and be there. We’re raising children and running a business at the same time, so we’re bound to run into some major parenting hurdles, but even if it’s for one minute, try to be there. It will strengthen the bond between you and your children, and they will feel like you are truly there for them.
Children would rather have a parent that they can connect with for 4 hours a day, than one that is around 24/7 but not really present. Quality over quantity. Always.
Toni Morrison had a beautiful way of putting it; ‘Do your eyes light up when a child walks into the room?’ Do they feel seen in that moment? We all know that spending time with someone is not what makes for true bonding. It’s always about the energy and how you spend that time. When you’re at work, don’t feel bad that you’re not at home. Do what you can with all that you have. Fill your place where you are. Be there. Fully.
4 Let go of perfect
Too many parents put too much pressure on themselves and their children. It’s good to have standards and work toward common family goals but if perfect is your standard then you need to let it go. Getting the job done just good enough is all that is needed. Most of the time you’re the only one that will notice the difference anyway.
What’s the worst thing that can happen if your laundry isn’t folded exactly the way you want it to? Or if you forgot to mop the floor or do the dishes? Who cares? We know this is a tough one for many because we’re so used to creating an image of ourselves and our family but the sooner you’ll be able to let some of this go, the smoother sailing your every day life will be.
5 Get organised
Planning things in advance for times that are particularly hectic, such as mornings will save time and make your mornings less stressful. If something can be done the night before – laying out your children’s clothes and making sandwiches for their lunchboxes, for instance – you might want to give it a try.
You could also try and create a family schedule that includes reminders from appointments, family events, birthdays and school activities to household chores and dates when bills need to be paid. You could make your own calendar and put it somewhere everyone will see it – on your fridge, for instance – or use a calendar app that will sync to everyone’s smartphone (try Google calendars).
6 Save time for your partner
Being an entrepreneur and a parent has its own challenges and one tends to focus on work and children so the ‘important’ things are done. They can take up all of your time. But even though our partners are very understanding, try to carve out time for your partner. Without the kids, not talking business. Not only is this beneficial for your overall connection, but research shows that people that have solid partnerships do better in business are more successful in all area’s in life.
Even if you have to set a date weeks ahead, do it. It might feel like an appointment looking at it in your calendar but when you get there you will thank yourself and your partner will be forever grateful. Start off with scheduling 1 night out a month. If you can do more than definitely do more. It will help you to reconnect and appreciate each other’s company again. Many couples lose sight of the importance of putting their relationship first when they have busy family lives, but it doesn’t have to be like that. It takes a bit of planning and prioritizing but it is always worth the effort!
7 Look after yourself
With so much going on and so much to think about it can be easy to put yourself last. But we all know that we can’t pour from an empty cup. It is so important to make a priority of yourself. Feeling good and balanced, both mentally and physically is what will get you through those late nights and long entrepreneurial days. We want you to feel strong and healthy and realize that your body can just take so much ‘hard work’. Here are a few things you can do to boost your well-being, even if you’re ridiculously short on time:
Nourish yourself and eat healthy
It may be tempting to live off takeaways and your children’s leftovers, but eating a nutritious diet will help you to cope with stress. You don’t have to cook elaborate meals, just something simple made from fresh, wholesome ingredients.
Be physically active
Try to do something active every day, as exercise can help to reduce stress levels and combat other mental health problems such as low mood and fatigue.
Get enough rest
Make time for sleep and you time. Burning the midnight oil is tempting and you there will be days that you will but this should not be a regular practice. Give your body and mind to replenish and recharge.
Ask for support
Recognize your limits and ask for help when you need it. Don’t try to be superman or superwoman; it’s perfectly acceptable to lean on those who can support you every now and then.
Parenting is not the easiest job on the planet, and some even say it’s the hardest. Regardless of who is parenting, we know what it’s like to juggle kids and work. But with everything we at The MDC truly believe that we need to be present first and foremost. For your family but mostly for you. To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today. And that can only be done by owning who you want to be as a human being. The good stuff will rub off.
To your wealth!
The MDC team.