Finding the Balance: Business and Family Life
Trying to find the balance between running a business and family life is hard. Being a self employed working mum is a huge undertaking and responsibility. It can leave us feeling torn, exhausted and guilty.
The Office for National statistics state that there are 4.9 million mothers with dependent children in work in 2017, up from 3.7 million in 1996. The number of self employed parents has risen by over 30% in the last 6 years.
Further research shows that women are more likely to work part time and be self-employed.. it’s on the rise. So as a self-employed, “part time” working mum – what’s my thoughts on this subject…
It’s a constant battle between work and home…
When I was planning to become self employed I had a vision that I would tap away on my laptop whilst my child would play beautifully around my feet, occasionally showing me a dolly or two or we’d take a little break for lunch, she’d nap and it would all just work out…Who was I kidding! That’s something for the movies or an episode of Peppa Pig! That is not the reality!
It’s bad enough getting out of the house on a morning never mind working at home with your child in tow. My opinion is that, it is virtually impossible!
When my daughter was small, she was an intense baby – she had a dairy allergy so had to be held up right after feeds, she cried a lot (as did I!) and she needed me. It wasn’t until she was 13 months that I decided to become self employed (read my previous blog post to find out more) but it was clear from the start that I needed help. My ideal vision was not reality.
My husband works 12 hour shifts over 7 days, both day and night so help comes in the form of a childminder for 2 mornings a week and nursery for 1 morning. My daughter was having 2 hour naps 1-3pm so my logic was she will go from 8/9am until 1pm,I’ll pick her up, she’ll sleep till 3pm and that will buy me more time.
That works fine for a while but the dreaded time comes that the nap is now optional…she doesn’t always want it. Some days my husband is around to pick her up and care for her until I get home around 4/5pm, other days, my working day ends at 1pm.
The Mum Guilt…
I tried to fight this and work whilst she played or watch a bit of TV but the big gun came into play ….guilt. Yep, there I said it, I feel guilty. I feel guilty that Cbeebies or Peppa Pig is “babysitting” for a while, or I allow the house to become a huge tip because, it gets me some extra time to work.
Now she is two and a half, she has a personality. She closes the laptop, she says no mummy, put it down, and she’s right. It’s mummy time and work has to stop. I need to be “present”, if I’m working I’m working. If it’s mummy time, I’m mummy 100% (well 80% sometimes, I am human!).
How do I handle this?
I work after she goes to bed or before she wakes. Not every day but most of the time. This allows me to more present and cuts down the guilt and the stress of juggling.
At the moment, the child care bill is high enough so more childcare isn’t an option, plus, that’s one of the reasons for self-employment, I don’t want to work all day every day.
We work to live not live to work…
I want to spend time with my little person who grows and changes by the day. We have play dates, we have fun and we have family days in the middle of the week because we are not a traditional Monday to Friday family. We work our family around work and we make the best of it.
There are ways you can try to make it easier…
I’ll share these golden nuggets with you…
Plan your days around your available childcare
Don’t try to make it fit the other way. You only have the specific time available. Look at your day, look at your routine, your child’s routine and work your schedule that way. Working early morning or in the evening may a good place to grab a few hours, if you can.
Make your time count
Cluster meetings, have 1:1s on set days, plan out your tasks in advance of the day beginning. Looking at your week, on a Sunday evening works well, get the birds eye view and plan it out: work, family and home.
Systemise your business and look at ways you can streamline it as much as possible to save precious time.
Set up a simple project management tool so you know exactly what you need to be doing and when. I use ClickUp to manage my whole business and life!
Make home life as easy as possible
If you are responsible for the house keeping/chores too, then make amendments.If you can afford to, get a cleaner, that’s one job less to do.
Get groceries delivered or do click and collect. If you do on line shopping, add the items as you go along (when you run out of stuff so you don’t miss anything. Get your other half to do this too)
Do batch cooking so that you’ve got a quick healthy meal to hand on heavy days.
Wash daily to keep the basket down. If you’ve got a timer, set it to come on and be done for when you get up.
Look ahead for birthdays, anniversaries and celebrations and buy all the cards and gifts for the next month or two ahead. Always have a stash of “general” cards, stamps, gift bags so you can send out that unexpected card in flash. This works well with a bottle of something and chocolates too (try not to eat/drink them like I do!)
Me time is so important
It’s easy to forget about yourself. Make sure you are scheduling in your diary your “me time”, whether it’s a yoga class or a long hot soak, put it in the diary. Make the commitment to yourself. You need it, you deserve it. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Get organise the night before
Get yourself set up the night before for the next day. Get all the clothes out (ironed, if needed!), kettle and coffee at the ready, lay out things ready for breakfast, make the lunches, get food out of the freezer for dinner, pack the bags. Whatever you can do will make life easier because you never know what the morning will bring – a major meltdown or a poonami can throw the whole morning into chaos. A chaotic start can set the scene for the day.
Before you shoot me down, I’m not discounting Dad’s here. You do a great job too, maybe some of these tips will help you as well. I’m just giving my perspective as a self-employed working mum.
Coffee is calling me…until the next time.
If you want to chat about how streamlining your business can help juggling parenthood, running a business and finding that balance between business and family life then please get in touch