I am really excited to announce our next blog series: Being a parent while running a small business. For many of us, we are trying to juggle owning a small business while also jugging family and trying to find balance between the two. This probably looks different for all of us, and we all have our own reasons for choosing this path. For the next few weeks, we are featuring other parents on the blog and their stories of why they choose this adventure and how the mange. I am going to kick it off with a post of what I do to try and find balance between running my businesses, while at the same time, find time for my family.
If you haven’t read the About section, Hi! I’m Desirae, owner of Mini Backdrops. I really wanted to share a picture of my family. Don’t worry, we are not pirates, this is just a family picture we took during a Halloween part this past fall. As you can see, my family isn’t what you call small. We are a family of 6, plus 2 cats.
As you can imagine, our everyday is super busy. Having 4 kids under the age of 6 is crazy. Crazy fun, crazy busy and at times crazy stressful! Add in the fact that I currently run two small business and life gets interesting on a whole new level. I’m going to be honest a balance between family life and work life is hard, and to be even more honest, I some times fail at it. But her are 4 things I do to stay on top of it all.
Make a work schedule
When you own your own business, and one that you work from home, it is easy to get into the idea of.. I can just work whenever I need to. I don’t need a schedule. For me, this ALWAYS ends in me frustrated with lack of time for work, or lack of time with my family. Now I am lucky, all my kids are in daycare or preschool. Personally, I could not manage without it. But to make sure that I am not taking too much time away from them, I have set hours for myself. And I really limit my work time on the weekends and try to give myself at least one full day off a week. Once I have decided on my hours for a week. That’s it. When time is up, time is up. It is hard some days… but honestly since doing that I am able to focus more on my kids when I am with my kids, and when I come back to work I am clear headed. Breaks are important. It is too easy to burn out, which doesn’t help your business and doesn’t help your family.
Make a plan/lists
Each week I make a plan and list of task and goals I want to accomplish each week with work. I think go further and plan those items into each day. I do my best to not over schedule myself. I try and keep it realistic. Also, unless it is something pressing or something important that comes up mid week, I do not add additional things to my lists/plans. I prioritize things as well. For example some days I don’t get everything done on my list. So I move things into other days, and drop things that can wait to next week. If I get all my things done in a day. I take a break from work. And I can do it guilt free because I know that I have planned a time to get the other things done. I use this time either for self-care (do something for myself, and only myself) or spend some extra time with my kids, or catching up on house stuff.
Like work, we also have a weekly and monthly plan for getting stuff done in the house. We print of checklists every week, where there are daily tasks (dishes, laundy…etc) then each day of the week we have different cleaning things. We plan out a month at a time to make sure we get all parts of the house. This has helped so much with keeping the house looking like a bomb went off all the time, which in turn helps me be able to focus on my work because I am not worring about cleaning the house all the time. The kids have daily tasks as well, such as taking all their toys back to their rooms each day and making their beds. As they get older they will be able to help more. I have also just come to accept that I need to schedule at least an hour every day to clean up the house and do laundry. It is just the way it is.
Schedule family time. Like intentional family time. Hide the phones, turn off the computers. It is so easy to get wrapped up in all the activities, cleaning, working, homework, everyday life where you are spending your time together with your family. For us, that is not family time. We try to take one day on the weekend where we are available for our kids without distraction. For us, for this to happen, we need to either get out of the house, or plant ourselves on the floor in their bedroom where we are free from distractions. We really like taking the kids out for walks. Even if it is only for 15 minutes it makes a hug difference on everyone’s mood. We have recently been so caught up with work in our family that we have decided to devote one day of the weekend to not cleaning, and just leaving it open to go out and do something together with our kids. We are all happier for it. Also… family always comes first. If your customers can not understand that… that is too bad. I have always been very honest with my customers about this, and it never had been a problem (yet).
Some weeks you just have to accept it is not going to go according the plan. For example this week I had a sick one home, which meant no work for me for 2 days. This meant I needed to work on the weekend. For example it is Sunday, and this post was supposed to be done Thursday. By learning to accept this really helps me to not caught up on the stress of it all. So instead of getting all stressed out over loss of work time, I take a deep breath, discuss with my husband on how we can change of the schedule to let me get caught up with missed work. Sometimes this means working for a couple of hours on the weekend. Other days it means working for a couple of ours after the kids go to bed, or getting up early to get in some time. So even though I have a schedule and I try to stick with it, I am also flexible with it when I need to be.
For me, finding balance between running a family and running a business has really been about organization and making the choice to not allow myself to feel the need to work all the time. Giving myself a schedule has really helped with this. And honestly, by limiting my working hours, I get a lot more accomplished in a shorter amount of time. I focus a lot more, work a lot quicker because I know I only have a set amount of time to get things done each day, and more importantly I am not burned out on business thinking!
Tell me in the comments below any tips you have for keeping things running smoothly and balancing family and business life.
This post is part of our Parenting and Running a Small Business Series. Check out other posts in this series: