mother holding baby while working on computer

How 2 balance being a parent and an entrepreneur


By Keri Garland, Outsourcing expert

17th August 2017

Summary:

Are you an entrepreneurial parent, struggling daily to find balance between home, work and family? Here are some great advisory steps that can be implemented in your home, business and family to help you juggle life as a parent and still grow as an entrepreneur.

Outcomes:

  • Learn how to be a good parent and a good entrepreneur at the same time
  • Learn how to build your support system
  • Learn how to manage the chaos, delegate and outsource

Steps

Step 1: Decide what really matters.

The most important thing is to discover your “why?” - The reason you want(ed) to be an entrepreneur. We all have different motivation for starting our own businesses. Personally it was create the freedom to raise my children, with them having no doubt that I would always be there for them when they need me.

Deciding on your “why”, or rediscovering and affirming it is crucial, as it is the driving force and foundation of your success. If you are still struggling to find it, then list the pros and cons of having you own business.

Once you know why you are in your own business, be it financial freedom, schedule flexibility, being a single parent , hating the corporate game, it will provide the base for you to prioritise:

What do you need to get done daily, weekly and monthly to meet your goals? Now we are talking about physically writing out more lists I am afraid, as silly as it sounds.

To get a view of your big picture, you need to focus on one megapixel at a time!

Step 2: Prioritise and simplify

What matters? To YOU, not to everyone else!

If given the choice between blow-drying my own hair, or looking like a pumpkin patch child because my son has done it and giggled the whole way through, I know which one I would chose, which one would you?

Your motivation should remain consistent in all aspects of your life.

Somewhere along the line you need to split down your list into family, home, work, and play (personal relationships be it friends or family that make the slog worth it), and this is the time to do exactly that.

Expand on the list and you will find that though family may be your number one priority, work second, and home third, with play being last, the occasional urgent home maintenance may shift to the top of the list. It’s a constant daily priority check that needs to be done.

Consistency is the key to prioritising.

Remember just because you need get the tree removed from the driveway urgently, it does not mean you cannot combine the activity with marketing your own business services to the owner of the removal service, or giving the kids a plastic rake and cleaning up the mayhem that the tree has left on your pristine driveway.

Let’s just throw this out there, no one cares about the leaves on your driveway, but your kids will have fun doing it with you and you have the success of achieving combined priorities in one task.

A pearl of wisdom for you….”nothing will ever be pristine again once you have had children.”

The key is to prioritise smartly:

It costs me less in time and petrol to order my monthly groceries online and have them delivered than it did spending three hours in a queue buying washing powder and milk. Best of all, I can do it at 10pm from bed instead of on a Saturday morning when I’d rather be taking my kids to the theatre.

Find ways to make things easier and use others’ strengths to help you:

My darling domestic worker has expressed an interest in cooking. For R60 a book I have bought her simple healthy cookbooks, she now writes out the shopping list and cooks twice a week. Next month, I’m going to have a double thick extra creamy coffee shake with my kids while she does the shopping and we will meet her at the check-out! Why not!?

Start thinking about outsourcing the tasks in your business that are not the core of your business, The easiest of these to start with are admin and bookkeeping. It takes an expert less time to process your books than it takes you to struggle through the same task. This will save you a fortune of time and allow you more time for your business and family.

Step 3: Schedule and organisation

Get the ground work done RIGHT, from the start. Be organised and have everything in black and white, from your business’ job descriptions to policies and procedures, preferred suppliers for maintenance in your home and parents lists and activity schedules at school. Once you gain momentum, having this groundwork firmly in place will be essential.

I have been told for try follow countless times, and I completely agree with, Stephen Coveys’: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put things first
  4. Think win-win
  5. Seek first to understand then to be understood
  6. Synergise
  7. Sharpen the saw

Look at your schedule daily, weekly and monthly and schedule a time for each item on the list that you have sorted in order of priorities. Remember to do one task off your long term goals list weekly, or those tasks will never get done.

Try send yourself voice notes while you are running around during the day and things come to mind and at the end of each day, spend ten minutes slotting them into the schedule for the next day, or week to come.

Use a diary if you are old fashioned (do it in calligraphy if you must) or an app like Remember the Milk or even Outlook calendar. When it is in black and white in front of you it is so much easier to take out what doesn’t matter, and group tasks together to create a better flow, saving time.

Build a team to help keep you on track and focused on your business, home and family success. You don't need to take on a full time salary when you only need help with a few non-core business tasks. Engage an expert on a retainer basis and delegate...now get back to what matters.

Step 4: Flexibility, mobility and multi-tasking

Leave space for disasters, believe me they are bound to happen at some stage:

Have a backup plan to your back up plan.

Create a support system-

Many of us may not have family to help out, but we all have great friends and colleagues.

Don’t forget about other parents in the same position at school. Create a lift club - one morning of each week may be chaos but you have four more where you can get started two hours earlier.

Ask yourself, do your kids really care who drops them off in the morning or would they rather you have family breakfast with them before they go to school?

Keep a slot in your schedule for ad hoc tasks. They will pop up and we would hate for you to be in a flat panic because you haven’t scheduled a time for the client emergency that arises.

Be mobile, create a portable office. Use the Wi-Fi at MacDonald’s on Saturday morning while the kids play to do your admin on your iPad, just remember that when they come back to the table to PUT IT DOWN!

Forward your email to your phone when you are out of the office, but keep your notifications on silent and don’t allow interruptions unless you choose to set aside a moment to look and deal with a few quick mails.

Save time, try not to travel. If you can work from home one day of each week, you could have created an extra two hours in your week that you haven’t wasted in the car.

Lump your meetings together so you can get into the swing of things without losing momentum.

I have been known to drop my kids at school, get bread and milk, meet an Office Execs client for coffee and go to the bank, all before 9:15am.

Step 5: Find your balance

Fuel your body
Not even Superwoman can run on air alone. And certainly not functioning at the level you need to keep all your balls in the air (or most).

Eat well and take a supplement. There is no excuse for not whipping up a smoothie to sip on during the morning traffic and swallowing a multi vitamin. Pack your kids healthy snacks for school and do one for yourself. Even if you are working from home, having a pre-packed meal in the fridge means you will eat, firstly, and you will eat something nutritious, secondly. Nothing motivates my kids more than seeing mum eating the same meal as them.

Schedule a twice a week bike ride for the kids and run through the park with the kids, or some other physical, family activity. Running after children is great exercise and when you feeling stronger, take the dogs along with you for the extra challenge! You don’t need the gym if you can’t find the time for it and this way the whole family can have fun.

Fuel your mind
Create a reading corner at home and encourage your kids to read or build a puzzle while you do the same. Three pages (before you are interrupted) of an inspirational book is more than you read yesterday. There are some amazing audio books available that you can play for the kids while they page through the pictures giving you some time to read, this might even earn you 5 pages of peace. The trick is getting your kids to do the things that you enjoy, and need (and let’s face it…deserve), with you.

Try audio books, or Buddhist chanting if that’s what calms you in the traffic.

Big gyms have amazing kids’ areas, and my children love going and often run into friends there. I may not look like a classy broad with a “paperback”, but I buy them just so I can take them into the sauna for 15 minutes (damp pages be damned), or on the stationery bike once or twice a week. We need to be creative about getting in our “me time”, but DO IT!

Step 6: (This is the big one) YOU can’t do it ALL, accept it and do what you can, but do it the BEST that you possibly can

Let’s face it, the lists you drew up was long, we are talking about toilet paper roll across the lounge floor long! No one can do it all (not on their own) so do what you can.

Simplify your life, cut out the nonsense and do the rest, well!

Do what matters to you, and those that matter around you! You cannot be an ace in everything all of the time, find YOUR balance.

Here’s some advice from other successful mom(and dad) entrepreneurs:

  • Ask lots of advice, from everyone - from the cleaner to the person with his MBA - what do you see that I don't see? How can we improve? What is your experience? Help me put myself in your shoes. Seek constructive criticism. You're not perfect. You only have 2 eyes and 1 brain - use their experience
  • Establish a policy of transparency. Openness and honesty facilitates growth and makes relationships sustainable.
  •  You can only achieve something when you stop complaining about everything.
  •  Maria Montessori said: "Get rid of pride and anger." The point being, it's not about me, my opinion or my ego. It's about the greater good.
  •  Love people sincerely. Without them you are nothing.
  •  Organisation, focus, a good helper and time out / fun time / relaxation for YOU is the most important part of the equation. Who is going to do the juggling if you are (wo)man down? Spin the plates you can, the irreplaceable ones, and drop the rest that don’t matter.
  •  Don't be scared, go with your gut. Stop pushing and let go (sometimes). Deal with the here and now.
  •  TREASURE your support structure. Invest in them. Be they your helper at home, your au pair, your family, employees or friends… Express your sincere gratitude and see how you can build them up. The more you love them, the more they will love you, the more support you will have, the stronger you will be.
  •  Consolidate and simplify - Expect your kids to help, contribute and clean up after themselves.
  •  Figure out how much you have capacity for and stick to it - if you can only do two social things on a weekend so you still get enough down time to recharge for Monday, stick to it.
  •  Cancel your TV subscription. TV wastes time. Invest in games to play with your kids and build family connection, rather than watching TV with them.
  •  Eat together at the table - at least one meal a day and talk to your family. They are dying for your attention.
  •  Have play dates at your house, so you can get to know the friends and influences your child is attracting, and keep them under your nose. Then you can send the kids off to their houses once a month, think of what you can do with a morning off! The possibilities are endless!
  • Stop trying to do everything yourself, learn how to delegate and outsource simple functions that others can do for you in your life and your business.
About The Author

Keri Garland

Keri Garland is a successful businesswoman and owns an Outsourced Staffing Company called Office Execs. Her specialist team will do your office tasks, payroll, accounting, secretarial services and HR management, so you can focus on your core business. Packages suitable for SME's. www.officeexecs.co.za