Spoiler alert: running a business and being a full time mom isn’t easy, and there is no easy answer in this blog post.
However, I know I have a lot of readers on this blog who are women thinking of starting a business but who are also raising a young family. If you’ve read my About section you’ll know that I have a young daughter (later edit: now I have three children!), and that I launched the business when she was just a baby.
What I will try and do is keep this short and sweet (I get it: you’re busy!) and give you a few helpful hints and practical tips that have helped me over the years.
Find your quiet hours
As any mother can testify, the concept of a quiet hour appears completely at odds with the reality of parenthood.
However, have a look at your week and find the handful hours that are kid-free. This time will typically be when they are sleeping or napping, unless you are blessed to have family close by who help with the childcare.
Dedicate a set number of those quiet hours to your business and use that small time as productively as possible by planning ahead – 2 hours quality time can get you as far in your business as an 8 hour distracted day can.
My quiet hours are 5am-6.30am. This isn’t for everyone, but I’ve always been a morning person and a cup of coffee usually gets me through.
My iPod is one of the most important tools for my business. When I was breastfeeding a hungry newborn for hours at a time, my iPod kept me in touch with the rest of the world and allowed me to get things done.
So make sure you use mobile technology in a way that can help you juggle the demands of business and family life.
Put quality time ahead of quantity
Like many mothers, I found myself asking whether I was spending enough hours with my daughter at such a precious stage in her life. That was, until I realised that what my daughter needs from me isn’t a quantity of time but high quality time.
So I try to plan ahead to ensure the time we spend together as a family is something she’ll really enjoy. So that might be something as simple as a trip to the park, a walk in the forest, or a messy day of painting in the house.
Try to avoid negative thoughts about the time you are spending away from your family on your business and instead look at ways you can maximise the time you do spend with them.
Set yourself realistic goals
If you are trying to balance the demands of family life and a new business, you need to be realistic about how much you are going to get done in the average week.
For too long, I planned out my business week with ambitious goals, in the mindset that I needed to have a launch strategy and growth strategy as big and impressive as a high profile startup.
I still achieved a lot but I found myself under far less pressure when I made my goals more realistic.
And remember. Even if you have little funding for your startup, you can still outsource the odd thing to try and progress a little faster. Sites such as fiverr.com offer a fantastic array of low cost, good quality services for a new business.
Take time for yourself
I’m in daily contact with wonderful networks of bright, powerful, successful business women. And every single day I see one of us asking the same question:
Am I doing enough?
For us women, one of our beautiful strengths, but also the one that gives us the biggest challenge, is our constant drive to be doing more for everyone around us.
Not only are we dedicated to our businesses, but we always want to be doing more in every aspect of our lives. We want to be there for our family. We want to support our friends. We want to help our community. We want a tidy house. And a slim figure. And we shower ourselves with guilt if we think we might not be doing enough.
How much good are you doing in your own world if you don’t stop to make time for yourself occasionally? You are no help to anyone, and no value to your business, if you are tired and stressed.
So the best thing you can do for you, your business and everyone around you is to take some time for yourself on a regular basis. Guilt-free time.