One of the biggest reasons that I own my own business is that I wanted a job that would allow me to be there for my kids when they need me, at-home with them when they were babies, and before and after school as they get older. Being a work-at-home mom definitely has huge benefits. I set my own schedule, so when I first started my business I saved on child care by keeping my little one home with me using just a part-time nanny, and now that my kids are in Preschool & Elementary school I can volunteer in the classroom, be there for every school event, take them to after-school extra-curriculars, doctor appointments, etc. I love knowing that I can be there for them when they need me. BUT along with those benefits come significant challenges.
It can be a huge struggle juggling life as a business owner and a mom. I know that I’m never managing everything perfectly, or finding “balance.” I don’t believe that balance can truly exist. You will never be able to give what you feel is your very best to either your business or your children, but I do believe that you can give ENOUGH to both. You don’t have to be the perfect mom or most successful business owner. You just have to do the best you can. Over the years, I’ve created a few strategies to help me be the best mom and business owner I can be. I hope these tips help you do the same.
1. Set Boundaries
I know that this can be so hard at first. But you need to set business hours. These may only be early in the morning, during nap time, and after your littles are in bed, BUT those hours should be for business only! And vice versa, family time is for your family. Don’t take a call or send an email while you are taking care of your kids. And please remember that even though you are working at home, you are a business owner, NOT a stay-at-home-mom. DO NOT even think about cleaning, laundry, or grocery shopping during your business hours.
2. Write Daily Goals
At the end of each day I write down what I want to accomplish the following day. In the morning I try to tackle the items that are the most difficult or require the most focus first.
3. Kill the Time-Wasters
Try to identify what wastes a lot of your time each day. We all have a time waster or two: facebook, email, phone calls from friends or family. Whatever it is you get distracted by, do your best to eliminate it, or give it a scheduled block of time each day.
4. Get Help
The most helpful thing I ever did for my business when my second child was a baby was to hire a part-time nanny. She came in 2-3 days a week and allowed me to have time to work without having to put him into daycare. I felt secure knowing that he was getting excellent care right on the other side of my office door. This allowed me the freedom to schedule appointments, take phone calls, and work without interruption. Now, I get the entire school day to work during the week, and when I’m working on a weekend, my husband takes care of the kids and household chores.
5. Schedule Time Off
Schedule at least one weekend off a month to spend time with family. If you don’t schedule family time, you’ll end up working every weekend and your kids and husband will not be happy, and neither will you. I take every Sunday off, and every other weekend off entirely.
Lastly, I want you to give yourself permission to fail. I’m going to say that again, GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO FAIL. It’s going to happen, there will be days that are far from organized and productive. Things will go wrong, you will get behind, you will feel like you can never get everything done, you will feel overwhelmed, and you will shut down and not want to do a damn thing. On those days just take a break, enjoy a nap or an iced coffee and your favorite magazine. On those days, I want you to do exactly what you tell your kids to do — Just DO YOUR BEST and then accept that you will never get everything done, you will never feel 100% on top of everything in your life, and that is absolutely fine. No one is perfect, except maybe Oprah, and you don’t have to be Oprah, you just have to be the very best perfectly imperfect you.