Entrepreneurship is on the increase; more people than ever are creating their own businesses in a bid to combat insecure job markets and financial uncertainty. Building and maintaining a business are tricky enough to master, and throwing children into the mix complicates matters even further. Many new businesses are launched from kitchen tables and spare bedrooms, but how can we balance caring for our families with nurturing our new enterprise? Here are a few suggestions by successful online coach and super mum, Rikke Hundal to get you on the path to harmony.
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Schedule times for specific tasks (and stick to them)
Our lives are set to a timetable at school, but as adults, we have a habit of banishing them from our lives. By embracing those neatly blocked-out time periods, we’re able to visualise the work we need to do, both for our homes, and our lives. Create a timetable each week, if necessary, and stick it up in a place that every family member will see; the fridge door is a great place! Also, do explain to your little ones why it is important that they respect the times you have scheduled for work.
If your kids are out at school, utilise this time to get your business work completed. Laying out clear boundaries with our children is very useful, but things happen, and interruptions are part of every parent’s life. By planning around when our families will be in the house, we can maximise the hours we have to ourselves.
Housework can be done when the family is home, and giving chores to kids is a great way of teaching them responsibility and collaboration. Chores can be done in exchange for their allowance, giving them a lesson in money management and financial freedom. Household tasks can even be turned into games. Don’t laugh, it’s true. Apps such as Habitica and Do It Now have been developed to gamify daily tasks, turning them into a mechanism to gain digital rewards. You could get together to create a do-it-yourself version by assigning points to each chore which are then exchanged for rewards. Get the kids to create avatars and draw pictures to represent each task and reward. Track progress on a chart.
Get outside help
If you really struggle to make time to get all of your tasks done, consider bringing somebody in to help out. You may need to sit down and work out the cost implication of not completing your tax return on time versus paying an accountant. Paying a babysitter to look after the kids may enable you to leave the house for a couple of hours, meaning you will process those backed-up orders faster and bring in a bigger income.
Something as simple as paying for a cleaner to come in for a couple of hours can bring some peace of mind, as you won’t be weighed down by floors that need to be mopped, and toilets in dire need of a scrub. Sometimes, financial outlay is far outweighed by the mental/emotional payoff that the extra time will bring you.
Involve children in the business
You could introduce small tasks that bring your kids into your business world. They could open mail, file documents, pack boxes and so forth. Set aside some time to show them how to do what you're asking of them, and be patient with any mistakes they make. It’s easy to fall into the “It’s quicker to just do it myself” mindset, but an initial investment of your time can alleviate some pressure in the long-term. Depending on their age, you can even pay them as a tax-deductible expense; check with your local government for full details.
Embrace your parenthood
If a client or supplier has to come to the house, invite their kids to come with them. Extend a business meeting for you into a playdate for your children. You could even have the meeting at a restaurant with a play area.
If your friends and family offer to look after the kids for you, take them up on their offer. As much as we all want to be seen as capable and independent, nobody can do everything without a bit of assistance, every now and then. If the offer has been made but you’re not sure of the sincerity of it, ask them! You’ll be able to tell if they were just paying lip-service, or if they genuinely want to give you a helping hand.
Meal prep and batch cooking
Start planning and prepping ahead to give you more time during the week. If you make fresh lunches every day, perhaps wake up fifteen minutes earlier and throw a meal into the slow cooker for dinner that evening. When cooking an evening meal, make extra so that the leftovers can be taken for packed lunches. Carve out a couple of hours each month to batch cook meals, and freeze them so that you always have something that can be heated and served in a short time. You can even combine this with family bonding time; spend an afternoon picking your own fruit and vegetables as a family. Bake together. Create shopping lists or audit the kitchen cupboards together. Sit together and create a meal plan for the week together. They’ll get to spend time with you, and will likely appreciate you involving them in the day-to-day running of the house.
Give yourself a break!
Yes, you want to be Super Parent, but ultimately, you are a human being who is capable of failure as well as success. Nobody is perfect, and beating yourself up every time you miss a piano recital or football match serves absolutely no purpose, and it will leave you feeling drained and guilty. Reassure your children of your love for them, and explain why you're sometimes not able to fulfil your promises. Show them your infallibility, your humanity, and show them that vulnerability takes strength. Keeping them informed displays your respect for them, and though it may be difficult for them to accept, in time, they will appreciate that you have always taken the time to make sure they understand why things are the way they are.
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