Do you ever feel you’re being pulled in several different directions as you try to balance family and work? The value of “work-life balance” is something we hear about so often but have you stopped to consider a plan that might help you achieve it? You may be trying to balance the demands of being a mom while still running your design business. Or you may be juggling your business while being a caregiver for one or more family members. These are common challenges for women business owners and often cause feelings of guilt. You may feel when you are in business mode you are neglecting your family and then when in family mode you are not giving your business the attention it needs. The good news is that there are ways to handle both jobs successfully.
Don’t try to be a superwoman!
Address areas where you can get help:
- Consider hiring someone to help clean and do laundry. If you can pay someone else to do these things it allows you to spend more quality time with your family while still having more time to spend on your business. Having more time to focus on your business can improve your bottom line – which helps to pay for that extra help. Think about your own “hourly rate” – does it cost more to hire someone or to spend your billable time doing housework?
- Consider engaging your children in helping you both at home and in your business. Younger children can feed pets, put labels on mailers, stuff envelopes, etc. Older children can file, organize the sample area, make lunches for everyone, etc. Use their creativity and engage them in brainstorming ideas for your marketing or other areas of your business. You are creating the opportunity to make them feel they are contributing and also building good work ethic.
Your calendar can become your best friend – really!
- Look ahead at your week and most likely there are things that need to happen at the same time, like pick up the kids from school, baseball practice, etc. and block that time out with enough before and after.
- Then look at family appointments that just may apply to the upcoming week and do the same on a weekly basis.
- Include time blocked out on your calendar to spend quality time with your family and friends. Schedule and treat those times as you would with clients – no phone calls or other business interruptions.
- Combine your to-do lists for family and work but keep them short so they don’t become overwhelming. Then take that to-do list and block out time on your calendar. Consider what items might be combined with time spent with your children – can you take them with you on some of these errands? If you are a caregiver, could you take the individual you’re caring for with you to give them an outing while spending time together and checking off some of the items on your list? Similarly, try to be efficient with your tasks and structure your day so you don’t have to backtrack, if possible.
- Don’t forget to calendar time in for yourself – whether it’s quiet time with a book, time spent walking in nature, time at the gym or pool, or whatever you consider “me time”.
- Again, your calendar can be your best friend. Use the blocks of time when the kids are out of the house to address work-related activities that need uninterrupted time. This can be financials, putting together work orders, client and other business correspondence – anything that could suffer from interruptions.
- Accept that there will be interruptions/distractions when work and child care/caregiving duties overlap. Rather than feeling guilty by pushing them off, take a short time for a hug, or to address the question. Brushing off your loved ones repeatedly will only leave them upset.
- If you’re in the middle of something that can’t be interrupted, be honest and explain you can’t stop right then, and plan for a time later to address their issue. Boundaries are a two-way street.
- When there is no flexibility for quiet time, make a sign for the door of your office that indicates when you are on the phone and need “quiet time”. For younger children, make a game out of it so they understand what “the sign” means, and when it is on the door, they need to be quiet. If background noise is still unavoidable, take solace in the fact that phones and services like Zoom do a wonderful job of suppressing background noises.
Learn to Say No
Learn to embrace the value of saying “no”! Realize that you can’t do everything – again, you are not a superwoman! You will find a sense of relief once you learn to say “no”. It may feel bad to turn down opportunities for your business. But your mental health and relationship with the people you care about should take precedence. Besides, you may find that clients and business partners are more than willing to reschedule or renegotiate responsibilities if you bring up a concern.
Value Your Accomplishments
When looking to expand design teams, we usually recommend the definite advantage of hiring moms. They are usually very good at organizing their days and making the most effective use of their time, so recognize this about yourself. Take an honest look at your accomplishments while running a household and a business. Realize that those accomplishments will be seen by your children and they will learn from what they see: a confident, successful businesswoman. In fact according to Forbes Magazine, “A Harvard study showed that adult women whose mothers worked or were entrepreneurs grew up to be better performers in the workplace and earn more money — in fact, 23% more — than their counterparts who grew up with stay-at-home moms who didn’t earn an income.” So be the role-model you want your children to see!