There is nothing like a business growth stage to remind you of the constant struggle of work/life balance. After all, a successful business rarely leads to a lot of time with family, and a lot of time with family rarely leads to a successful business.
It’s a constant struggle, and you only need to look at the entrepreneurs you know and know of to see that there are many who have successful businesses, and many who have a great relationship with their family, but very few who seem to have both.
Get daily business news.
The latest stories, funding information, and expert advice. Free to sign up.
This is why so many seem to argue that you can’t have the best of both worlds and perhaps why many don’t take mumpreneurs seriously in business. But I don’t believe you have to choose one over the other, I think it just takes a lot of planning, prioritising and keeping yourself in check. So here are some tips to help you do just that.
Work out the best way for you to manage the two roles
Being able to balance both roles means you actually have to separate both your work and family roles. It is no easy feat for entrepreneurs, especially since we tend to work 24/7. While the lines of work and home can become invariably blurred, you still need separate time in each role so you can give each your complete focus.
Choose designated times for work and family and be committed to keeping them. In family time, shut down the computer, turn off your mobile, let calls go to voicemail and forget about your deadlines and to-do’s. You need to keep some boundaries impenetrable, especially when they are guarding your big priorities.
Say “yes” and “no” equally in both roles
Keep your priorities at the forefront of your mind and be honest with yourself in how each of your decisions will impact your family or your business.
To help you balance your roles, or at least stay true to your priorities, monitor the amount of times you say “yes” and “no” in each role. Is there a particular role you favour? Does it reflect your priorities? Does it negatively impact either of your roles? What do you need to do to address it?
Remember you run your business, it doesn’t run you
As much as it may feel like it sometimes, your business doesn’t control you. You are accountable for the decisions you make, so don’t let short-term urgencies unbalance your priorities. Remember that every sacrifice you make has a consequence somewhere in your life.
Develop a high-leverage business model
Leveraging your time, knowledge, money, influence and contacts really is the answer to work/life balance. You need to be working more effectively and efficiently so you get more done in less time, and you also need to be maximising the skills and resources of others so you cut down the amount of work you actually do.
Focus on ways to leverage in your business, build passive income streams, streamline, form alliances, delegate and outsource.
Understand that sometimes you will be seen as “choosing” one role over the other
This is perhaps the hardest part of the balance, accepting that sometimes your family will feel that when you are working you are choosing work over them. In your eyes it may not be the case, or the intention, to you, you are simply getting things done. Though to them, you are working and not spending that time with them.
Dealing with this effectively requires open communication with your family and often negotiation as to when you work and when you spend time with them. It is important that they feel listened to and that you try to work out an arrangement that is fair to both your roles.
Be present in whichever role you’re in
While the lines between work and family can become blurred at times, it’s important to be present and focused in whichever role you are currently in.
When it is family time make it quality time. Close the door on work, no matter how crazy it is, and just be with your family. This quality one-on-one time will help them see that they are an important priority regardless of how busy you are.
Likewise, have set work times that suit your schedule and be present in them too. Honour the work commitments you make, take pride in your work and allow yourself to enjoy what you do.
As mums in business, we can often feel much guilt over the amount of time we spend in our businesses and how much we enjoy it, especially since it can reduce the time we spend with our families. But business is an important part of our lives too and it often meets the needs that sometimes our mother role doesn’t, like being intellectually challenged, recognised for our efforts and valued for our input.
Your work/life balance will never look like one of those perfectly segmented pie graphs, in real-life there will always be an area that needs you more. So in a way I guess it is finding what level of imbalance you are happy with, while being mindful of your current priorities, making sure your schedule reflects them, and that it is fair to your family, your business and yourself.
How do you find your balance?