A colleague asked this very important question: “How do you build your business & run it from home when you have little kids to take care of?”
She went on to say that one of her main reasons for leaving a corporate 9 – 5 job was so that she can have more time with the kids. And yet, she needs to work.
So, how do you strike a balance?
1). Focused goal: Have something VERY specific you’re going to work on whenever you sit at your computer.
Don’t just go to the laptop because you have a free 1 hour — you’re likely going to spend that entire hour trying to figure out what you need to work on.
Instead, each time I go to my computer, I know exactly what I want to do.
What I’ve found is that the actual work does not take as much time as we make it appear; it’s the planning & figuring out that takes time.
And so I do that away from the laptop — while I’m doing random home chores.
It’s been a huge time-saver for me.
2). Minimize distraction by setting healthy boundaries: I greatly minimize interruptions by setting & maintaining clearly-defined boundaries — both with myself & with the kids.
Thankfully, they’re now at an age where they can talk & understand stuff; so they know what it means when I say, “Daddy is going downstairs to take a call; stay in your room & play with your toys.”
Everybody has their own opinion on how to discipline their children; but mine understand that they won’t come downstairs when Daddy is on a call.
I’ve spoken with several friends about this topic; and a huge part of the stress most of them face is that the kids don’t take them seriously & won’t listen to them.
So, even if they’ve explained to the kids that they’re working, they still come downstairs anyway or throw tantrums.
That’s the biggest source of distraction for most people.
3). Frequent intervals: Break up the time spent with the kids into regular intervals.
In my own case, I ensure that I leave space on my calendar after each client call or task; just to spend time with them.
For example: If I have a client call at 9 am – 10 am; my next call is at 11 am. That way, I get to spend time with them before the next work-related activity.
This helps me achieve balance by not leaving them alone for so long; cos that’s when they start looking for you & crying to get attention.
4). Cook & store: Not everyone is going to agree with this point ‘cos several people prefer to cook just at the time of eating; but again I’m simply giving you what has worked for me on a personal note.
By cooking in medium-to-large quantities over the weekend, I greatly reduce the time I spend in the kitchen during the work-week.
We don’t eat out (maybe once or twice a month). And so having food sorted is very critical to everything else.
5). Few social activities: We have very little social activity. Of course we meet the odd friend here & there; and the kids have their playdates or whatever; but it’s not something that happens everyday.
I know a friend who goes out with her kids EVERY SINGLE DAY; like 7 days a week; no exaggeration. I think that’s a bit too much in my opinion. By reducing our outings, we save a lot of time.
I think most people don’t understand how much time & energy it really takes to go out.
There’s mental planning, physical preparation, travel (no matter how short the distance), the actual hanging out, and then the time spent to recover from the outing.
A simple 2 hour hangout is very easily an extra 2 hours in all the other things that go into it.
6). Schedule everything: Whether it’s doing my business or running household errands, I schedule everything.
I even schedule things as mundane as mopping the floor or washing the bathroom; that’s the only way I keep from overwhelm.
Having a schedule (and keeping to it) is the best thing that can happen to you in this situation.
7). Accountability: Whether it’s private or public, you definitely will benefit from some form of accountability.
Co-working sessions could be really good if used consistently & productively — actually doing the thing you said you’d do.
You may also consider a more direct or personal accountability with your coach or accountability buddy.
8). Work with the kids: Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you could still find yourself with a kid on your lap when you’re trying to work.
What I do at such times if I really need to work is to carry out tasks that don’t require so much brain power to process.
That way, I’m rocking the child and still doing my work.
9). Get help: Finally, just get help.
It gets to a point where you just have to acknowledge that you can’t do it all on your own all of the time & get some help.
Many people struggle with this because it’s hard to delegate a task when you feel that you can do it better.
But the problem is, “Are you actually doing it?”
It’s up to you to decide what you outsource — house chores, cooking, social activities management, or business tasks such as website, email newsletter, content, marketing/ads; etc.
But whichever direction you choose to go, having support from someone (or people) can go a long way in freeing up some time for you and giving you some much-needed space to work and rest.
Wishing you well as you navigate this wild but beautiful journey.
Got any questions you’d love for me to answer or write about in the next post? Email me: [email protected]