Trying to balance your working life and family life can be tricky. There are times when you’ll be presented with the difficult decision of attending an extremely important business meeting or watching your child play their first soccer game of the season. These choices are always unpleasant and now matter how much we try to separate our business and working lives, they have to mix sooner or later.
While making these decisions is certainly unpleasant, it’s vital that you make the right decision that will ultimately benefit you and your family. Does striking this important deal help your children in the future, or will the thought of missing out on an important family outing make you regret it in the future? While this guide won’t be telling you how to make those decisions, it will tell you how you can run your own business while still making time for the kids.
Family time and business time
Separate them. That’s the first bit of advice that you’ll get. Don’t set yourself up on the dinner table or sofa with your business laptop while watching a film with the kids. You need to accept that you have to be in a proper state of mind if you want to work, and you should be giving your children your undivided attention when you spend time with them. The last thing you want is for your enthusiastic children to point out something like a funny scene on the television while you’re busy crunching numbers and sending angry emails. They don’t mix.
Set some time aside for your family. Put down the laptop, keep it in your study or bedroom, and spend some quality time with your children. Don’t mix them together because the emotions and thoughts can sometimes get muddled up, clouding your judgment and confusing you. One of the best ways to do this is to furnish your study or set aside a place in the home where you can focus in peace. Tell your children that they’re not allowed to disturb you while you’re in your working zone to teach them about discipline and priorities. Allow them some time to understand that life as an adult is all about responsibilities and that you need to have some time to yourself in order to provide for them.
Another great way is to set up a schedule. Although working at home means you can essentially decide your own working hours, it also means that you can easily get distracted and procrastinate. Even if you have flexible hours, set up a regular working schedule to keep your life in order. Wake up early to make your family breakfast and drive them to school, drive your partner to work, and then settle in and start working while the house is empty. Once it’s time to pick everyone up, put down your laptop, store it away, and close your business for the day. You should keep your phone with you in case there’s an emergency or something that requires your attention, but in general, set up working hours like you normally would for a regular job.
Know how to save time
Free time is somewhat of an illusion. Free time is just time that you don’t have anything planned for, so you can procrastinate freely or try to kill time with something productive. Instead of focusing on free time, focus on how you can save time on specific tasks. For instance, if you’re spending a lot of time each week on accounting, then consider using cloud accounting software. It’s easy to use, it’s straightforward and doesn’t cost much to use. If you’re slightly more advanced, then you could consider outsourcing your accounting needs. This is a great idea if you have a lot of income streams that need to be taxed, or if you have a lot of expenses that need to be calculated into your income tax payments (a tax calculator is useful for this). In short, the more complicated your operation, the more likely you’ll need a dedicated employee.
Outsourcing your tasks is a fantastic way to save precious time. Another good example of something to outsource is fully managed IT support. Even if you’re a tech-savvy individual, managing a business and the technology involved can be difficult. Trying to ensure your files are secure from invaders, finding ways to improve your business’s efficiency and developing software to help you run your home business will all be made easier with the help of IT support services. You can take a load off your mind, you can free up precious hours to spend with your family, and you’ll be surprised at how much more productive you can be during your work hours when you have less to worry about.
In short, time is money and your time is worth a lot when you have children to take care of. Don’t’ be afraid to use money in order to solve a problem faster so that you can spend more time with your children. Even if you want to save time for another reason, you shouldn’t be a stranger to the idea of hiring temporary help in order to relieve your business-related stress.
Make time for yourself
Time management is an incredibly important skill to have not just as a business owner, but a parent. When working from home, you have the opportunity to shift your schedule as problems come up. It could be something innocent, such as your children wanting to visit their friends after school, meaning you can delay picking them up a few hours later. This means you’ll have a little more peace and quiet during the afternoon and you can get some extra work done, making tomorrow a lighter day for you. Alternatively, you could spend that peace and quiet with your partner to spend some quality time together.
You should also make sure that you aren’t working hours that you normally wouldn’t at a 9 to 5 job. Working weekends is admirable and you’ll be making a lot more money if you are active during irregular business hours, but it’s important to remember that you still need a break. Make sure you reserve weekends and keep them open so you can spend time with your children, go on a break with your family, or even just relax at home to take your mind off of business issues.
Too much multitasking can be a bad thing
Although working at home gives you the opportunity to spend time with your family while you work, it’s never a good idea to multitask too much. Sure, you can spend time teaching your children how to do their math homework while you crunch numbers yourself, but don’t expect to do it too often due to the amount of mental strength it takes to focus on several different things. Although it might be possible for you to do so, you never want to stress yourself out too much to a point that you’re mentally fatigued.
Take on a task one at a time. Try not to overload yourself with various tasks and separate them enough so you can catch a break between each one. Help your children with their homework first, then use that momentum to crunch numbers and deal with your finances.
Entertain your children when they show interest
Although this article has already mentioned separating family and business time, there is one exception: when your children genuinely show interest in your work. If you’re running a business that has a lot of potential to become a brand that sticks, then there is no harm in teaching your children about the business that they could potentially be running in the future. Creating a family business is all about passing down principles and passions. By capitalising on what makes your business great, your legacy can be passed down to them when they eventually take over the business. However, if they don’t show interest, then that’s absolutely fine too. You can’t force children down a path that you pick them, but you can and should guide them if they are interested in what you do.
So next time your children ask what you’re up to, entertain them. Try and explain in childish terms what it is that you are doing and teach them about the world of business and what it is you do. Teach them big grown up words that they can use at school to impress their teachers, and show them what it means to be a responsible business owner. With some luck, your children might take a major interest in your work and even study business when they grow older in order to follow in your footsteps. You will essentially become their inspiration and motivation which is an uplifting and heartwarming feeling that any parent should be proud of. If that sounds like a fantastic idea that could make you retire in peace, then don’t neglect the importance of showing your children what you do and interacting with them when they show interest. Not only does it give you a topic of conversation to discuss with your children, it also feeds their curious and creative minds.