Finding a balance between being busy parents and successful entrepreneurs can often seem like an impossible task. There are often so many things you need to juggle in your day, with parental responsibilities, work demands, housework or chores and personal appointments.
But don't be dismayed — it's possible to combine being a parent with business success if you can set your boundaries, plan your time and seek help when you need it. We chatted with some experts who have lived to tell the tale and are sharing their tips so you can do the same.
Know When to Set Boundaries as a Busy Parent
One of the most difficult things to do when you have a million things on your plate is setting boundaries. It can be a real struggle to know, “when to set boundaries between working on their business and spending undivided quality time with their children,” says Linda Nguyen, a small business advisor for startups.
“Many times, we may physically be present for our children, yet mentally and emotionally, we may be focused on the business. There must be a clear division line to ensure our children know they have our full attention,” further explains Nguyen. While this can be difficult if you have a lot on your mind, setting clear boundaries is the first step to allocating your time better and being present in the moment.
You should take some time to think about your personal boundaries when it comes to dividing your time and attention. What are you willing to sacrifice for your time and how are you going to know when you’ve overstepped your values and standards? This may be different for everyone, but it can help you more easily create schedules and routines to keep you on track.
Plan Ahead and Schedule Your Week
Anyone in business will tell you that having a plan and schedule for your week will make you more productive and less stressed. “Workweeks are typically the busiest times for most of us. You can reduce the tension of the upcoming week by planning for Monday’s arrival,” suggests Frederic Linfjard, Director of Growth Marketing at Planday.
In a study of entrepreneurial mothers, 47 percent said that stress was the biggest challenge they came up against. If you’re able to spare some time on the weekend to plan ahead and make a schedule for your week, you’ll likely be more organized and productive with how you spend your time. This can hugely reduce your stress going into a new working week.
There are several ways you can schedule your week ahead and get your kids involved as well, such as using a planner. This way you can reduce the likelihood of clashes between family and work commitments.
Tips for planning your week ahead:
Post a family calendar on the fridge for everyone to use.
Meal plan or prep for the week ahead with a weekly meal planner.
Make extra meals on Sunday to store them in the freezer or organize grocery deliveries.
Use a diary, planner or mobile app so you can incorporate your work and family commitments into one schedule.
Ensure your kids are involved in planning the week so everyone is aware of the schedule.
Set clear time allocations for work, family and personal and try not to allow any cross-over so you can give your full attention when needed.
Allocate and Prioritize Your Time
Another aspect of being a parent and successful business owner is allocating and prioritizing your time. This goes hand in hand with setting boundaries and planning a schedule for the week ahead, but it is an important point of emphasis. You should take time to understand what, when and how much of your time will be allocated to your job, business and family. This may look different for everyone’s personal circumstances and at different times of your career.
For example, if you’re still working full time and trying to balance your family while starting your own business on the side, time becomes very important. “There are a couple of options here. On weekdays, they can work on the business after their children go to bed so that dinner is family time. On weekends, they can allocate one weekend day for the family and one weekend day towards the business, or a 50/50 time split per day,” says Nguyen.
It’s all about allocating your time according to what you want to achieve and your values. In fact, in a survey done by Xero, 58 percent of entrepreneurs said spending evenings with their families is crucial for them, while 55 percent agreed that it’s important to try and keep weekends for loved ones.
“By sticking to your weekly plan and finishing the tasks within your time allocations, you can spend quality time with your family,” explains Brandon Walsh, founder at Dads Agree.
Create a Support Network
Even if you have a detailed weekly schedule, you may start to become overwhelmed with all the commitments and things you need to do. However, successful entrepreneurs have rarely made it all by themselves; most of them had help or support.
“If you’re a parent who’s trying to do it all, including working a full-time job, you will burn out very quickly unless you have some help,” says Rebecca Lake, founder at Boss Single Mama.
Creating a support network around you is one of the best ways to cope with being a parent and entrepreneur at the same time. You’re not expected to magically be able to do everything on your own.
“Whether that means hiring a housekeeper, asking your spouse or partner to pitch in more with chores, child care or dropping the kids off with grandparents one day a week, that help can be so beneficial for your productivity and for your mental health,” suggests Lake. Your support network might look very different to someone else’s, but it’s all about getting the help you need to relieve stress however you can.
Bring Your Kids Into Your Work
While separating your family and work is a great way to manage your time and attention, there are also some benefits to including your children in your work. This may not necessarily suit everyone, but if there’s some way to get your children involved when they’re old enough, they too may reap some rewards.
“It’s a great way to teach them real-world skills,” suggests Nguyen. They can learn so many things on the job with you that can’t be taught in a classroom, and it can also be a special bonding experience.
In fact, entrepreneurship can inspire your children. A study by 99designs found that 43 percent of entrepreneurs had at least one parent who ran their own business and 82 percent of parent entrepreneurs said they would actively encourage their own children to start a business.
This means that being busy parents and working hard doesn’t always have to be considered unhealthy for your family. It may just help your children be successful in the business world themselves.
Strike a Balance and Keep It Going
While balancing a family and successful entrepreneurship can seem like an uphill battle, there are ways you can manage it without burning out. It’s all about priorities and time management. If you set your own boundaries, plan a schedule ahead and allocate your work and family time, then you’ll more than likely succeed and be less stressed doing so.
However, it doesn’t always have to come down to you as an individual parent. There’s no shame in asking for help and building a support network around you. Ultimately, being a successful parent in business is a team effort, which is why Incfile is here to help you launch your business and stay on track. Check out our business resources and tools to support every aspect of your entrepreneurial endeavors.
Jenna Scatena is a writer and content strategist with a love for stories that have never been told before. More than a decade of working with prominent magazines and brands informs her approach to impactful storytelling. Her stories have reached more than 30 million readers, won multiple awards and been anthologized in books. Jenna's work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Vogue, Marie Claire, The San Francisco, BBC and The Atlantic. She's the founder of the editorial consultancy, Lede Studio.