The Work-life Balance is a Myth
We all have multifaceted roles in life, but juggling the intricate responsibilities of entrepreneurship with the equally demanding job of being a parent can often feel like an uphill battle.
Each presents its unique challenges, ups, downs, and pivotal, sometimes crazy moments.
But with some of the right strategies, this seemingly Herculean task can be managed – or you can at least try, right?
Let’s rip into some of my tips on how to navigate this storm.
What Every Entrepreneur Should Know About This Rollercoaster
It’s important to recognize that there are going to be ups and downs along the way. And when you feel like you’re on a high and on top of the World be ready for things to change – because that’s life right?
And it goes without saying that raising children also has challenges – be ok with the fact that you can’t do everything!
1. Setting Clear Boundaries
In the overlapping worlds of parenthood and entrepreneurship, boundaries serve as the guiding lines, ensuring each sphere gets its due attention.
Creating a specific workspace at home isn’t just about physical space; it’s about mental space too.
When you’re in that zone, you’re mentally attuned to work, which helps in fostering productivity.
By delineating work hours, you’re not just structuring your day but also setting an expectation for your family and yourself, ensuring a smoother transition between roles and minimizing potential conflicts.
If you do work from home, try to establish a dedicated space. Some tips given to me over the years have been to get a stand up desk (or at least something where you can stand and work) to ensure you have enough natural light, and fast reliable internet.
Another great idea if you do get a stand up desk is to invest in an under the desk treadmill so you can walk slowly while you work – keeping the blood flowing and your body supple.
The other importance of having a dedicated workspace is that you can open or close the door depending on your workload. If the door is closed you are NOT available for family. If it’s open, then sure, the kids and family can pop in to say hello.
I myself sometimes let this slip, and that’s fine, but it’s important to keep the right balance and not waver too many times in either direction.
2. Prioritizing Time Management
Time is the currency of life, and its effective management becomes the cornerstone of balancing entrepreneurial and parental duties.
Using software tools can help streamline tasks, but it’s equally important to recognize the unpredictable nature of both roles. If family members are sick, or something is on fire with your business, you need to scrap the plans and jump to it – shit happens, as they say!
I know some entrepreneurs who find it hard to take breaks from work – especially with a deadline looming or another important event in your business calendar. But when you’re running a business it’s vital to take breaks and look after your body so you can avoid burnout.
I mean, you will be no good to anybody if you work yourself into the ground – and yeah, it happens.
3. Delegating Business Needs When Necessary
The myth of the ‘do-it-all’ individual has long been debunked. The most successful business owners I know are exactly that – they delegate tasks they are not specialized in.
Sure, when you start a business you might have to be a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, but once you get traction, you need to have the right people in the right places to really move forward with your business.
The mastery lies in discerning what requires your unique touch and what can be delegated.
In the business realm, this might mean trusting your team with specific tasks like sending video emails, or even outsourcing things like SEO to a specialist agency. As soon as you can outsource, get a virtual assistant to do mundane tasks that are repetitive
Similarly, at home, sharing responsibilities with a partner or seeking help, like babysitting, can provide a bit of respite.
4. Make Quality Time Count
Amidst the rush of deadlines and routines, it’s important to pause from time to time and cherish the moments that truly matter. Creating and maintaining that elusive healthy work-life balance is something I think everyone needs to work on.
You’ve not been here before, so be ok with the fact you’re going to make mistakes but try not to make the same errors too often.
While you may be physically present with your family, genuine emotional connection happens when you’re mentally there too. From listening to your child’s day at school to planning a spontaneous family outing, these moments of undivided attention often become the memories that kids remember into adulthood.
5. Setting Realistic Expectations
Life, with all its unpredictability, seldom follows a script.
As an entrepreneur and parent, some days will be awesome and you think you’re killing it, while others will test you to the brink of your sanity! Trust me, I’ve been there! And remember it’s ok to not have the answers sometimes.
A tip I picked up a long time ago was to say to your kids – “Hey we haven’t done this before, so let’s try and work this out”.
I don’t think kids realize grown-ups actually don’t have the answers – and I’m happy to admit this too!
Understanding and accepting this variance is crucial. Instead of pursuing an elusive perfection, aim for growth, progress, and shared moments of joy. Celebrate the milestones, however small, and remember that every challenge faced strengthens your journey.
6. Building a Support System
No journey is undertaken in isolation.
Surrounding yourself with a robust support system—be it understanding family members, empathetic friends, or fellow entrepreneurs navigating similar waters—can be a tremendous source of strength.
From personal experience, I found that joining a mastermind with other entrepreneurial parents was a huge help – sometimes family members just don’t understand your problems, and as the old saying goes “a problem shared is a problem halved” rings true for me.
Sharing insights, venting out frustrations, or simply having a listening ear can make the path less daunting.
And in moments of intense overwhelm, seeking professional guidance or counseling can offer fresh perspectives and help you overcome whichever hurdle it happens to be.
7. Prioritizing Self-Care
Amidst the hustle of business and the joys and challenges of parenthood, it’s crucial not to lose sight of your own health and activities that make you, well you.
It’s important to be self-aware and listen to what your body is saying.
A burnt-out parent can neither run a successful business nor be fully present for their family. Carving out ‘me-time,’ be it through physical activities, hobbies, meditation, or simply relaxation, recharges the batteries.
I think doing some sort of sport or fitness activity where you go and burn a load of calories is really important – it’s crucial to make sure you are keeping as active and fit as possible and not being glued to your computer screen for hours on end, day after day.
Remember it’s not an indulgence – it’s a necessity.
8. Being Transparent with Your Children
Your entrepreneurial journey isn’t just yours; it subtly influences your family, especially children.
Sharing details about your work, the challenges, triumphs, and even the mundane aspects, can foster understanding and empathy.
We often do the ‘tell me about your day’ chat at the dinner table and most often my kids are shocked at how boring and mundane my day has been – sat in front of a computer for most of the day with a walk around the local trail as a break from my screen. “oh daddy, that’s so borrrrrring!”
It offers them a little glimpse into your world – and for you into theirs too.
9. Embracing the Journey
Both entrepreneurship and parenthood are ever-evolving, filled with continuous learning, uncharted territories, and unexpected moments. Constant change is part of the game.
And while striving for a perfect balance is commendable, it’s equally vital to enjoy the journey with its ups and downs.
Life seems to get faster and faster each year, so take some time now and again to reflect how far you have come – both with your family and with your business. Most of the time you can pat yourself on the back, which is an important thing to do.
To Sum Up
Getting through the world of entrepreneurship whilst still being a present parent is a dance that requires patience, strategy, and a lot of heart.
Hopefully, some of these insights highlighted above will give you a general roadmap – and while I appreciate that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, give a few of them a try and see how it pans out.
Embrace this rich tapestry we call life, try not to get too stressed and enjoy being with your kids while you are still cool enough to hang out with them!
About the author:
Matt Hapgood is a father, surfer, and entrepreneur. He has worn many hats in his career, from being a removal guy in Vancouver to teaching elementary kids in the UK, as well as a parking valet in the French Alps. He’s the founder and main contributor to MattHapgood.com and is currently living in the Algarve, Portugal.
Follow him in Instagram here