Originally published on Forbes.com on December 11, 2017.
Working parents know how difficult it is to balance a career with caring for children. However, parents who run their own business experience an added layer to this challenge.
In many ways, these “parentpreneurs” stretch themselves between two types of babies: the children they’re raising and the business they’re growing. Both require near-constant nurturing and attention to be successful, especially in their early stages, and entrepreneurial parents must learn to carefully plan and prioritize their time to ensure that each gets the care they need and deserve.
Nine members of Forbes Coaches Council offered their best advice for parent entrepreneurs who are looking to maintain a healthy balance between their family and their business.
All images courtesy of Forbes Councils members.
1. Learn To Delegate And Know Your Boundaries
As a parentpreneur, it can be difficult to balance your business and time with family, as both solicit a great amount of time and effort. However, the sooner you realize you can’t be in two places at once, the better. Prioritize special moments and engagements with your kids that require 100% of you, and make sure you have someone to step in during those times. Respect that you need help to avoid burnout. – Ariel Lopez, 2020Shift
2. Prioritize Well-Being
Adopt mindfulness or relaxation practices. Prioritize your well-being. Often, as soon as life becomes an incessant demand on your time, the first thing to go is the priority of your self. “There’s too much to do, I don’t have the time,” is a thought that will happen. Calendaring even 10 minutes a day for personal relaxation benefits your work, your children, and your ability to get more done. – David Butlein, Ph.D., BLUECASE Strategic Partners
3. Create Clear Boundaries And Honor Your Word
Create clear time boundaries. Define when you are available and when you are not, and hold those boundaries. This is a healthy lesson for your children to learn. When you are not available, you aren’t (unless the house is on fire). But when it is your child’s time with you, be fully present for them, not your cell phone. Create your boundaries and honor your word. – Debra Russell, Debra Russell Coaching, LLC
4. Sensibly Involve Your Children
What’s the motivation for work and work changes for parentpreneurs? Children. Therefore, children can be thoughtfully included in your business as motivation, as helpers and as important parts of your team. Consider their schedule and limit their time so that the participation at any age carries the joy and not the burden of your new enterprise. This may remind you of your most important asset. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
5. Remember Balance Doesn’t Happen Every Day
I think balance is an overused word. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we’re working too hard or neglecting our business if we think balance is achievable every single day. It’s not, and that’s OK. Remind yourself that your kids benefit from seeing you work hard at times and your leadership benefits from spending valuable time with your children. – Jeannie Walters, 360Connext
6. Stop Before You Step In The Door
Parentprenuers need to get ready to be a parent before they open their front doors and walk inside. Sure, you can turn off your phone and put away your laptop, yet changing your mindset is key. Once you cross the threshold, your role changes from entrepreneur to parent. To be fully present from dinner to bedtime, process or put away the work baggage you can easily drag inside with you. – Leila Bulling Towne, The Bulling Towne Group, LLC
7. Control Your Calendar, Don’t Let It Control You
As a parentpreneur, I found out quickly that the traditional 8-5 workday wasn’t going to work. I scheduled client meetings while my kids were at school, paused working when they came home, and took care of “desk work” after bedtime or side-by-side with my kids while they did their homework. I got to enjoy being a mom and attend all of their events because I was in control of my calendar. – Lucie Yeomans, YourCareerAlly.com/Sick Resumes
8. Be 100% At All Times
Both of my girls were born while I was running my business from home. I learned quickly that there is no such thing as “working from home with my kids.” Rather, I had to choose when I would be 100% focused on my business, or 100% focused on my kids. Hire support if need be, or negotiate with a loved one so you can have dedicated time to your business and your family. – Tina Forsyth, Tina Forsyth
9. Schedule Tasks Accordingly
As a parentpreneur, there are times when you must be more hands-on as a parent than others. Schedule tasks that require intense thought or client interaction for those times when your kids are out-of-pocket. Save tasks that can be accomplished through multitasking, or by simply having an internet connection, for those times when it is likely you will be asked to pivot your attention to them. – Virginia Franco, Virginia Franco Resumes