Entrepreneurs are the worst when it comes to having balance in their lives. I know because I am one. I have a tendency to think about business 24×7 and there is such a passion for what I am doing that I can lose sight of everything beyond work. We become so focused on getting things done that that we forget to notice where we are going. The problem becomes that we get so engrossed in our work that we completely forget that having balance in life is a key ingredient in achieving success.
As both a business owner and mom of 5 daughters- life can get definitely get crazy at times. And one of the biggest challenges I faced was trying to “do it all” and as a result was not doing anything great. I was burnt out and stressed out and not a help to my family, my business or myself. I was mixing business work with with home life often and didn’t have defined parameters. I was spread so thin and my productivity was low. Here are just a few things I’ve learned and implemented over the last 9 years as a business owner and mompreneur that have lead to a happier and healthier me, home & business.
1. Valuing my Time I started setting specific “office hours” and putting boundaries on my time. With limited work hours, I HAVE to be 100% productive during the work day. I don’t waste time, I don’t feel guilty about not being with my kids, I don’t worry about what is happening on the home front, and I don’t over work myself to exhaustion on a daily basis. At home, I don’t answer business emails or calls outside work hours- if it can be helped. And lastly, often I will have an “unplugged” day. I will turn off my phone/computer/tv (anything that can cause distraction) and just be present for whatever it is I’m doing or working on personally.
2. Having solid Family Management Systems If you have a large family, you’re managing a complex organization, and I started realizing that managing & running my business required the exact same skill set as managing & running a home. I wouldn’t run my business without systems, and I need them at home too!
Some examples, just to name a few- Pre-made freezer meals are fantastic! (although I do admit I’ve been slacking on the prep of these the last few weeks-time to get back on board!). When I do, I set a day aside and prep freezer meals that can be easily cooked. For those days I have sessions in the evening or sports happening… this has been a life saver! Its easy then to eat at home and helps us to avoid eating out. With a big family especially, eating out can get very costly!
The older girls are responsible for adding their events and activities to the home calendar (which can also be then added to my google shared calendar so both my hubby and I know whats going on) If the girls forget, then they are responsible for the outcome. This is huge! And very important in our week to week to avoid scheduling conflicts (as much as possible).
I check in with them throughout the week to see how everything is going in their day-to-day life, ask them if there is anything we can do better as a family to help them reach their goals, and then try and adjust things where needed. I try and remember that kids have stresses too! Quality time spent with each of our children is incredibly important. With big families, it can be easy “to get lost amongst the masses”. We try and schedule time with each of them, one on one throughout the month. The difference this has made has been amazing to see; we’ve seen less turmoil & stress in the home, more open communication & cooperation as a family unit AND we get to really know our kids in a different way when time is set aside for them specifically.
The same goes for my husband and I. We try and go out for a fun date night together once a month usually a Friday night and not talk about work or family. Just us. This is nice break from our everyday routine and definitely needed. But what we also found to be the most helpful and what stimulated the best conversations…was our breakfast dates! We make time for breakfast dates twice a month. We have been doing this consistently for the last 8 years, and what a difference it has made in our relationship. Why breakfast? Well for us- we are generally at our best in the morning, before the day wears on us. All the kids are in school, less distractions when we want to talk about important matters (kids, finances, activities, etc.- anything really), and there are some great breakfast specials weekday mornings 😉 so its cost effective!
3. Prioritizing Self-Care. This is a MUST! Taking care of myself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually has been the key to better balance in all aspects of my life. Managing a career and a family takes energy. If you are struggling in this area, it affects all of the others AND your business. You are the most valuable person in your life. Self care is crucial, and sleep is an important component of this! This was a huge hurdle for me as I was always doing work late at night and then getting up early to get the kids off to school and start my day. Again, spreading myself too thin. Once I started putting myself & my health first- it was amazing to see the difference I saw in my productivity, confidence and growth.
For my personal routine throughout the week, I have to exercise first thing in the morning, just in order to fit it in, and also before I have a chance to make excuses and change my mind! I have all my work out gear in the bathroom the night before. I get up at at 5:15am, mindlessly change into gym clothes because its all right there, and then head to the gym or go for a run. I’m back at my house by 6:30am, prepare breakfast and take 30 minutes to plan out my day and review my goals. I do this all before my kids get up, while the house is quiet. For my mental health, I find this 30 minutes of self reflection to be very important. I can be sure I am on track with my personal goals & work goals each day. I only make 2 things a MUST to complete each day, and then try my best on the others. If I don’t get the others done, then I move them to another day and make them a MUST for that particular day. This method helped me from feeling like I failed each day by not getting my long to-do list done. Instead, its helped me to feel more accomplished and things on my to-do list actually get done! I’m not so overwhelmed AND I’m not overdoing it each day, which in turn helps me to be happier and enjoy people 😉 Happiness is a choice you make and a skill you develop!
There is something that happens when you can step away from the craziness and just listen to the silence. You gain a perspective that can help you to make better decisions, you gain a sense of calm, and you have the ability to see the big picture again.
My best advice- find a routine that works best for YOU. Early mornings may not be for everyone, but taking the time each day to review, remind yourself where you are going and what you want to accomplish will keep you on track. It keeps your motivation and attitude in check. Your success will be determined by the small efforts made daily- it doesn’t happen right away, but keep at it!
4. Build Your Team at Work. Work success is all about “investing time in others. That seems counterintuitive to a busy lifestyle, but I think it’s incredibly important. You end up lightening your load and end up giving others the opportunity to succeed & grow. I realized I couldn’t solve my problems by working harder anymore. I have to solve them by being thoughtful & creative and letting others in. By setting up systems, passing off some of the work load and putting trust in others, I found that each team member I had help me, brought value that I couldn’t have done without their different talents and strengths. When, I was trying to do everything, I had no time to work on the things that would actually help me reach my business goals. By delegating, I have more time now to work on my business, not so much in my business on the day to day things that were consuming all my time. There is a BIG difference between being busy and being productive.
5. Build Your Team at Home You’re only as good as your team- and this applies to the home too! No one can do it alone. Discover what you need in your personal life to raise your quality of life and free up time for those that matter most.
Each family member has different strengths and needs. For example, my 9 year old daughter is terrible at keeping on top of chores and needs to be constantly reminded to finish them. But her strength is, she LOVES to organize things. So often, we will take a few chores off her list and trade it for organizing the pantry/cupboards/toys or something she chooses. This helps me out and also allows her to utilize her best personality strengths, and avoids a fight (saving my mental energy!).
Family members possess an abundance of talents and strengths. Often, moms tend to think they need to do everything for everybody, but in fact, it should be the opposite. Family members need to help and should help! As does every parent, I want my girls to grow to the best of their potential. I feel if I’m doing everything for them, I would only be holding them back from being their best version of themselves. I want them to enjoy just being kids of course, and the freedom of childhood & play, but by giving them more responsibilities throughout the week, I’m also allowing them to make decisions more on their own. It has taught them confidence, fulfilling their commitments, strengthened their organizing skills by making them more responsible for their own schedules and is teaching them to find their own balance with school and personal life. Most importantly, they are aware of when they are taking on too much and knowing their boundaries and capabilities.
Balance does not mean equal amounts of time for home and business. I can have a week where I am gone a lot working and be in balance and I can have a week where I spending more time with my family and be in balance. Balance is about being in the right place at the right time, doing the right things. Its not going to be the same for everyone.
If you are currently feeling unbalanced- take a deep breath! Then decide what balance would look like for YOU. Get clear on what you want or you will never find it. Then focus on where you want to be. You got this!