Best 5 ways to balance a successful startup with family life

As a mother of four, I can personally attest to the challenges of building a business while trying to keep your family life on the rails. A new business is incredibly demanding. Without constant attention, it can go downhill quickly. The same goes for your family.

So, is it possible to strike a balance between the needs of your business and those of family life? Absolutely. In fact, a number of the skills required to be an entrepreneur and parent are highly transferable. Here are five things you can do to balance startup life with raising a family.

1. Sort out your childcare situation

First of all, you need to accept that you can’t take care of your kids and run a business at that same time by yourself. You’re not doing anybody any favors if you try. This is a recipe for creating one stressful situation after another as you try to juggle too many things at once. Your kids will suffer, your business will suffer and so will you.

To make it work, your family needs to be on the same page. This means making sure your partner is prepared to step up and share all of the duties associated with running a household and raising a family, whether it’s paying the bills, arranging play dates, cooking meals or taking the full load when you have to travel or focus on your enterprise. Also, it’s important that your kids understand this is a team effort, and that they step up to do their share as is appropriate for their age.

2. Spend quality time with (not just around) your kids

It’s not about how much time you spend with your kids; what’s important is that it’s quality time. How many times have you heard this? Is it really true? According to studies, it is, and it’s not hard to see how this makes sense. Just because a parent is at home doesn’t mean they’re spending time with their kids.

One of the reasons you start a business might be for more flexibility. You’ll get there eventually, but not necessarily during the early days. So don’t beat yourself up when you have to put in long hours at work. Instead, accept that your busy schedule is just part of life and focus on making the most of the time you have together. Maybe that means reading or sharing meals together, or it could be playing sports or working on projects together. If establishing a routine makes it easier, so be it. Usually this sort of advice includes telling you to turn off the TV, and normally I would agree, but sometimes it’s ok to just chill out and watch a movie together.

As an important caveat to this tip, know when to make time for yourself and your partner. It can’t be all work, kids and no play. You can manage this for a while, but eventually it will catch up to you.

3. Set boundaries

This one is all on you. Despite what I said previously about finding quality childcare that you can rely on when you need to work late, or focusing on quality time vs. quantity, there are some boundaries you shouldn’t cross. Holidays, school concerts, big games: there are some things you just can’t miss out on. It’s not good for your family and it’s not good for you.

As hard as it might be to say “no” when it comes to your business, sometimes you really do need to put your family first and count on the fact that all of your planning and hard work will give you a free pass when you need it. You can’t count on your family to always be the one that makes the compromises.

4. Give yourself a break

Balancing a business with family life can be a huge challenge. You might find yourself comparing your life with that of friends’, or some blogger’s idea of the perfect family home, and feel like you’re letting everyone down.

It’s hard not to do this and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It could be guilt talking, but thinking critically about your life isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s healthy to continually evaluate where you’re at and if you’re meeting the standards you set for yourself. Just know when to give it a break and relax. If you’re too self critical, you could shift into paralysis or depression. Don’t beat yourself up.

5. Make it a family affair

Depending upon the nature of your business, try and make it a family affair. This can be as simple as keeping everybody up-to-date on how the business is coming along, or it could be something more involved. Depending on the age of your family, you could involve them directly in the business. Not only is this a great way to spend time together, but it will also teach your kids the skills they might one day use to become entrepreneurs themselves.

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