You know what the daily juggle is like. You’re prepping for an important meeting, and your child enters the room with the ominous statement, I’m hungry. Nevermind the fact that they had a snack an hour ago. Or that your meeting is in thirty minutes. You know that this situation could go from mild hunger to full-on meltdown in 2.8 seconds if you don’t handle things correctly.
For any entrepreneur, life is stressful. But for entrepreneurs who are also moms, life can often feel like a volcano preparing to erupt. You’re probably all-too familiar with those times when you sit back and close your eyes for a minute and think, OMG, how in the world am I supposed to manage all this? Can I possibly keep it together? What am I even doing?
But trust me. You can keep it together. You can be a successful entrepreneur and a stellar mother, all at the same time. The juggle will never fully subside, but here are three methods you can use to balance the pressures that come along with being a mom and an entrepreneur. They’ll help you get through each day feeling calm and confident.
Focus on Time Management and Routines
I know many entrepreneur mothers who worry they won’t be able to spend enough time with their kids if they focus on work—or vice versa. There is a bright side to being so busy, though: it requires you to become more diligent with your time management. When you learn how to effectively manage your time and create routines, you’ll waste less time, decrease your stress, maintain your work focus, and enjoy your time with your family.
There’s no magic formula for time management. Take note of all the things you need to do and schedule them. This includes quality time with your kids, grocery store runs, workouts, meal prep, etc. When you put necessary tasks in your calendar, you’re much more likely to get them done.
Treat everything in your calendar like it’s important. Don’t give in to the temptation to skip your “me time” because you are tired from working late or because your child wants to have a last-minute playdate. When you feel like there’s not enough time, this is the only way to guarantee that you make time.
Another crucial way to keep chaos at bay is to create and follow routines. For example, is tooth brushing before or after story time? Is breakfast before or after getting dressed? What time is dinner every night? Routines set everyone’s expectations and eliminate spur-of-the-moment decisions.
There’s no “right” routine because every family is different. Some parents might like putting their kids to bed a little later so they have quality time with their children in the evening and so the kids sleep a little later in the morning. Other parents like their kids to go to sleep earlier so they have their evenings free and so their kids wake up earlier. The only “right” routine is the one that works for your family.
Once you have a routine established, though, follow it as best as you can. You will need to stay flexible because, as every entrepreneur and mother knows, things don’t always go as smoothly as we hope. But if you have some kind of routine, you’ll at least have a guideline.
Have a Back-Up Plan
As great as time management is, life with kids is always unpredictable. There are going to be days when nothing goes right. Your child may get sick at school, throwing off your entire work schedule. Or, they may have a last-minute school project that requires a run to the craft store and an at-home scramble.
The more prepared you are for these unpredictable events, the calmer and more manageable your home-business balance will be. I suggest identifying one or two of the most important things you must accomplish each day. Do them first thing in the morning. That way, if the day goes sideways, you won’t have them hanging over your head.
I also recommend coming up with a series of back-up plans. Imagine: your sitter calls in sick, and you can’t be at home? What do you do? If you already have a plan B (and C and D), then you’ll be able to handle the situation with minimal fuss. Call a reliable friend, your spouse, a grandparent, your second sitter, or whoever you’ve already identified as your go-to.
When I became a single mom, I worried about what would happen if I had to take one of my children to the ER. How would I be able to take care of them both in a crisis? I made several backup plans and put the numbers in my phone in an “emergency contacts” section. I’ve already had to put those plans into action at least once, and I can’t tell you how glad I was that I didn’t have to figure out a solution in the midst of an already stressful moment.
Your back-up plans will likely require some outside support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. For example, if you need help dropping the kids off at school in the morning, ask other parents if they would be interested in setting up a carpool. That’s the power of community. If you’re willing to be someone’s back-up plan, they likely won’t mind being yours in your time of need.
Focus on Quality Time
Entrepreneurs have a tendency to multitask. They try to get a little work done while they’re cooking dinner or check their email while they’re spending time with their family. Often, this desire to multitask comes from mom guilt. Entrepreneur mothers think, I’m not spending enough time with my kids, and we try to make sure we get as much time in as possible.
While multitasking might seem like an efficient use of time, it’s highly inefficient. Each task takes longer to complete, and you won’t have the focus to get anything done well. Children know when you’re not 100 percent there with them too. They see you on your phone, checking emails, dipping in and out of conversations, and this will make you feel like they’re competing for your attention.
Instead of multitasking, focus on spending quality time with your kids. Disconnect and use that time to really engage with them. Even if it’s only twenty minutes before bedtime, that small window of time will be more emotionally fulfilling than several hours of disengaged multitasking.
I also recommend making quality time part of your regular routine. If you put it in your calendar and honor that block of time like any other commitment, you’ll be able to make the most of your time together without distractions. What better way to focus your time management skills than toward time with family?
Being a mom and an entrepreneur will be a juggle. There are always going to be unexpected events thrown your way. Some will be urgent, others won’t, but the trick is finding ways to stay calm and confident when surprises come at you.
But here’s the good news. It’s doable. And it’s possible to enjoy both aspects of your life. You don’t have to give up on being a mom or make sacrifices being an entrepreneur. You can excel at both if you focus on time management, routines, and back-up plans in place. That way, no matter whether you’re in the office or with your kids, you’ll have uninterrupted focus.
Written by Alison Mitzner.
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