Although the responsibilities of mothers have changed so much in the recent years, and more responsibilities are being shared amongst couples, there are still challenges balancing family and business life. Both a family and business are so demanding in themselves, that juggling both can be quite tough.
Lets see how some Aussie mums are handling both family and business.
Aerlie Wildy from Healthy Life Coaching shared
A combination of flexibility and planning. There are periods where one will be more time consuming than the other, and vice versa, so being able to make the most of time when you have it is important. For example, if I have done the important things I need to for the business, I can do some extra planning to save time. Likewise, if I’m in family mode, planning the week, meals, clothes, shopping, birthday presents needed coming up, cleaning etc helps me stay on top of that and better able to manage when things get busy.
When it all goes pear shaped, that planning certainly helps and gives me the breathing space to be flexible.
Mandy Scammell from Mums Manual (app) responds
The golden question that we’d all love the right answer to. This is what my second tip was about – setting boundaries. Personally I don’t think you can spend enough time on family, I think the juggle is work distracting from quality family time. So what I do, is set clear times that I allow myself to work – which for me is when my children are in bed asleep (like now) or out of my care. When I was writing and building my App that was a challenge as it meant I was working from 7pm- 3am most days. However now it’s just fielding questions, the occasional blog and keeping up to date with social media, so it is easy to balance 99% of the time. So easy in fact I am about to launch another business!?! Crazy I know!
Kate Barber of Big Steps Little Feet says
Being open and honest to the ebb and flows of life as a business owner and mum - it's okay to be blown off course as long as you can return to centre afterwards being calm and still. It's easy to become addicted to and caught up in busy, wearing busy as lifestyle, exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self worth .... I believe having a schedule and planning ahead your week (even if its rather vague) is essential. Have set times where you are a mum first and foremost and you will do a set number of activities with the kids or simply hang and be still with the kids at home - we disconnect from all technology in the house for all family members from 5-7pm
Outsource grocery shopping. Shop online using a local fruit, vegetable and meat home delivery business. And get an Au Pair (see above)
For work the best thing that i do is to get up really early in the mornings and do a lot of my work whilst everyone is still asleep. If I get up at 4.30 I can catch up on emails and admin and writing and planning and still have time for a little facebook, the news and some of my favourite blogs before the kids wake.
Anya Haywood who runs Anya H Interiors suggests
Automate, Outsource & Lose the Guilty Mother factor
So that I can spend as much time as possible with my family outside of work, I outsource as much of the 'other stuff' aspects ie housekeeping/washing, ironing through to supermarket shopping so that when I'm not working, I can actually spend time taking the kids out to the park, reading to them, helping them with their homework etc. You cannot underestimate the support network of fellow mums... we all know it's difficult to juggle and by recruiting some other mums, whether school mums or friends who are also mums, sharing the workload with pick ups, drop offs etc can make your week so incredibly better... don't underestimate how much you can gain from only doing 1/2 the pick ups and drop offs in a week by sharing it with a friend... these little nuggets of time really add up and can be spent in a more effective manner eg on your business, or becoming involved with your school.
Even though my mum is across the other side of the world, I still get her involved in my day to day life... I often set my daughters up on Skype so that they can do their homework with her assistance over the screen (!) and my mum will help them to research projects for show and tells etc...
All my food shopping is bought online & delivered to my kitchen bench... why waste hours driving to a shopping centre, waiting in queues etc.
Pretty much all the clothes and shoes for my family are bought online too.
Quality rather than quantity.. I have a self imposed rule, if I'm out with my kids at the park/beach or wherever, I will only check my email every 3 hours. Don't get me wrong, I did used to find myself responding to work emails whilst pushing the swing or balancing a feeding baby, but really it's no good for anyone... you end up doing poor quality work and more importantly, not engaged and 'not in the moment' with your children... you can possibly get away with that when they're very young, but even now my 2 year old will deliberately hide my phone in the mornings as she knows that I'm often head down catching up on any overnight news whilst I'm meant to be spooning her porridge into her mouth... not good!
In our modern society where very often our close family do not live within a reasonable 'helping' distance, we (mum & dad) take on the full parenting role ourselves... which is a relatively new phenomenon... for centuries, bringing up children was the responsibility of the entire family and extended family... in France this is still the case... the old 'it takes a village to raise a child' and the French are very open in outsourcing their children to daycare centres, nannies etc if their family are not close by... they see the importance of maintaining balance in your work/life as well as being able to have one on one time with your husband/wife. Let's just say I wish I was French! I funnel this Frenchism and also believe that my husband and I just can't do it on our own and in fact, it's good for our kids to get to know other adults other than ourselves, of different ages, personalities etc as well as being brought up understanding the value of working not just for the father, but also for the mother. Hence, we have not held back in recruiting nannies, babysitters etc and we have a regular date night and a regular Sunday lunch booked in every week so that we can have at least one night a week and one lunch where we can catch up with each other and talk about our lives and work in a kid free space.
(We actually came up with a swap arrangement with one of our babysitters where she lives with us for free in return for helping us around the house and with the kids... she's a student so to live rent/bill free with us is a win-win situation!).
Janene, founder of Gametag shares
My family come with me when I am promoting Gametag at various events they especially like the country shows and fairs which makes life easy for all of us and allows us to be together more of the time, although there are times when things do not work out, I then have to rely on my mum to fill in.
Carolyn Cooke from Mumas Market tells us
Its a hard balance to strike, especially as your business can often become like your baby too. You want to love and nurture it and watch it grow. But remember why you started it, and make sure you factor in time to walk away, turn off and enjoy your family. Even if you have to schedule it into your diary!
Denise Shrivell of Mediascope thinks
There are many good and bad things about running your own business. Each business is different but one of the good things can be the flexibility to work unstructured hours which then allows you to get more involved with the school community, family activities and the relentless school holidays. It is a conscience decision to use this flexibility and even though it may mean you’re working at night to cover the time off during the day it’s one of the reasons you work the way you do – so use it!
Anne Angel of the Anne Angel Designs/UR Invited explains
I set my days for work and I only focus on the business those days so I know every week which days I'm in the office and so do the kids. The days that I'm not in the office is focused on the kids. Sometimes work meetings pop up on my non set days and I just do my best to re-schudule so that it doesn’t interfere with my time with the kids. If they are great clients they will understand. Nothing is ever that important that you need to sacrifice your family for. Work will always be there but your kids grow up too quickly and that time with them can’t be re-lived.
Courtney who founded Mr Gift replied
I get up early in the morning at around 5-6am, when no one else is awake and the house is quiet so I can focus on what I'm doing. An hour of work in the morning is worth 2 hours in the evening by the time you take all the family distractions into consideration. I also feel better when I've ticked some things off my list at the start of the day - this motivates me for the rest of the day and I feel like I have earned some 'time off' with my family at the end of the day.
My husband and I also try to go for a walk with our 10 month-old in the pram for 30 mins - 1 hour in the evening. This gives us quality time together to talk without other distractions. It's good exercise for us too!
Would love to hear some examples of how you juggle business and family life?