Balancing Bubs and Business – Seven Tips for Maintaining Sanity
Juggling motherhood and business is no small feat, running a business can be stressful and crazy at the best of times though add babies, toddlers, kids or all of the above and it can be utter chaos!
Being a Mumpreneur takes sacrifice, perseverance, patience, a good sense of humor, a pinch of insanity and an extraordinary amount of juggling. So how do you service clients, meet deadlines and stay sane while you balance bubs and business?
1. Set Realistic Goals and Expectations
Be kind to yourself, know that there will be days when you don’t get everything done, in fact you won’t even come close. Also know there will be other days when you will be amazed at everything you have accomplished.
As a Mumpreneur you have multiple jobs, you are being a mum, running a business and keeping house. In fact, if you are a sole trader you may find yourself working multiple jobs in your business alone. Give yourself a break. You can’t do the same amount of work you did before you were a Mum.
Before you start any work, carefully prioritise and separate urgent tasks from those that only seem urgent. Allocate yourself 3-5 core tasks each day and keep the rest in a task list called ‘would be nice to get done today’. When you are prioritising ask yourself “what will make the biggest difference to my bottom line?” and “are there any tasks taking up my time that I could outsource to someone else?”
2. Separate Your Work and Family Time
Defining work and family time can be a challenge, especially when you work in the same place where you play with your kids, do the housework and unwind. No doubt you’ve experienced the pull of competing priorities, when you work you feel like you aren’t spending enough time with your kids, and when you sit and relax with your husband you see the mess you have been avoiding for the last few days.
The key is to have set times for each role, a specific time for playing and bonding with your kids, spending time with your husband, having ‘me’ time, working and keeping house. Not only will you feel more at ease, you will also be able to focus on the task at hand, knowing you are exactly where you are meant to be.
I can assure you it won’t always work out the way you plan. There will be days where you are needed more at home and others where you are needed more in your business, but I can also assure you that your schedule will keep you mindful of where you are spending time and help you identify what areas you will need to make up for later.
3. Build in ‘Time Buffers’
In my rush to be, do and have it all I often fall into the trap of filling my days up with as much activity as one could possibly fit into a 24 hour period (sometimes even more!) and then beat myself up for not getting through it. Sound familiar?
As a Mumpreneur there are many unexpected daily events that come in the form of new enquiries, deadlines being moved up, clients running late, traffic, meetings running overtime, sick or fussy tots and most, if not all, of these things are completely out of your control. By building ‘time buffers’ (little gaps of time) into your schedule, you cater for these unforeseen daily events.
When planning my day I leave an hour open to address anything unexpected and with meetings and telephone conference calls I add half an hour to the estimated duration in case the person runs late or the meeting goes overtime. I also add two days (where possible) to deadlines for client work just in case I need the extra time, better I tell them it will take longer and deliver on time or earlier then miss the deadline and potentially lose their business.
Time buffers have drastically reduced my stress and the amount of time I spend rushing here and there and the best part is when I don’t have to use them I have extra time to play with the kids, clean the house, or combat my inbox.
4. Make time for you
Making time for you is vital for your own productivity, sanity and sometimes the sanity of everyone else. Your family and your clients deserve the best you and the only way they will get that is if you look after yourself. Schedule some ‘me’ time into your day, after everyone is asleep, before everyone wakes, or during naptime.
Whether it is for an hour or even ten minutes, giving yourself time to relax will refresh and recharge you. It will also help you make better decisions, come up with better ideas and be ready to handle whatever life has in store.
5. Make your office a fun environment
Making your office fun is a great way to keep your kids busy and close to you while you work. Have a box of special toys that can only be played with in your office, a drawer that is theirs and filled with surprises, colouring pages and crayons, a miniature desk with a toy phone, laptop and junk mail so they can imitate you.
When I know I have a particular busy day planned I do up a mystery box for my 2 year old son. Our mystery box is a nappy box covered in colourful wrapping paper and filled with lots of little surprises. The last box included two new match box cars, a sticker book, a colouring book with washable crayons, puffy stickers (these are easier for little hands to pull off themselves), 3 wooden puzzles, stackable cups, a saucepan and wooden spoon, Play Doh and cookie cutters and a selection of toys he hadn’t played with in a while. He loves it and it keeps him happy and busy for a while so I can get my work done.
6. Make your work portable
You won’t always get the kids to be happy and sit still in the office and depending on what you do you may not want them in there at all, for this reason a laptop, a smart phone and wireless internet are must have tools for mumpreneurs. When all else fails you can take your work with you! I have spent many afternoons working under my pergola, with my daughter in her high chair and my son playing happily in his sandpit.
7. Remember why you are working from home
You work from home so you can spend as much time with your kids and be there whenever they need you, so don’t make the mistake of getting so caught up in work that you forget what is most important.
If you have a particular busy day and need to get through a lot of work, make sure you build in decent breaks to sit down and play. Be present in the moment, don’t spend the time thinking about how much you need to get done or who you need to call. I have found that my tots are happier and will play longer independently when they know I am close by and will be giving them my full attention soon.
When you have babies, toddlers and small children you need to accept that you are going to have lots of interruptions to your work day, save yourself some stress and do work that can be put down and picked back up again without much thought.
If you do have work that requires your undivided attention where possible schedule it around their sleeps or when someone can mind them for you. Though on those urgent occasions where there is a tight deadline, no-one to help and exceptionally fussy tots their favourite DVD can be a lifesaver!