When Running a Business and Parenting Collide
As a parent entrepreneur, you struggle to find work-life balance. At the end of the day, you try to focus on your family and forget the millions of tasks that you promised you would leave at the office. But then, in the middle of dinner, you realize that if you don’t take care of that last invoice you won’t make payroll this month. So you excuse yourself from the table, turn on your laptop, and complete the invoice. You can’t help but check your email and return a few messages, completely unaware that your kids are staring at you wondering when it will be their turn. When you finally wrap up your work, you realize that the kids are in bed, and you didn’t have a single conversation with anyone in your family. Guilt sets in. You wonder if you’ll ever fulfill your dream of a perfect small business work-life balance.
Work-life balance is a myth
Work-life balance is the promise of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that’s just out of reach. The truth is that work and life can’t be segmented into perfect buckets. However, you can take steps to weave them together through work-life integration.
When you try to segment your work and life into two distinct buckets of time, you lose out on all of the opportunities that lie in between. Your business isn’t a 9 am to 5 pm activity, and your kids aren’t a 5 pm to 9 pm task on your to-do list. Instead of compartmentalizing your life, try to make it fluid by creating space on your calendar for life to happen. Instead of having lunch at your desk, take a break and have lunch with your kids. Wake up early to start your workday so that you can free up some time to attend the award ceremony or school science fair. Make a commitment to turn off your laptop one night a week and make that night special by having one-on-one time with your kids.
Become more mobile
Technology allows the ability to integrate work and life together more than ever. From office documents to the family calendar, your list of to-dos can fit in the device that you slip into your pocket. Using a cloud-based service such as Google Drive, Dropbox or Box allows you to access and work on your documents anytime, anywhere. When you become more mobile, you become more agile.
Ultimately, work-life integration is a choice. It’s the constant exercise of determining what’s important to you and then living a life that reflects your priorities. When you integrate your work and life, you can focus on the things that matter the most instead of dealing with the aftermath of the collision. There is always time for work, but there’s only a short time to live.
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