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Tips for juggling business and kids

by Alison Bradford

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Are you feeling like a juggler at the moment? I certainly feel like I’m part of a circus most days!

It can seem a great idea in the beginning – I’ll set up my own business so that I can work from home and be there for my family more.

The reality of course is lots of things to juggle – your business, your kids, your partner, childcare, swimming lessons, gym classes, ballet classes, looking after the home etc. etc.

And I don’t know about you but my family (including my extended family) seem to have the impression that running a business from home means I’m available at any point to step in with looking after poorly relatives, collecting parcels and meeting them for lunch when they’re off work.

Boundaries need setting here please. I do actually have work to do, clients to coach, meetings to attend and all within a very, VERY tight timeframe.

How about you? Do you find this happening, where you end up taking on more and more and end up feeling breathless from all the plates you are running around trying to keep spinning?

Okay, some strategies to help you cope.

  1. Set the boundaries – it’s your role to educate people about what you are doing and to set the boundaries with them. Don’t expect people to understand just what you have to pack into each day. This includes your partner and your children – especially if they are used to having you around for them in the past.  Make sure they are all clear on how busy you are and tell them how they can help you.
  2. Childcare – this can be a huge challenge if you have pre-school children at home, or with older ones during the school holidays, and I think the challenge varies depending on the age of your children. My advice? If you have pre-school children try and get some time when they are in childcare. This may mean paying for nursery, getting Granny to have them for a few hours each week or sorting out some playdate sharing with a friend.  You will need to be super creative in finding ways to work whilst they are with you e.g. during naptimes, dvd time etc., and will often find yourself needing to work early in the mornings or late in the evenings when they are in bed. Hats off to you if you’re trying to run a business with young children around and no childcare. (My 1 year old goes to nursery 2 days a week and her Granny’s share 1 day a week.) For older children during school holidays, again it’s great if you can get some time child free to work on your business. Checkout your local holiday clubs or team up with some other parents to take turns having your own holiday club. Older ones are of course easier to bribe negotiate with. (I.e. leave me alone and watch this dvd for an hour and then I’ll take you to the park and give you my full attention). Overall it’s best to get some clear division between work time and kids time.
  3. Power Hours – I’m a big fan of power hours, where you have an hour of time purely focused on your business. No distractions allowed – so no washing to load, no email, no social media, just 1 hour of getting on with something that will make a difference to your business. You may need to find your power hour in the evening or early morning but try and get one at least every other day.
  4. Be prepared for the unexpected – because it will happen. Children get poorly, your broadband connection crashes, even Mums get poorly sometimes. Think about having a contingency plan for your business. This can be as easy as making a list of all the things that could go wrong and how you can plan to handle them. For example, your child is poorly – can you take the day off? If not, who can you call as back up? If you spilt tea over your laptop, what would happen? You can do your contingency plan in one of your power hours!

I would love to hear any tips you have to share about running a business with children around.

Just leave a comment below to share.

 

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Alison Bradford

Alison Bradford is a business coach who works with smart, ambitious business owners to get clarity about how they can grow their business and increase profit. Sign up here to learn 6 easy ways you can boost profit in your business today.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

sonia July 20, 2012 at 9:53 am

Alison, I am loving all this. As a coach myself going into it full time from September with two young kids, your first point around setting boundaries is wonderful. The notion of you are home, you can run errands etc is a no, no! Thanks for this and helping me realise around defining my day and communicating that with my family.
What also supports me, being a manic ‘managing me’ mum, woman and business owner, is to carve out specific times every day around children, coaching calls etc to do specific things from my to do list, whilst always bearing in mind, it could all change at the drop of a hat and it it doesn’t get done, find another slot in the week for it while being gentle on yourself. Another tip I find helps is to fully focus on whatever you are doing, whether it’s the business, the kids, the partner, the house. I find it support me being fully present and getting the most out of each situation. Thank you

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Alison Bradford July 22, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Thanks Sonia – really glad you found it useful and thanks for sharing your tips. Love your point about fully focusing on what you are doing and being present. It’s very easy to be doing something but thinking about something else – mainly what you’re not doing that you think you should be, or what you’re going to do next.

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