If you’re a parent as well as an entrepreneur or professional, odds are good that you’ve read at least a few articles with tips and best practices to successfully balance your career and family life. You’ll largely see the same must-do habits repeatedly mentioned, but there are also some areas where thinking outside the box can yield rewarding results.
Planning, Planning, Planning
Career coaches and family counselors alike will tell you that this should be the centerpiece of your efforts. This shouldn’t be limited to the two parents but should apply to every family member. Whether your kids are 7 or 17, they should have access to the family calendar. Your kids are often smarter than you think; if they’re clued into your daily routine, they may even have some tips of their own to help it run more smoothly.
Not only is this calendar the place to put your weekly schedule; you can also use it to plan the menu. Sync it with your phone to allow obligations that come up while you’re at the office or out and about to appear on the family calendar without you having to remember to add them later. With proper planning, everyone is on the same page – provided that they regularly view the calendar. This is a key component to family harmony.
Keep Others in the Loop
From your boss to your colleagues to your friendly neighbor to your relatives to your parents, there’s a plethora of people who won’t mind (or would love to) help you along the way.
Ask your boss to give you as much lead time as possible when large projects are coming down the pipeline.
Your parents have probably been there and done that, and they’re usually happy to spend some time with your kids so you can nail that deadline or simply spend time with your partner.
As long as you don’t make a habit of it, don’t be afraid to ask a colleague to help you with something, especially if they need to perform a similar task and can add yours without too much trouble.
Outings with neighbors and relatives can be a fun way for everyone to step out of the routine for a bit and try something new, not to mention that neighbors usually won’t mind watching your kids for short periods of time when warranted.
When friends and family aren’t available, or you don’t think the task is appropriate for them, it might make sense to hire a professional service. If you really need to clean, but you’re in the middle of a lucrative project, a cleaning service is worth the investment.
Give Everyone a Job to Do
Your kids will no doubt try your patience, but they’re usually happy to perform tasks that make your life easier. This starts with talking to them like adults as they age. You don’t want it to seem like you’re giving them chores just to give them chores but to help the family move forward.
Starting from around 1 year of age, they’re usually able to help in some way:
* 1-4: They can help by putting away their toys when they’re not using them.
* 4-7: They can help in the kitchen, wiping things down and even vacuuming.
* 7+: They can be increasingly responsible for handling their own activities.
Taking this more collaborative rather than instructional approach can pay huge dividends for your family as your children grow.
Learn to Say No at Work
This one can be a challenge. Sometimes, you need to be able to say “no, thanks” to a project or even a job that you know will entail a much higher time commitment than you can really afford. If you don’t feel like your boss is someone who will take “no” for an answer, you’ll need to do some soul searching as to whether that company is really right for you as you raise a family.
Saying “no” can be even more of a challenge if you’re a freelancer or small business owner, but again, it’s occasionally a necessity.
Ana Maria De La Cruz, a hard-charging digital-marketing professional in the industry since 2004 and now the founder and CEO of the manual link building boutique Outreach Bee, explains: “If taking on that project is likely to put you over the edge toward burnout, cause you to give other projects short shrift, or prevent you spending any time with your family, it’s actually going to hurt you, not help you.”
Harmonizing work and family is an age-old balancing act, but with a methodical approach, help when appropriate, an all-hands-on-deck parenting paradigm, and the recognition that sometimes you’ve got to say “no,” you can master this challenge and live well.
If you are an entrepreneur/professional and father/mother, we would like to hear your thought about combining your professional life and your family.