I've been working from home with kids in tow for most of my adult life. My early adult life was spent studying as a young single parent, mostly from home. I launched my first virtual business whilst I was at University. In the corporate world I worked from home growing a virtual digital agency. These days I own an online coaching / training business and still work from home.
It is an insanely challenging juggle, but a choice parents want to make to be there for their families.
I think we often into it blind though, not thinking too much about the daily challenges you're going to face. Such as children interrupting important calls or not having a moment's peace to deliver a big project.
I know I'm not alone in struggling to make it work for my family, so I wanted to share my top tips today for how I got through those earlier years. I'm going to keep adding to this article, and I encourage you to add your own comments at the bottom of the page so this becomes a great resource for other people.
When you run a business there are endless distractions that can really take you away from the task at hand. Which is why its important try and keep business and family separate. When you're working, keep family distractions to a minimum, but equally when you're spending quality time with them I don’t use my phone. That’s our number one rule; although it is occasionally broken – no one is perfect.
You can't expect your family to respect your work time if you don't respect your family time.
Make it fun
Being a parent doesn’t stop just because you have to work. So you have to develop fun and creative ways to keep your children ‘quietly’ entertained whilst you’re working. I created a play desk next to mine where they would sit and do their ‘important work' aka colouring in. They LOVED pretending to be me. At times it might only buy you mere minutes but you grab what you can and make those minutes of work count.
There's also a huge opportunity in this challenge! You can instill a strong work ethic into your children from a young age and show them that working hard can be fun, and that will pay dividends as they mature into young adults.
Get your loved ones on board
Making a business work that's run from home is a family effort, and if you share that responsibility it will make your life a LOT easier. Get your family excited about the potential opportunities that growing your business will bring. For my family, we love fun travel experiences as our joint reward.
My children know that if they want to have all the fun travel then I have to work hard to achieve that for them. Equally, my partner and I have had to turn the ‘traditional’ household roles on their heads, but we’re a team and we do what it takes to achieve our dreams.
It's not an easy transition, and you're not always going to get people on board easily. Make sure those around you know just how important your business dreams are to you and reward them when your hard work pays off.
Don't try and do everything
Despite what people say, you can’t do it all – so stop trying. You have to learn to say ‘no’ to things, even if you feel like you're going to be letting people down. You also have to learn to ask for help. Yes I'm talking to you super-parent!
I’ve never been very good at asking for help, I think being a single parent meant I was used to relying on myself. But you can’t run a successful business, be a great mum / partner / friend, as well as take time out for yourself without turning to the people around you.
Sometimes my house isn’t always clean, and I often burn the dinner; we laugh about how I can build business but struggle to cook a pizza these days. Delegation is certainly the key and asking for help when you need it.
Don't pretend everything is perfect
It’s took me years to acknowledge and tackle this one, but I don’t try and pretend that everything is perfect. Being a young mum meant that I often had to put on a brave face, especially to those who thought I’d thrown my life away. It’s changed the way I speak to my audience, and I don’t shy away from the struggles of being an entrepreneur. I’ve found being honest and open has meant I receive a great deal of moral support from family, friends, and more surprisingly, from my peers; I think it’s made me more approachable.
By showing your more vulnerable side, people are more likely to step up and support you. You can't expect people to read your mind if you give off the impression that everything is perfect.
Build a support network
When you're working towards huge things in life you have to be very selective of who you surround yourself with. Associating yourself with negative people who don't support your dreams will zap your energy.
“You're the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” is a phrase coined by the incredible Jim Rohn. And its very true that you do become like the people you bring into your life.
If you surround yourself with lazy people, it will make YOU lazy. Surround yourself with fit people, it will make YOU fit too! And surround yourself with positive, hard working people and it will help you to constantly strive for the same.
Make daily self-care a priority (non-negotiable)
I don’t care WHO you are – you can always make time in your day for some kind of self-care. Whether that's a quick walk after lunch, or 20 minutes yoga / meditation in the morning for example. We are very good at saying “we don't have time” but what we usually mean is that its not a priority.
But having experience burn-out myself, and some major health issues I've learned the hard way to put myself first. That way you can maintain growth and success for much longer.
Make extra time
I know you can’t really make time, but by being more productive and efficient you can claw back your time.. After some trial and error I have settled on being an early riser! I go to bed at 10pm every night and take Vitamin D12 to boost my energy in the winter months. The only downside is that I am unable to have a lie in, no matter how hard I try! Not great after a few too many glasses of fizz! I now tend to avoid anything that keeps me up too late as it ruins my sleep patterns and productivity.
Build in Golden Hours
At whatever time of day you're at your best, carve out that time for your own business growth. That time needs to be for your own business growth – not client work, not admin, not housework. Work on the thing that is most important to you in life. This can often feel counter-intuitive, almost selfish, but putting your dreams as your biggest priority means you'll get there quicker.
You have to make this time non-negotiable in the same way you have to with self-care!
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I'm going to keep adding to this post – and if you'd like to share your best tips add them as a comment below!