Being a parent, and self-employed can feel like a juggling act. It’s not always easy to give your full attention to your work or family, especially when you’re trying to do both at the same time. There are ways to make time for both.
Get help with smaller tasks
Using outside help or buying software might seem like an unnecessary expense. Yet, if you work out how much time you’re spending on the tasks which could be carried out by someone else, or be made easier, the cost may be worth it.
Spending quality time together
It’s understandable if you’re working hard to build up your business and support your family. However, don’t lose sight of one of the reasons you’re doing this; your family. Spending quality time with them means you get to recharge, create memories and connect.
There are small ways to spend quality time together, such as making the effort to have regular family dinners to catch up, baking tasty recipes, movie or game nights, and sporting activities which also let you stay healthy and ensure they do too. Then there are bigger ways which you can plan together, such as holidays. These let you all unwind, spend time together and share new experiences.
Don’t forget, some of the most valuable types of quality time involve simply being there for your children and listening to any problems they’re having. This could mean helping with homework, giving them advice about friends, or even supporting them in their extra-curricular activities. Being self-employed shouldn’t get in the way of being there for your children. If you set yourself some boundaries for working, you can successfully spend quality time together.
Having your own workspace
If like many freelancers and self-employed people, you work at home, it’s important to have your own workspace. Trying to concentrate on work while being distracted by your children, and giving them your attention, often means you fail to concentrate on either. That’s why there has to be a line between work time and family time. Having an office space, or another space in the house where everyone knows not to disturb you, allows you to get your work done. Then you can switch off from being in constant work mode to enjoy family time.
While having a spare room or office is ideal, not everyone has a house that’s big enough to accommodate this. Consider setting up a desk in your bedroom where the kids don’t usually go or make the dining room table off-limits for a few hours each day. Working from home is a little bit easier if your kids go to school or nursery, but you could still consider some kind of childcare for part of the day so you can really get your head down.
Take time for yourself and your partner
While it’s important to spend time with your children, you also need quality time with your partner if you have one. Having a date night where you go out for a meal, or to see a movie will keep your relationship from only being centered around work and the children. Being self-employed and working from home can mean you don’t get a lot of time to chat with other adults, so one-on-one time with your partner will give you a chance to feel a bit more like yourself again. Don’t forget that your partner is there to support you, so if you are feeling overwhelmed, you can ask them to take over a few responsibilities while you catch up on deadlines.
Avoid doing too much
While your to-do list might be longer than ever, it’s important not to stretch yourself too thin. You might feel like you can handle everything without any problems, but it won’t be long before you burn yourself out. Juggling parenting with self-employment can be a recipe for disaster if you don’t know your limits, so make sure you’re realistic about what you can accomplish.
Practice saying no to clients who try to rush you on deadlines and set boundaries with your kids. If it’s your partner’s turn to oversee bedtime, then try not to cave when your little ones ask you to do it instead. We all have to make sacrifices and wanting to have it all every single day is simply not realistic, and that’s ok.
Have a plan
If you’re going to have a lot on your plate nearly every day of the week then it’s important to stay organized. Even if you’ve never been someone who has a diary or calendar, there’s no time like the present. You’ll be amazed at how much less rushing around you’ll have to do by simply keeping track of everything that needs to be done. Try to stick to a schedule and set aside blocks of time for certain tasks. This doesn’t mean that every day will go completely to plan, but you’ll be able to avoid double-booking yourself. Writing down what you have to do also allows you to let go. Rather than holding onto everything in your mind, let your calendar do the hard work for you.
Communicate as much as possible
Balancing your work and home life will require a lot of communication. Nobody will know you’re struggling if you don’t speak up, so make sure you’re managing expectations by being honest about your availability. The most important people you need to communicate with are your children. If you’ve recently become self-employed, your kids might be confused why you can’t play with them all day when you’re at home. You need to put boundaries in place and help them to understand that you’re not just at home but at work as well. With a little bit of time, they’ll begin to know not to bother you when you’re working at your desk.
Don’t feel guilty
While this is easier said than done, you need to try and let go of guilt as much as possible. It’s easy to feel bad for missing out on bedtimes and playtimes, but the work you’re doing is going towards supporting your children. Equally, if you can’t meet a client’s extra demands, don’t feel like you’re letting them down, especially if the requests came out of nowhere. Politely explain that you don’t have the capacity, even if you’re not doing anything special. You’re always going to have to compromise a little bit, so practice emotionally letting go.
Balancing parenting with your life as a self-employed freelancer or business owner will take practice. It might seem like a shock to the system at the beginning, but in time you’ll be feeling more confident with your lifestyle. Be gentle with yourself and try to enjoy all the benefits this new change brings.