Tips for Balancing Work + Kids

This post is Day #18 in the 31 Days to a Better Work + Life Balance series.

I’ve heard from a lot of small biz owners who are worried about the mom thing…

When should I start having kids? What if I never have time for them? Will my business fall apart? Am I going to be able to find a balance?

I started my business right when my oldest son was about 8 months, so I’ve always kind of juggled the two together. I would find little pockets of time during naps, let him play beside me while I planned and some days skip working altogether. Then when my second baby was born, I worried a little about how I’d find the time for two plus a business, but it works about the same way.

Now I’m about to transition to three kids under five and every once in awhile I’ll have those same worries again. Am I going to be able to find balance?

Deep down I know I'll always find a way to work with the time I have. Sometimes I think working actually helps me be a better mom and being a mom helps me be purposeful at my job. But there’s one key rule:

Be Really There

One thing that can happen easily is this problem of being there but not really there.

For example if I decided to work while the kids play in my office. I’d be physically there, but my mind wouldn't be fully on one or the other. I’d find myself half-heartedly playing with the kids, getting grumpy because I coudln't focus on work. In these situations I’m not really doing a good job at either one, so I try to avoid them at all costs. When it's their time, I try to put the computer/ipad/phone away. I get much more done when I can be fully “in-the-zone” at work anyway.

In order to be really there, here's what I try to do regularly...

Start Scheduling With The Kids

Why? You are irreplaceable to them. Clients can always find another business, but you're their only mommy. So start with them. When are they already kind of busy?

  • Naptime/Room playtime - 1-2 hours a day my kids are independently playing or sleeping
  • School - While Micah's at preschool, I spend half the morning focusing on Ari and the other half working while she has room playtime or iPad time  
  • Before they wake up/After they go to bed - they don't need me while they're sleeping:)

Make Their Time Count

Have a mental to-do list of all you want to do with them when it’s their time. If I'm not purposeful with what we’re doing together, I can be tempted to get back to work and let them have more screen time. Not ideal at all.

  • Outside time/Field trips - fun things to get out of the house help us all get a break
  • Music/Crafts/Books/Games - we try to at least 15 min of each of these daily 
  • Floortime/One-on-one time - this time is especially important for my autistic boy

Accept Help Or Pay For It

I usually try to accept a lot more help during busy season. Asking extended family or having the kids go on a “daddy adventure” on the weekends helps so much. We also used to pay for a “moms day out” program before Micah was in preschool. It was only a few hours once a week but it was worth it just to have one day to catch up.

Know Where To Draw The Line

I have to be really careful not to take on more than I can handle at work. This means I rarely do extra custom projects. Instead I keep a waiting list of projects for the slower seasons. It’s not fair to my clients or my family if I’m overworking myself and not able to get things done by the deadline. 

One truth that I have to keep reminding myself is that there isn’t a perfect balance. 

It’s not like everything falls neatly into place everyday. I still struggle with mom-guilt wondering if I’m doing everything right. Or client-guilt wondering if I’m failing them when I can’t take on projects or answer emails quickly enough. I've found that you just kind of have to find ways to make it work if you value both. And then you have to be okay with putting work down sometimes even when it doesn’t feel finished. 

What's your biggest worry/struggle when it comes to balancing work + kids?