One of the primary reasons people establish home based businesses is so they can work around their families and enjoy more flexible lifestyles. There are some big advantages to working from home. If you’re a work-at-home mum, you can work around the school schedule without the long commute each day. Dads who work from home can spend more time with their families and for those who aren’t parents, working from home means greater flexibility. Well, that’s the idea anyway.
The reality can be working all hours of the day, neglecting family time and time for yourself, RSI and lots of coffee. The truth is, it can be hard work starting up a business from scratch, particularly if you’re doing it all yourself. If you’re just making a few craft items a day and listing them on Etsy or selling them at the occasional market, then you’re probably going to enjoy the benefits of working around your family. However, if you are establishing a business you plan to grow, you may find it more challenging to keep a balance.
Below are some tips to help you balance work with your family (and your own) needs.
If you have small children at home, it may be tempting to think you can work around nap times. This may be the case for a period of time. However, most work-at-home mums find they need to organise daycare at some point in the journey. Childcare options include nannies, au pairs, family daycare, in-home family daycare if you have children with disabilities, and childcare centres. The Australian Government website has a lot of information about childcare options: http://australia.gov.au/topics/benefits-payments-and-services/child-care. Government websites in other countries may have similar webpages, so it’s worth having a look.
Hire a Cleaner
When you are passionate about your business, it is hard to stop, and if you’re not careful, things like family activities, cleaning the house, gardening, doing the grocery shopping and preparing meals can take a back seat. I know, from personal experience, that it doesn’t feel good to work in a neglected environment. One of the things I have done recently is hire a cleaner to come and clean the house once a week, to help me with my workload. Not everyone can afford this option of course, and a few months ago, I couldn’t either. However, if you can work it into your budget, it may take the pressure off.
Distinguish work time from family time
It is a good idea to set aside time for just connecting with your family. If work is interfering with family life to the extent that you aren’t able to do any other activities together, then that’s a massive red flag that changes need to be made. Here’s some ideas on how you can better distinguish between work and family time.
- Choose to turn off the mobile or computer after a certain time of day and on weekends.
- Get together with other friends to prepare a bunch of family meals so that cooking doesn’t take up as much time.
- Take regular breaks from the computer and plan your time on social media by writing a schedule of posts for the week.
- If you find cleaning the house overwhelming and can’t afford a cleaner, focus on one room for 15 minutes. Something is better than nothing and you’ll feel a lot better.
Look after you
It is really easy to forget about looking after yourself when you work from home. So here’s a list of some things you might want to put higher on the priority list:
- Eat a balanced diet of whole foods,
- Exercise regularly,
- Take the time to make health care appointments for yourself (naturopath, chiropractor, doctor, dentist, homeopath etc),
- Get your hair cut,
- Book a massage on a regular basis if you can. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.
- Read a book just for the sake of it,
- Watch TV or listen to talk back radio,
- Enjoy your garden,
- Visit with friends and/or family.
Support Each Other
This may seem obvious, but you can use your online networks to get to know other WAHPs in your area and together you can support each other in a number of ways. Here are a few suggestions:
- Get together for a coffee and a play-date at a local play café or pub with a playground.
- Get together once a month for baking days so you can make a stack of family meals in one hit.
- Offer to support each other with child-minding and use a points system to keep track of who has taken this up and who has helped out.
- Collaborate on list building and page building promotions.
What are some of your ideas for balancing business with your family life?
This article is adapted from my ebook “Diving In: Practical tips for starting up and growing your home based business.”