Raising children as entrepreneurial parents is challenging, to say the least. Some would even say it’s down-right loony! But that’s exactly what Pilar and I have set out to do. Juggling the duties of a business owner, marketer, blogger, and parent takes a lot of effort, especially with two rambunctious boys. But somehow, we make it work one day at a time.
We’ve been at this now for the last 4 years and have gone through all the imaginal trials and tribulations. So we thought we would share some of our experience and came up with nine tips on how we stay on track with what’s probably been the most difficult yet rewarding time of our lives.
A caveat here is this post has been written from the perspective of entrepreneurial parents of small children with our business very much in the start-up phase. But the tips below can be applied to just about any age of child or business phase.
Tip 1. Prioritize
If the day had more hours then this wouldn’t be a problem, but 24 just aren’t enough! So, unless getting the laundry done is more important than picking up your new business cards, let it wait.
In most entrepreneurial homes I’m familiar with there is always a list of chores and obligations. Answer emails, go to the printers, vacuum the house, make the beds, have a coffee with your friends… It’s just not possible to do everything.
Ask yourself this: what is urgent and what can you do without?
In our house, we have come to the understanding that between the business, the kids, our relationship and the house, the house loses. Only when we have visitors do we lift a finger to straighten up. Housework just isn’t a priority when we have so many other things to do. Depending on their age, using your kids to help out is also a great solution.
Tip 2. Efficient planning
Being an entrepreneur and a parent means one thing: planning planning planning. Once you leave the house to drop off the kids, hit as many things on your to-do list as possible. For example, go to the shop, the post office, pick up your dry cleaning, etc., all with a planned route in mind. The more things you can take care of along the way the better.
Basically, cut the need to leave the house or office to a minimum. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting home and forgetting you need to go to the hardware store! Make lists if you have to or put it on your agenda, however you like to organize things. By making efficient planning a part of your life the stress will invariably decrease and free you up for more creative or financially beneficial activities.
Tip 3. Don’t rush things
Not rushing things, especially when getting the kids ready for school or other time-sensitive tasks, is critical in keeping stress levels and mental health in check. Wake the kids up with enough time to do everything necessary for the morning routine. If your kids are like ours, you could die of old age just getting them to finish their breakfast.
You need to be patient with their time needs. Kids are slow and cost us nerves, but their sense of time is completely different than ours. But, if you start out in rush, your whole day will end up like that.
We want to raise independent kids
If they do things themselves that saves you time and nerves. But they need enough time to learn these things. Having a schedule is a great way to plan mornings but always with a bit of extra time included. Our 4-year-old is still learning how to get dressed and can take 10 minutes just to put his sweater on! But knowing this we always allocate that extra time he needs.
Tip 4. Take time for yourself
My mornings start with me rising 2 hours before anyone just to get a little me time. I do yoga, calisthenics and meditate for about an hour, then I read and have some coffee just to load my batteries for the busy day ahead.
5 o’clock wake up time!?
This might seem like an insane hour to wake up but getting all this stuff out of the way early in the morning ensures not only that I will do it, but it’s also great mental preparation for the heavy workload. I wake up Pilar around 7 so that she can also enjoy a little peace and quiet before the boys emerge from their hibernation. But her ‘free time’ is in reality work time. The only real break for her comes with a bath, a very long one!
Tip 5. Work as a team
The best gift you can give your partner as an entrepreneurial parent is the gift of time. One takes the kids the other takes a timeout. Meet with friends, go for a walk, take a bath, go to the gym, whatever you need to unwind and relax for a bit or let off some steam.
Make sure you do this with equal time allotted for each and with regularity. Contact with the outside world is so much more important than we think. Without it, we literally would go nuts.
Tip 6. Be present
I’ve been meditating for 17 years and if it weren’t for mindfulness practice I wouldn’t have any of the focus necessary to survive my days. Awareness of your mood, what you’re doing and how it affects you is critical to not only increasing sales but raising good kids.
When you’re playing catch, play catch. Don’t whip out your cell every five minutes. If you’re writing a press release, make sure the room is quiet and you’re undisturbed and just write.
This may all seem very obvious, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to get distracted. Especially for those who think they can multi-task. Just to let you know, it’s impossible!
Keep all the things for your day organized with an agenda or digital planner. If you don’t know what’s happening next, then you’ll hardly be able to concentrate on the task at hand. Take as much thinking out of the process and automate.
Tip 7. Get an assistant
The 4 Hour work-week by Time Ferris has many tips on this topic. I definitely recommend buy it and studying it intensely. If you can afford an assistant, either VA or real, get one. You’d be amazed at how much of our day gets wasted with tedious crap. The more focused on our priorities we can stay, the more productive we are.
Tip 8. Have a purpose
No entrepreneur has ever succeeded without an ultimate goal in mind. Being a parent is no different. Our friends think we’re crazy and at times we have reached the limits of our sanity. However, there is a simple explanation as to how we are able to carry on day in day out in this mayhem: strength of purpose.
Once we decided we wanted more for our children, to have financial freedom and enjoy life to the fullest, there was no stopping us. Once your purpose is set, let nothing get in your way. Having a purpose is the goal and this is the energy which gets you through even the darkest of times.
Tip 9. Learn a minimalist existence
We have learned to go without. We rarely go to restaurants, we don’t travel, we buy our kids all that they need but our closets look like rags from the thrift stores. I don’t even remember the last time Pilar bought a pair of shoes!
Can you go without that Starbucks latte?
We bought a reliable car in order to get the kids to school safely but I ride a very old Honda motorcycle, and I take it everywhere, no matter the weather. An austere life contributes to a more relaxed life. The fewer bills you have to worry about, the more you can focus on your kids and your business expenses.
Tip 10. Stay persistent
At times it is difficult stay on target. And after so many failed business attempts you’d think we would have thrown in the towel by now (this is our fourth business venture in five years). But, as I said, becoming entrepreneurs is our ultimate goal and we have learned from our failures. We have adopted a well-defined purpose and we have stayed persistent all along the way. Blood, sweat, and tears are part of the process.
We are convinced this is the right path for us.
All this and the power of positive thinking have enabled us to weather those hardships and get us through the lowest of the lows. But if you really want to know what drives us, it’s the kisses and “I love you’s” you’re able to give at night before collapsing into bed at the end of a long and arduous day. They keep the motivation high and the wheels rolling.
I know this list is quite dense and maybe even a little intimidating, hell I could write a whole article on each one of these points. But the purpose of this post is to motivate you, to let you know that all the suffering and agony is worth it. Ultimately, this entire endeavor is being able to earn enough money for financial independence to spend more time with the family.
Without the ones you love close to you, motivating you, pushing you to reach your highest potential, what’s the point? Their love and the burning desire to do good by them and for our planet are the reasons we endure all the torture of being entrepreneurial parents. We wouldn’t have it any other way.