How to balance your kids and your business - a lesson I'm still learning!
Everyone remembers the time that Professor Robert Kelly was explaining South Korean politics live on the BBC when his child unceremoniously burst into the room. Whilst absolutely hilarious for viewers, what it did was underscore how difficult it can be to do your job when you have kids. This is especially pertinent when you are starting your own business. I for one find it a constant challenge to strike the balance between building www.fiveinaboat.com and making sure that I spend quality time with my little girl; to not pick up the phone when a client is calling at bedtime and to tear myself away from an urgent email so that I can answer my daughter’s string of never-ending, and often inane, questions. And it’s not that I don’t want to spend my time with my family – I love nothing more – there’s just this constant pressure that if you take your eye off the ball for even a minute you’ll miss out on that opportunity or you’ll make a mistake or you’ll lose a piece of business.
So how do you make it work for both your kids and your company? Here are my tips:
1. Carve out time and be consistent with it – when I worked at HTC, one of the senior leaders made it very clear that the time between 5.30 and 7.30pm each day was family time. Outside of this he would always be available but he would nevermiss that slot with his kids. Making and keeping that time is super important. It will manage expectations with your boss and clients, it will keep you focused, and it will keep your family happy.
2. Put your phone / laptop down when your child is talking to you. I can’t stress this enough. However important your job / your business is, you do not want your child growing up resenting you because you were ‘always on the phone’. Even worse, you do not want them following in your footsteps and doing the same to you or to their kids.
3. If you can’t separate your children from your business then get them involved. I am not proposing that you get them writing press releases or pitching journalists (especially not at three anyway, which is the age of my little girl) but explain what you are doing and why it is important. Let them carry your laptop and read through your notebook. Make them feel a part of it.
4. Learn to say no to things that don’t ultimately benefit your family. Now this is hard when starting a business because the temptation is to say yes to everything. But you have to remind yourself why you are doing it. Yes you might want to be the next Elon Musk, yes you might need to prove something to yourself, yes the thought of owning a successful company might massively excite you but, at the end of the day, if it isn’t good for your family, it isn’t good for you!
5. Give yourself ‘you time’! Something else that seems impossible when you are busy running a business and trying to be a great parent, but everyone needs a bit of time out once in a while. Find something of interest that is neither related to your business nor your family. For me, it’s running. It will give you a breather, it will make you appreciate the time you do spend with your kids and it will make sure you are even more on the ball when you are back behind your desk or in that all important client meeting.