With today’s economic pressures, many households need two incomes and a home-based business could be the perfect flexible solution. But childcare and home-based businesses are equally demanding. How can you juggle the two, and excel at both? We’re going to share our top tips.
No matter what anyone says, raising kids while running a business is hard. It’s like you’re committing to two full-time jobs, which both need your focused attention throughout the day.
Working parents have relied on day-cares, schools, nannies (maybe even the TV?) and flexible hours to cope. Everyone has a different strategy because, unfortunately, there’s no golden handbook for getting this balancing act right. What you need is to find the route that works best for you and your family.
Can you be a parent and franchisee at the same time? There are advantages to running a home based franchise, one of which is lots of room to find this balance. With flexible working hours – and extra hours saved on commutes and cooler chats – you can mould a routine that gets work and childcare done.
Here’s a few tips you might find useful as you explore what works for you.
1. Set a schedule as a family
One of the first rules drilled into new parents is the importance of routine. You and your family will appreciate a schedule now more than ever.
Draw up a daily, or weekly, planner, deciding which hours of the day you’re dedicating to work and which hours to family. Decide what is allowed and what is not allowed during work and family time. This could be a no emails policy during family time, or a no-entering-the-office-during-work-time rule. Then stick to it as best you can. Consistency and clear boundaries set expectations that help you and your kids cope better.
Importantly, plan this schedule as a family. This will help everyone feel heard and valued. Additionally, everyone is more likely to stick to a schedule if they’ve had a hand in it.There will, of course, be days when you’ll need to be flexible. Perhaps there’s a school concert, or a work emergency. Acknowledge these will happen, and have contingency plans in place so that these aren’t too disruptive. Don’t beat yourself up either – you’ve not failed as a parent or a business owner if you don’t always nail this balance.
Once the schedule is ready, display it in the kitchen, or on your office door. Having a visual reminder or checker will be handy until everyone’s familiar with it.
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2. Be smart about your hours
While you’re planning, think about what type of person you are, what type of family you have, and which line of work you’re in. Are you a night owl, or do you get your best work done in the mornings? Do you have young children or school-going children? Do you run a business like tutoring, which can only take clients in the afternoon?
Now strike a balance between the three. Use mornings when your kids are at school to get some solid hours of work done. If you have younger children, use nap times to take important calls. If you’re a night owl, spend the afternoons with your children and work a few hours once they’re asleep. If you have a partner with flexible hours, consider doing shifts, where one parent works mornings and the other afternoons.
The important thing is to understand everyone’s needs and plan accordingly.
At first, having only three hours of work in the morning might terrify you, especially if your to-do list is long. However, you’ll soon find yourself more productive for it – using every second of your time wisely to work from home like a pro.
3. Be fully attentive to work and family when it’s their time
The work / childcare balance breaks down when one’s time interferes with the other. It causes resentment. Whether you’re reading emails on your phone during play time, or getting nagged at during work time, frustration and tempers will soon reach boiling point.
When it’s work time, be fully attentive to it. Nip off to put on the laundry if you have to, but otherwise try avoid household distractions. Likewise, when it’s family time, give it your full focus. Your schedule will help set these boundaries and expectations.
If you have older children, you could get creative in combining work and family time. If you run a hairdressing salon or dog grooming business, your kids might be keen to join you in washing, sweeping or packing shelves. Offer them an allowance for it, or just use it as extra bonding time and work experience.
4. Make your office hours known
Deciding on your hours split with your family is step one. Step two is communicating your working hours to your clients. Let clients know when they can expect an email response, or when they can call or book an appointment with you. Be as strict as you can in adhering to these. Set an out-of-office reply when you’re away from your desk, reminding clients of your hours and letting them know how soon you will get back to them.
Try and have two separate phones, one for work and one for personal use. Put the work phone away outside of office hours, so that it can’t distract you. Give your personal number out only to those who might need you in an emergency, like your franchisor. But make sure they respect this privilege. If your franchisor messages you early in the morning on your personal phone with something that isn’t an emergency, wait until an acceptable hour to respond. Establish these ground rules as early as you can, so that you set the tone.
What happens if you have children years after operating in a particular way? Let your clients know well in advance when significant changes are coming. Start making the transition before the day arrives so that it’s smooth for everyone.
>> Read more:
- 7 Advantages of Running a Home-Based Business
- 10 Tips for Creating Work-Life Balance When Working From Home
- 10 Tips for Working From Home Like a Pro
- Top 5 home-based business ideas
- Top 8 Home-Based Franchises for Every Investment Level
5. Have a dedicated workspace
This might be a given if you have a beauty salon franchise, or run a fitness franchise. However, if it’s just you and your computer, try and establish a dedicated workspace (if you can) – away from the couch or kitchen table where kids like to be.
Set rules and teach your children to respect that space. For example, if they are allowed into your office, they have to use quiet voices, or only enter at certain times. And if they have a question, they need to tap you on the shoulder, not yell it out across the room.
Having a dedicated space will also help you keep your work and home life separate and stick to your hours. You’ll be able to concentrate a lot better if you can’t see the dishes pile getting higher, or your partner watching a movie that you’d rather be paying attention to.
6. Get comfortable delegating
This is important only if you have employees. To lessen your workload, review your tasks and decide which ones only you can complete, and what you can reasonably hand off to your employees. Resist feeling guilty for doing this – delegation is a great skill that develops your leadership ability and helps your employees grow. You could also ask your employees which areas they would like to expand their skills in – you might just have the perfect task to hand over that will act as a useful part of their career development.
7. Be upfront with your franchisor
If you are a working parent, or become one at some point, let your franchisor know as soon as possible. When they understand your situation, they’ll know how best to support and engage with you. They’ll also be more mindful when scheduling any meetings, training sessions or events. Fortunately, home based franchisors already offer – and expect – flexible arrangements.
8. Go easy on the guilt
Every working parents feels guilty for working when kids are around, or for playing when there’s work to be done. The truth is, you’re going to drop the ball as a business owner and as a parent at least once – or even several times. Acknowledge this possibility, but recognise you’re doing the best you can. You’ve made an incredible sacrifice to be at home with your family more. Your children are learning valuable work ethic from you and enjoying a better childhood with your extra income. And you’re unlikely to do any permanent damage to your work or children for focusing on both – promise.
Are you a parent looking to run your own franchise from home? Explore the home based franchises we have on offer.
Sophie Cole, Point Franchise ©