One of the most common questions I receive from other mom business owners is, “How do you do what you do and still have time for your family?” Depending on the day, you might get a different answer. But there are some things that are pretty consistent about my family life.
I thought I'd share a few tidbits with you in the hopes that seeing how someone else manages it might help you strike your the best integration (notice I did not say “balance”) of work, life and family.
- I have a partner. Because I married someone who is as involved with our children as I am, I don't do “mom” things in my home. My husband washes and sorts more laundry than I do. He does most of the work associated with getting the kids ready for school, while I do most of the homework and kid scheduling stuff. (As I publish this blog post, my husband, Darryl, is upstairs helping them bathe and brush teeth right now.)
The routine varies a bit from time to time, but it's pretty much set until we decide to change it. We are a tag teaming duo when it comes to the kids.
I am not Super Woman, nor do I behave like her. I don't manage my home alone (nor should any married woman have to), and this frees me to do the work I love.
- The best play time is unplanned. While I schedule my share of time with my kids, the best play times are unplanned. If my workday is not too busy and my daughter wants to play Go Fish, we do that. These impromptu moments are so much fun, with the three of us often tickling each other to death, making funny noises, and just making each other laugh.
I have a lot of energy, so by the time I'm done with them, they've had just about enough of mommy, and they move onto something else. I'm quite crazy with them, so when we're done, they don't miss me at all. In fact, nowadays, more than anything, I'm a total embarrassment.
- I cook. Even though it's not my “thing,” I do cook. I have a few staple meals that everyone here likes. In case your interested, they are:
(1) chili with condiment options like sour cream, cheese, spring onions and a salad;
(2) baked whole chicken with green beans and boiled potatoes;
(3) spinach salad with lots of goodies like roasted red peppers, feta cheese, celery. red onions, dried cranberries, and bacon bits;
(4) vegetable soup (made with leftovers from meal #2); and
(5) tuna salad with pasta and vegetables.
See? Five days, five meals, done! Each takes about 30 minutes to prepare and I usually do it in between this email or that phone call — and sometimes while I'm on the phone.
Yes, this sometimes results in food that can only be described as “caramelized with love.”
My kids, ages 7 and 9, do a lot of the kitchen clean up. One of the best parts about being a mom is that other people can be trained to clean stuff up, even when you made the mess.
They'll be cooking for me soon soon, by the way.
- Date nights. My husband and I don't have very many of them. We consider this a temporary situation, and try to spend time together when we can. It may not be a “date,” but we make the most of it. It's a big challenge, probably the biggest one, but that's just how it is right now.
- Home cleaning. See #1. While my husband and I work together on this, it's not a strong suit for either of us. Rather than fuss over it (which we did for a while, by the way), we hired a fabulous cleaning lady named Miss Ellen. But she moved to Florida. I miss her and am looking to replace her. Know anyone?
So, that's pretty much it. Not all that exciting, is it?
We Planned It This Way
My husband and I married in 2000 knowing that I was an entrepreneur, and that I would work from home. The fact that we agreed in advance doesn't always make it easy, but it does provide perspective. No one is being caught off guard by this non-traditional arrangement, even though everyone doesn't always like it. There are times when it causes friction because I so love my life's work. That's just a part of it though. It is what it is.
We deal with it by focusing on the big picture — what we are creating over the long haul. This takes the focus off of the routine annoyances that might otherwise thwart our progress. It's not easy, but then, what is?
Question: If you're a mom business, with a husband and young kids, how do you successfully integrate work, life, and family?