Congratulations on becoming a parent! Having a baby, adopting a child, or welcoming a stepkid into the fold is very exciting. After you’ve settled in, you’ll quickly realize that growing families are a lot like growing businesses: They require a lot of your time and energy.
How do entrepreneurial new moms and dads surmount the challenges of nurturing both a business and a family? Here are four tips for finding a solid work-life balance:
1. Delegate as many tasks as possible. If you’re a sole proprietor, consider recruiting a student intern or hiring an assistant to handle your simpler job duties, such as running errands and answering the phone. Assigning tasks to others need not be a permanent handoff. Give yourself six months to see how you’re managing your new parental responsibilities, then adjust your workload as needed. Note to mothers of newborns who run businesses: Seriously, unless you’re a triathlete, you’ll find the services of a family helper to be a lifesaver (at least for the first month or two).
2. Find a supportive network. Sharing experiences and friendship with others who’ve spent time in the trenches can boost your spirits — and may even provide inspiration for your business too. So says Christie Schultz, founder of Entrepreneurial Moms International. Spending time with “dream-chasing leaders, butt-kicking achievers, boo-boo kissing nurturers, and high-fiving cheerleaders” gives women entrepreneurs a pick-me-up after a week filled with the tasks of caring for children, she says.
3. Take care of yourself. Hit the gym, go for that evening stroll, journal your thoughts, or just relax on the couch. “Self-care isn’t something that visits me like a distant cousin, but instead it is a part of my daily experience,” writes Mia Redrick, CEO of Finding Definitions and a mother of three. “Some days are simple rituals, such as journaling while having my favorite cup of tea, and other days it might mean a visit to see my favorite play, friend, or personal trainer.” Redrick says she makes a date with herself each week to recharge.
4. Set limits. Startup businesses function better with constraints. Ditto for parents, says Natalie Gordon, founder of BabyList. A new child will most certainly put the brakes on staying late at the office, for example. Gordon says parents should consider shortening their workweek by 10 to 15 hours in the first six weeks of parenting a new child. “I’d challenge anyone who says that being a mom and raising a family is a disadvantage when starting a business. It’s just a different constraint.”