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Are You Compromising on Family Time?

Updated: Apr 13

Have you ever felt that pang of guilt when one of your children looks at you with doleful eyes after you tell them you can't make it somewhere or just don't have the time right now? It hurts, doesn't it? You feel a pain in your heart but then logic kicks in and you tell yourself you have no choice, but is that true?

The business world is fickle in the sense that people often put on a front when showing others what their lives are like. Social media is wrought with entrepreneurs claiming to be doing really well, hitting their goals consistently, bringing in new clients, and basically smashing it. More often than not though, there's a trade-off for all of this success, if that success is even true in the first place.

The other thing about social media is the message that comes across that the only way to succeed is by working hard. Whilst it's true we do have to put the effort if we want our businesses to be successful, that shouldn't mean working 24/7 and compromising on our family time.

I firmly believe setting boundaries within your business from the outset is crucial to a successful work-life balance, and if your business is already established, with a bit of juggling, these boundaries can be implemented. I'm not talking about boundaries with colleagues or clients, more specifically, the boundaries you put in place that will ensure you do not compromise on family time. You can read more about setting boundaries here.

Today, I want you to start being honest with yourself. Ok, so there will be times when your children or spouse will ask you to make time for them, whether that's to attend a school play or go out for a meal, and you genuinely won't have the time for it. This might be because you have a meeting or a deadline to meet and trying to get small children or partners who aren't involved in the business to understand why this is so important can be near on impossible.

However, you have to make sure when you say you can't do something, you genuinely can't do it. It's about recognising what's an excuse and what can't be helped. It's about being absolutely conscious about your family, and their needs, and having those boundaries in place.

Let's say your child wants you to watch them perform a magic trick they've been working on. You're busy on your phone or computer and you don't feel like you can give them that time so you tell them to wait, or that you will watch later. What you aren't seeing at that moment is the disappointment your child feels and how memories of their parent telling them that they didn't have time for them, will affect them in later life. If you genuinely have to do something at that moment that cannot wait, fine, just make sure as soon as it is done, you put your device away and make the time to be fully present for your child. That way, they might remember you being busy but will associate it with you always making time for them.

If you originally set up rules that were supposed to be non-compromisable, but have since slipped, you need to realise that and get it back on track. Let's say you scheduled one day each month that was for you and your children to do something together, either because they don't attend school yet, or after school. Perhaps as your business has become more demanding, you've stopped spending this time with them but fully intend to get it back on track once...

Once what? This is when you need to be honest with yourself because actually, you're never going to get back on track. It's always better not to compromise in the first place. If you have scheduled a once-a-month day or afternoon with your children, STICK TO IT. Block it out in your diary, and make it clear to customers from the outset that you do not work on this particular day at this particular time.

To counteract the needs of the business by taking this one day or afternoon, perhaps your boundaries need to be adjusted. Maybe now that your business is more demanding, you have one day per week where you work later. It's much better for your family to have you home four days out of five, where you can be fully present and stick to your commitments, whilst understanding that once per week, they might not get you home to have dinner with them or put the children to bed. This one day will not make the difference when they will all still know where they stand with you the rest of the time, and, as a bonus, you will feel much less pressured knowing you have this one day per week to fall back on. To be able to work late without question.

Many business owners tell themselves they are doing what they are doing for their children, to build a better life for them, and whilst that might be true, you have to ask yourself if that's what your children really need or want. Would they much prefer to have a parent who is present? What good is working all the hours under the sun to provide an amazing life for your family, if you are never there to enjoy it with them?

You might be reading this asking yourself, well, what's the answer? How are you supposed to split yourself down the middle and make everyone happy? Quite simply, you aren't. There's no way you can do that. The only real way to keep your time as free as it was when you first started your business, as it grows and becomes more demanding, is by having a team around you. You have to have people to lean back on and to delegate to.

If you attempt to do it all yourself, something in your life will have to compromise and that something is often your family. Is it worth it? Wouldn't it be better to spend a bit of extra money to free up your time, so that you can spend those hours with the ones that you love?

If you are one of those people that says, "how can I delegate if I can't afford it"? read this post. At the end of the day, none of us know what's around the corner, but what shouldn't be lurking there is regret. You don't want to get to a point in the future and find yourself alone because the people you loved felt you no longer cared about them and have since moved on. You don't want to feel that stab of pain when your grown-up child tells you that they felt you were never there for them, trust me, they won't care about the nice house or holidays once the damage is done.

There are worse outcomes, of course, finding out you or someone you love is ill and suddenly, none of what you are doing really matters anymore. It's about finding the balance and being present of mind enough to know when you're going in the wrong direction. Life is too short, we all say that and we say it flippantly, but it is. Running your business will not be worth it if you have nothing to show for it when it's time to look back.


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