5 ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance
Juggling a family and running a business is hard work. Often the guilt of taking those weekend calls and getting home late eats away at you. On the flipside, you can work more flexible hours to attend parents evening and sports days and, if things go well, give your kids a great start in life.
I started my business from scratch; hit the recession; became pregnant; took on staff and now I enjoy a wonderful work/life balance. This was not without tough lessons.
Perhaps one of the biggest life lessons I learned early on was the importance of keeping on top of all aspects of the business - particularly recruitment. In the early days we had our share of ups and downs with a couple of members of staff, but we've ended up with a passionate, amazing team of lawyers who genuinely care about their clients.
If I was going to advise anyone on how to balance family life with business I would say there are five golden rules:
Surround yourself with good people both in business and in your private life so you can discuss, trust and confide in them. Having a good accountant and lawyer means you can take practical and professional advice to help your business succeed. Also having a parent, sibling, spouse or friend to moan at, challenge your ideas and tell you you’re not a bad parent for working late makes life possible;
Always make time for the family whether it is putting the children to bed, taking a day off in the month to go someplace special , a date night once a week – where your mobile phone is turned off. Otherwise work overtakes life and before you know it your children have grown up and your partner has lost sight of why they were with you; and
Make time for fun away from work and the family otherwise you will no longer recognise yourself. I am a business owner, mum, wife, employer, but occasionally I need time to be a women who shops, enjoys a glass of wine or a gossip with my girlfriends.
Be good to others in your team. Always remember how you felt as a mum/dad (before you set up your own company). As an employer I allow mothers to work from home, job share and fathers to share maternity leave. I generally give all my staff longer holiday periods and flexible time. A happy work team means a happy environment to work in and therefore happy clients and customers.
Set yourself reasonable and achievable goals to focus your drive, but also to allow you time out when you need it. Burning yourself out is something I have witnessed many business owners and especially parents do and as a result your business becomes like a job that you’re stuck in and you don't enjoy. If you don't enjoy your business and feel that you have not hit your targets, it's not only hard to thrive, but your family life will feel the stress and pressure and it can eat into that too.
Karen Holden is the founder of A City Law Firm, a UK firm dedicated to working with entrepreneurs and business leaders. She is also shortlisted for the Working Mum Champion 2016 award.
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