How to be a Good Parent, for the Lesser Mortal Startup Entrepreneurs
Yes, for those Startup Entrepreneurs, who cannot fly around the world with their kids, who cannot hire nannies at lavish hotels, and for those who do not have superhero, super-dad, super-mom tricks up their sleeves.
Being a Startup Founder and a parent; while seemingly dissimilar, both require a great deal of time, skill and dedication in order to be successful. It may sound like a daunting task, but is possible to run your startup while still maintaining a good relationship with your children.
Founding a startup can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor, but it is also a time consuming process. In order to accomplish your goals while still maintaining a healthy home life, it is important to manage your time wisely. It is easy to get caught up in the stress and excitement of your startup and neglect your family. By the same token, the commotion of a busy family life can cause you to neglect your startup. A healthy balance between work and family is absolutely necessary to running a successful startup while still being a good parent to your children.
Many have written and advocated on effective time management and routines to help you be a super-parent and a hustling Startup Founder. As a Startup Founder, you have to find your ‘style’ of time management and (un)routine to be omni-present for your startup and your family.
Let’s look at few simple changes to your routine to help you achieve that (almost) perfect balance. Good time management is essential to being a good parent while founding a startup. A crucial time management skill is the ability to adhere to a schedule or routine. This skill is especially important when juggling a startup and family life.
A great way to start is to plan your day ahead of time. Keep a list or agenda of meetings, tasks, and duties related to your startup. For some, a tablet or smart phone calendar is a great resource for this step, for others a simple paper to-do list will suffice.
Prioritize each responsibility and complete the most important tasks first. Before bed each night, determine which tasks you intend to accomplish the next day.
One at a Time
Be reasonable - taking on too many tasks in a single day can be taxing for both you and your family. Keeping a daily or weekly calendar of all work and family obligations will help you balance your responsibilities both at home and at your startup.
Budget your Time, Stick to Schedules
Budgeting your time will also help you stay on task. Determine how many hours you will spend on work each day, and stick to your schedule.
After your work hours are complete, be sure to set aside time to spend with your children. Perhaps you can schedule time after dinner to devote to playing with your kids, or spend a few afternoons each week helping them with their homework. Even just an hour or two of your time each day can make a world of difference in their lives, and it is important to include this time in your daily schedule to ensure that it is not overlooked?
Compartmentalize Work and Home
Another key to being a good parent while founding a startup is to avoid bringing your work home with you. During those hours set aside for family time, avoid distractions related to your startup. Resist the urge to answer emails or plan meetings while you are spending time with your children. Don’t bore or upset your family by complaining about your startup at the dinner table every night.
If necessary, take a moment to remind yourself that, ultimately, your children are what is most important. Your startup will not fail simply because you spent an hour playing with your children. So put your phone away and turn off your computer.
By putting work on hold and allowing yourself to de-stress, an hour spent playing with your children can be as beneficial to you as it is to them. The time you spend with your children can be as simple or complex as you would like it to be. You could spend an hour reading to them or playing their favorite games at home, or you could spend an afternoon at a local museum or amusement park.
The possibilities are endless, and it is a good idea to encourage your children to let you know how they would like to spend their time with you. Seeking your children’s input not only helps them feel more involved during your family time, but it also demonstrates your desire to be a part of their daily lives. This is critically important in order to maintain a good relationship with your children throughout the often-tumultuous beginnings of your startup.
Make it clear to your co-founders and team at your startup that your children are your first priority, and thus you may be unavailable if an emergency or other situation arises at home.
Perhaps the most important way to be a good parent while founding a startup is to be flexible. Emergencies happen, schedules change, and disruptions to both your family and startup-related activities are possible. Being flexible about these unexpected occurrences can help you avoid unnecessary stress and dissent both at home and at work.
Keep your cell phone on and easily accessible so that your family or your co-founders can contact you if necessary. This will allow both parties the peace of mind of knowing they can reach you at any time. Keep the phone numbers of relatives or trusted babysitters handy so that you will be able to find a suitable caretaker for your children while you deal with unexpected problems at your startup. Do your best to attend the important events in the lives of your children - such as school plays, band concerts, and sporting events - even if it means taking an hour or two away from work.
Likewise, giving up the occasional evening at home to smooth out problems at your startup can help prevent future issues at work. Being flexible with both your work life and your home life is critical to being able to successfully found a startup while still being a good parent.
Being a startup founder and raising children are both extremely exciting and trying challenges in your life. The key to maintaining a healthy balance between the two is good time management. Sticking to a schedule, making time for your family, and being flexible are all essential to being successful in both endeavors.