My top five tips for successfully starting a business as a single parent
Tip 1 Let it go!
Not in the Princess Elsa, Frozen kind of way. But you are singing it now aren’t you? I mean in the Buddhist, mindful, self-preservation kind of way. You need to let go of the guilt that rises when you are spending time on your business that you perhaps used to spend with your kids.
When they are watching their fourteenth movie for the day.
When you are rushing them off to bed because you have a date with the laptop.
I have been known to get into bed with a child and my laptop and work with a monkey attached to me and snoring under the covers.
Let it go.
It doesn’t matter.
See point four about spending time with your kids and just keep going. Let go too of your expectations. If you have five baskets of clothes that need ironing or the dishes haven’t been washed for two days – it actually doesn’t matter. If you have done something today towards making your dream a reality and/or you have happy clients and your family are still alive and smiling – that’s the important stuff, the ironing is down the list of priorities.
Tip 2 Be honest and open with your kids
Within the bounds of age appropriateness of course.
I operate a business that helps small to medium sized businesses with their social media. My son is a whiz at Facebook as a result but aside from that, he is being exposed to a world of business that many primary aged kids don’t get to see. I have had clients that operated cafes and he would come for a long time to our weekly meetings. He would set himself up with his ipad and his triple chocolate milkshake and absorb the meeting whilst slurping and playing minecraft.
I talk to him about the things that are going on in my business and he understands my goals and my plan for my business in his terms and in a way that relates to him.
Just this weekend, I have been busy working for a new client. As I tucked him into bed at the end of a day where he largely entertained himself, I told him that I was very proud of him for being so resilient while mummy had to work hard. I was able to tell him, that because he is so helpful while I got my work done, I now have enough clients that I can take one day off a week from my ‘other’ job. This means, for him, that one day a week we can have no work at all, I can bring the dog to pick him up from school instead of rushing around AND I can do excursions and classroom helping.
We talked about the things he had done to help me get to this and he went to sleep feeling a sense of ownership and sharing in the achievement – and so he should!
Tip 3 Be Organised
I am all about the process.
I am completely a creature of habit but only the habits that work.
I find that it is true that getting lunches ready and clothes laid out the night before, saves twice that amount of time the next day. Having a running shopping list so that you never forget to replace the thing you ran out of last Thursday. And by being organised, I mean with your social diary too.
Sometimes the best way to see all your favourite people at a time that suits you, is by being the organiser. So start sending text message invites to family dinners, or email the girls for a girls night on the night you are allowing yourself off this week.
Tip 4 Schedule time with your kids
And involve them in the process too!
I sit down at the start of a weekend and talk about the things that we need to do over the next couple of days.
There are the times that we need to do boring house stuff and there are times that we have social things to go to and there are times that we can do fun stuff together and there are times when mum needs to work. I am very clear about putting start/stop triggers in place for these.
So, this weekend for example we had one day that looked like this;
- in the morning we need to do house stuff together until it is time to go out;
- then we were invited to a park play date with a group of parents and kids so that took up the couple of hours before lunch;
- home for lunch was the next trigger because after that was time for a movie or computer games for a few hours while mum worked.
- After this was dinner and some fun before bed.
Talking through the schedule throughout the day sets expectations and allows everyone to own part of the day and have their needs met.
Tip 5 Time for Me
This should probably be at the top of the list. It is so so so so important.
If you don’t find the time to put back into yourself things start to fall between the cracks.
You get grumpy and short with the kids, you start to get run down and sick, you don’t have the energy to put into your business as you should.
For me, it is training at the gym that gives me this time out. Somewhere to clear my head and take care of myself. When I take care of my body and I feel healthy and physically strong, I am better equipped to take on the million other things on my plate. I know from experience that, when I get busy, if I choose to stop training for a week or two ‘just until I catch up’, I end up getting sick, or feeling sluggish or just plain old in a bad mood. It isn’t worth it for me.
It doesn’t even have to be exercise – it could be a once a week book club – whatever feeds your soul and makes you feel as though you have topped up your reserves.
Another thing that I do as a weekly ritual is to force myself, once a week to go to bed when it is kid bedtime. This means that at least one night a week I am getting my full quota of sleep. The experts would probably disagree with running like this but it is how I make it work. I seem to be able to cope with 5 or 6 hours sleep a night on all the other nights if I am getting this one night of about 10 or 11 hours.
I won’t lie to you. It isn’t easy. It’s a tough gig and there are times that I want to run screaming for the hills but it IS worth it. And as I sit here staring at another midnight finish, I feel proud of what I have achieved and how I model strength and persistence and motivation to the small people in my life….I hope you do too.
Blogger Bio: Min Giannini
Min is a solo mum of a gorgeous 8 year old Monster. They live in rural Victoria where she settled after spending years working in investment banking in London. Min has a passion and a talent for helping small businesses to grow by using social media marketing. She also has a passion for the white wines of New Zealand and Chocolate from pretty much anywhere. www.sailesocialmedia.com
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