"Time Is a Choice": What My 2-Year-Old Taught Me About Work/Life Balance
My daughter turns two today and just as I did on her first birthday, I’ve spent several weeks reflecting on her life to date and just feeling so damn proud. Not only of the incredible kid that she is but of who she has shaped me to be. She has brought out what I believe to be the very best in me and while my job as her mother is to guide her, to teach her and to give her the tools she needs for a happy and healthy life, over the past two years, there is so much that she’s taught me.
Being a hands-on mother while running my own consultancy, and trying to do both to my own high standards, hasn’t been easy. I launched KMC in January of this year; I had been consulting for a year before that but made it official just nine months ago. Once that happened, the business grew. My client list grew. My staff count grew. And so too did my responsibilities. During my most stressful moments, my daughter taught me to slow down, to be present and to come back to my why.
See below for the key lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Always Put Family and Friends First
Before Sunny, I was able to be selfish. The weekends revolved around what I wanted and needed to do but since having Sunny, I can see that my time is better spent on other people. I have made a conscious effort to make time for family and friends who are and will continue to be influential in our lives. Not only because it’s important to me, but because it will hopefully allow my daughter to recognise and give weight to strong, healthy, mutually loving relationships with people who have your back.
Own Your Choices
Since I starting working for myself just a few months after I became a new mum, there was never time to think, “I’m just not feeling it.” I had to take care of my daughter and I had to deliver what I promised for my clients. It’s not always easy but I am contributing to the life my husband and I want to live so I own that I am a sleep deprived working mother with no time to myself, and on the days where it seems even more impossible than usual, I remember why I’m doing it and who I’m doing it for.
Be Disciplined in Time Management
When you have a business and also have children, there is never really time to take things slow. Spending the first hour in the office trawling news sites or catching up on colleague’s weekend antics is a thing of the past – you will understand the notion that ‘you’re here to work’ more than ever before. Every Sunday night, I try to prioritise both my work and personal objectives. Mostly, that means continuing to work once my daughter is in bed and often, missing out on one on one time with my husband, but it means I stay accountable to the time limits I have set for myself and my clients
Check Your Emails at Set Times Only
Working makes me a better wife, a better mother and a better person. But I think it’s easy to ‘love what you do’ a little too much sometimes, especially when it’s your own business. It becomes second nature to take on more. However, as my daughter has grown, she has become more demanding of my time. While it’s been frustrating at times to lose hours previously dedicated to work, she has taught me it’s ok to say no. She has shown me that no matter what, the world will not end if I don’t respond to that email right this second.
I know I just said that you need to create a plan and stick to it, but having a small, dependent human changes that frequently. Missing appointments or meetings used to give me anxiety, but it’s now happened more times than I can count and each time, I have been met with nothing but compassion and understanding. I am now more understanding when others change plans because I know how often it occurs in my own day to day.
It is so important to me to be available for my daughter whenever she needs me—and that includes when she asks me to read ‘I Am Doodle Cat’ for the hundredth time in a row. Sure, it’s frustrating when I need to send just one email, but all she knows is what I show her and I don’t ever want her to look back and remember that I was too busy for her.
Choose Quality Over Quantity
I am lucky enough to work with a talented roster of clients who not only accept my way ofworking, but also understand it because they are all parents themselves. It wasn’t a conscious decision to do so, but it has been the core of effective and prosperous working relationships. Sunny has taught me that everything in life is about quality over quantity and that has been one of the most valuable lessons to date.
Take Fridays Off
There are times when my inbox is an endless sea of emails and I don’t know when I will have the time to start anything let alone finish it. No matter how much work there is to do, my daughter reminds me tomorrow is a brand new day. She has taught me when to say no, how to effectively prioritise and that telling your clients that you don’t work Fridays is totally OK.
Don’t Forget the Real MVP
My husband and I don’t have family here in Australia, which means we don’t have a lot of help. Our days, nights and everything in between are mostly spent tag-teaming both our parenting and general adulting responsibilities. I couldn’t do it without him. He keeps our household running, sane, safe and fun. Communication is key, and showing love and appreciation for one another not only makes the never-ending lists feel possible; it sets a loving and respectful example for our daughter.