Family + Business: How I Make It Work (Transcript)
In today’s episode, I’m going to walk you through a few of my go-to tips and tricks on how to run a business while parenting (and homeschooling!) at the same time. And for those of you who aren’t parents—maybe you have a day job, maybe you’re in school, or maybe you have a side hustle—these tips apply to you, too!
This is a transcript of Work Less, Earn More, Episode 24. Listen to the episode here.
We became entrepreneurs because, more than anything, we want freedom. We want to be in control of our own schedule, income, and life. But unfortunately, that isn’t always the reality of being a business owner. I’m Gillian Perkins, and I’m on a mission to take back entrepreneurship for what it’s supposed to be. In every episode, I’ll share with you how to get the most out of every hour you work so that you can work less and earn more. Let’s get to it.
The number one one question I get asked isn’t a business question. Nope. It’s how do you do it all? And what people mean when they ask me this question is how do I run a business and be a parent at the same time? As you may know, if you follow me on social media, I have three little kids, and I also run a business that supports my family. And so I understand where people are coming from when they ask, “How do I do it all?” Of course, the real answer is I don’t. I don’t do it all by any stretch of the imagination. But I do have a few tips and tricks for how to run a business and to be a parent at the same time, and that’s what I’m going to be sharing with you in this episode.
Now, before we get into those tips and tricks themselves, I want to preface this by letting you know that if you are listening right now and you’re not a parent, this episode is still for you because the things that I’m going to be sharing today really apply to anyone who is running a business or has a side hustle and is trying to balance that with other things in their lives. Maybe you are running a business and you also have a second job. Maybe you have a partner that you’re trying to spend some time with. Maybe you’re going to school, or maybe you do have kids. Regardless of what you’re trying to balance, you’ll find these tips really helpful.
Let me just start out by telling you a little bit more about my current situation and exactly what I’m balancing. I own and run an online business that I run from my home office, and to just give you a little bit of context, this business currently is generating about $200,000 a year in profit, and we’re growing at a rate of about 50% per year. And honestly, I consider that second number to be a lot more impressive, especially considering the fact that I’m doing it with kids, because I could maintain the business that I have right now at its current profit levels without much difficulty, but to be actively growing the business month after month while trying to parent my kids is a bit of a challenge.
And as I mentioned, the business isn’t my only responsibility. I also have children, three little children, to be exact. Right now, they are six, three and one, and we have another baby on the way that’s going to be born. Well, when you’re listening to this, she probably will have just recently been born because I’m recording this ahead of time to make sure you can still be listening to the podcast, even while I’m taking a break for maternity leave. And then, aside from running the business and simply keeping the kids alive, I do also manage the household and I homeschool my kids. My oldest child right now is in first grade, and my middle child is doing pre-K, which means that school doesn’t take that much time, but it definitely takes an hour or two per day.
How do I do it all? How do I manage to run a business and be a parent to my little kids at the same time? Well, the first thing I want you to know is that something that’s a lot tougher than running a successful business with three little kids is running an unsuccessful business with one kid. That was my situation not all that long ago. About four or five years ago, I had just one baby, and I was working on building my business, but it hadn’t yet turned into a success. And those were some really tough days because before my business was successful, I had to be supporting myself somehow. And in my case, that meant I was taking on a lot of freelance clients. I didn’t have a day job, but I was running a local business and doing a lot of client work. And in addition to me working, my husband was as well. And what that meant was that we both had to spend a lot more time working just to pay the bills.
In addition to that, I was working on trying to build my business and turning it into a success. Even though I didn’t have three kids at that point in time, being a parent to just one was pretty difficult. But once I finally struggled through that startup phase and I started actually making money in my business, things got a lot easier because I was able to quit doing all that freelance work. My husband was able to quit his job, and we ended up having a lot more time, a lot more money, and a lot less stress. It was a change for the better.
Now, the reason I bring this up is because right now, if you are in that beginning stage and you look at where I am, running a bigger, more successful business, you might assume that what I’m doing is harder than what you’re doing, because my business is bigger, because I’m creating bigger results. But that simply isn’t the case. I’ve found that the more successful my business has become, the easier it has been for me to balance work and home life, for me to balance business and family. And so I just want to give you that perspective and help you understand that that’s the first way that I’m able to, quote, do it all and I’m probably doing a lot less than you think I am.
The other reason that I bring that up is because right now, if you are in that tough beginning stage, I want you to know that I get you, and I understand how tough it is because I have definitely been there. But if that is your situation right now, I also just want you to know that if you stay focused and if you keep pushing through these tough times right now, things can definitely get better in the future. Sometimes as we imagine those future levels of success, we think that they will surely be tougher. We think that we’ll have to work longer, harder hours to reach those bigger goals, but really, the opposite is true. Generally, the more successful we become, the easier things get. And not only that, but going through those challenges can really strengthen and improve us, which makes us that much more capable to face whatever challenges do arise.
A great example of this was grade school. Back in grade school, you were learning a lot of different things. And when you were first learning any of those skills, they seemed really difficult. When you were first learning how to read, for example, you were sounding out the words one letter at a time, and it felt like such a struggle. But the better you got at reading and the more advanced your reading level became, the easier reading got. You are reading more and more advanced materials, but it wasn’t getting harder and harder. In fact, it was getting easier.
I remember experiencing this with math. When I was in first or second grade, I was doing really simple math, doing addition, subtraction, things like that, and we were learning some new concepts. Specifically, I remember learning division and just thinking, “Wow, this is so hard. How will I possibly ever be able to do third grade math or fourth grade math?” And I pulled out an algebra textbook, and it just looked like a foreign language and I had no idea how I would ever be able to do that. I thought it would be so hard. But what I found was that the more advanced I got with my math skills and the higher I got in those math grades, the easier math became.
Now, I know that not everyone has that experience with math specifically because in order for this principle to apply, we have to be talking about something that we are actually getting better at, and that typically only happens if we enjoy it. And I know that not everyone enjoys math, but I really enjoyed math. I was just scared that it was going to be hard. And I’m betting that that’s how it is with you and your business. You love running your business, and there’s a reason that you want to build your business to be bigger and more successful, but you might feel a little scared that it’s going to get really hard in the future, and that could actually hold you back from growing your business to its true potential. I just want to encourage you and let you know that as you get better at this, as your business gets more successful, it can actually get easier.
All right, so with all that being said, let’s get into some specific practical tips for balancing business and kids. And like I said at the very beginning of this episode, these things are really going to be applicable regardless of what you’re trying to balance, whether you’re balancing business and kids or business and school or business and a second job. It really doesn’t matter. These things will help you.
The very first one is to avoid multitasking. It’s so, so tempting to try to parent your kids while you’re checking your email or just post something quick on Instagram while you’re feeding them breakfast. I get it because I have definitely been there, and when you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all of the work tasks that you need to do and also be there for your kids, then it’s really tempting to try to do both of them at once so that you can get more done.
But I’ve never found this to work really well. In fact, I’ve found that when I try to work and I’m distracted, I get about half as much done as I get done when I’m doing focused work. So I can get done in about three hours of focused work about what I could get done in about six hours of distracted work. And not only does that mean that I’m not using my time very efficiently, it also means that I’m having to work a lot more than I would otherwise. And now, at first you might say, “Well, it doesn’t matter if it takes me six hours to do these three hours of work, because I’m also managing to take care of my kids at the same time. Both these things need to get done, so it’s okay if the work takes a little bit longer.” But there are a few other problems you’re going to run into.
If you try to multitask, most likely you’re not going to do either thing as well as you would if you just focused on one of them. The content you create for your business won’t be as good. You’ll make more errors when you’re typing an email or when you’re scheduling an appointment. Whatever you’re doing with your work, you’re much more likely to make errors and to not produce the quality of content that you really need to produce in order for your business to be as successful as possible. And let’s not even talk about how poorly we all parent when we are distracted. When we really focus in on our kids, we can really be present with them. We can listen to them. We can interact with them. But when we’ve got one eye on the kid and one eye on our cell phone, we are not doing either of these things very well.
And finally, if you multitask, yes, you’ll get both things done, but you are going to be working twice as many hours as you need to be, which is much more likely to have you end up feeling burned out and overwhelmed and like you’re working all of the time, and I really don’t want that for you. So if at all possible, I would recommend that you focus on work for just a few hours a day, and the rest of the time, you really focus on your kids. Now, I know at first that might not seem possible because you might think, well, I don’t even have three hours a day to focus on my business. But don’t worry because I’ve got some more tips to help you out with that.
This episode is brought to you by Startup Society. If you run an online business or you’re thinking about starting one, then Startup Society is the place for you. It’s a boot camp training program for entrepreneurs, plus an incredibly supportive membership community. If you’re looking for a framework to make building an online business as simple and straightforward as possible, then that’s exactly what you’ll find inside Startup Society. Every month, we create a step-by-step action plan for our members to follow to create a specific result in their business so that they can keep moving forward and growing. Past action plans have helped our members write their websites, launch online courses, and hire their first employees. And when you become a member, not only will you get access to our future action plans, but you’ll also get access to our entire library of past action plans, including the ones that I just mentioned.
You’ll also get business coaching directly from me during our live monthly coaching sessions. During these sessions, you can ask any business questions that you have so that you can make sure that you get the answers you need in order to be able to keep moving forward and not get stuck. As a member, you’ll also be invited into our membership community where you can connect with other online entrepreneurs who are crushing it so that you can be inspired and make some lasting connections.
If you’re interested in becoming a member of Startup Society, then there’s no time like the present to make that happen. To sign up, just head to GillianPerkins.com/StartupSociety. Again, that’s GillianPerkins.com/StartupSociety. And as a listener of this podcast, I have a special offer for you. You can become a member of Startup Society for $10 off every single month. Just use code, EARNMORE when you are signing up. Again, that code is EARNMORE, all one word, and it will give you $10 off your monthly membership costs. If you want to turn your online business into a success as quickly and as strategically as possible, then I would love to work with you to make that happen.
And now, let’s get back to the episode.
Okay, that leads us on to tip number two, which is to work when your kids sleep. You’ve probably heard this one before. It’s pretty common advice. But how hard have you tried to really do this? Most of the time, kids sleep longer than adults sleep. Most adults sleep seven to eight hours a night. Some sleep a little bit more, but around that eight hour mark is pretty common. Kids, on the other hand, often sleep for 12 hours or more per day. That might not all happen at night. They might just sleep for just nine hours at night. But in that case, they’re probably taking a few naps.
Now, I know that this isn’t the case for every kid. Not every kid sleeps quite that much. I have some friends whose kids sleep more or less than mine. I have a friend whose child wakes up every morning at 6:00 AM on the dot, no matter what. But you know what? Her daughter still goes to bed at 7:00 PM, which means she is in bed for 11 hours a night, and then she takes an hour-long nap every afternoon. So that’s a total of 12 hours a day of sleeping, whereas, like I said, most adults only sleep for eight hours. You can really take advantage of that difference in the amount of sleep that your kids need from you. Your kids are sleeping 12 hours, and you’re sleeping eight. That’s a solid four hours when you’re awake and they’re not, and that can be just the time you need to manage to run your business and even grow it.
But, of course, managing to work while your kid’s asleep requires a little bit of planning and scheduling because otherwise you are going to find yourself tired and needing a break when your kids are sleeping, or you are just going to want to do all the chores that you’re behind on.
And that leads me right into my next tip, which is to schedule your day. When I say schedule your day, I mean make a plan for how you’re going to spend your time during your day. Write it down on your calendar or in your planner or in a journal and map it all out. What I don’t mean here is trying to cram extra things in. Don’t try to fit so much in that you drive yourself crazy. When you start out scheduling your day, especially, I just want you to write down the things that you would normally do and simply plan when you’re going to do them. If you normally take a nap yourself every day, put that on your schedule. If you want to spend an hour watching Netflix or two hours watching Netflix, okay, put that on your schedule. If you need to spend 30 minutes doing chores, or you need to spend two hours doing chores, either way is fine, but put that on your schedule.
Okay, how much are you realistically going to work? Are you working three hours a day or eight hours a day? This isn’t about judging how you spend your time, and it’s not about even trying to do more. It’s just about having an organized plan so that things can run smoothly and you do what you intend to do.
Next up is tip number four, which is to prioritize your tasks. Here is the truth. You’re not going to get everything done. None of us can actually do it all. And that means you’re going to leave a lot undone, which means you need to decide what things are the most important things for you to get done, because compared to the number of things you won’t get done, this list is going to be pretty short. Every single day, I start my workday with a task called planning today’s tasks. I sit down. I look at my to-do list in Asana, and I sort through everything on my plate. I organize it according to priority, so I make sure that I get the most important work done first. That way, if I run out of time later on and I’m not able to get to everything, at least I’ve done the things that matter most. And let’s be honest, that’s more days than not. And that’s even after I’ve been pretty intentional about what got on that to-do list in the first place.
As you’re deciding what work to do, make sure that on any given week or any given day, you are crystal clear about what tasks are actually going to have the biggest impact on your business and which ones are essential.
Okay, let’s move on to tip number five, which is to use media intentionally, and this goes for you and for the kids. With your kids, when I say use media intentionally, I mean media like TV, possibly social media if your kids are older, apps on phones and tablets. These things can be tools that you can use. Now, none of us want our kids to spend too much time staring at a screen, least of all me. I’ve noticed that the more screen time my kids get, the more shows and movies they watch, the more they play games on their tablet, the crankier they get, the whinier they get, the more they ask me to do those things. So I definitely always try to keep the amount of time they spend looking at screens at a minimum.
But with that being said, it can be a very powerful tool, especially if you need just a little bit more time than you get from working when they’re sleeping. So by simply working when your kids are sleeping, you’re probably going to be able to get in three to four hours of uninterrupted focused working time. But if you need, say, an hour or more per day, especially an hour more per day of silent time, maybe you’re recording podcast episodes or filming videos or you have client calls, sitting your kids down in front of a movie for a little while can be a lifesaver.
Now I still don’t think this is the healthiest thing to do, but first of all, I just wanted to be honest and let you know that this is something that I do in order to be able to get some of my content created. Sometimes I need silence and my kids are awake, so I sit them down in front of a movie. And I just want to be honest with you about that. But I also want to point out that even if this isn’t the healthiest option, what’s worse is you ending up trying to multitask all day long and not ever really being present for your kids. It would be way better for them to enjoy watching a movie for an hour and then have their mom or their dad back with them than to have their mom or dad distracted all day long and them feeling like their parent is just glued to their computer or their phone all the time and they can’t stop working. So that’s how you can use media intentionally with your kids.
But what about with yourself? Well, when I say use media intentionally yourself, I’m talking about the time you spend on social media. Most of us who are building online businesses are using social media as a tool to do so. But the thing about social media is it can be a huge time suck. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that for you to know that that is true. Any sort of social media can be a time suck, especially things like scrolling on Instagram or watching YouTube videos or scrolling on Facebook. Am I right?
In order for you to be as productive as possible and to manage to actually run your business if you have kids or some other distraction, you need to make sure that you’re really intentional about the amount of time you spend on social media so that that doesn’t eat up some of your valuable working hours. Two of my favorite ways to do this are, first of all, with the timer settings on your phone. Most phones these days have app timer settings where you can set limits for how long you’ll spend on any given app. I use these to make sure that I don’t spend more than an hour per day on Instagram or on YouTube and other social media.
That ensures that I have plenty of time to do my actual business activities so I can post on Instagram or I can answer YouTube comments or whatever else I need to do, plus a little bit of wiggle room so that I can scroll just a tiny bit, because I actually think that that’s important if you’re trying to build a brand with social media, that you are a little bit involved in the culture, you know what people are talking about, you’re interacting with people. Most platforms will reward those behaviors, so I allow a little bit of extra time, so I can do that, but I don’t want that to creep into my most important work that I really need to get done.
The other way I like to limit my social media and make sure it doesn’t creep into those more important tasks is by giving some structure to my workday, so not just having a plan for my day as to what time I’ll wake up and what chores I’ll do and when I’ll eat lunch and when I’ll be working and all those other things, but for my actual work day, I’ll map out a plan for what I’m going to do with each hour of my work time. By doing this, I can make sure that social media doesn’t creep in to the time that I have set aside for my highest priority tasks.
Okay, and here is my final tip for you. Take care of yourself. I know you’ve heard this one. I know that people have told you before that you need to prioritize self care, that when those oxygen masks drop, that there’s a reason you put the oxygen mask on yourself first. I’m not going to go over that analogy, but here’s what I am going to tell you. Sometimes when people tell you to take care of yourself, they mention things like massages or manicures. But if I’m honest, I never do those things. While those things are nice to have, I don’t really consider them essential. Now, for some people they might be. Those might be things that are really important to you. But here, I’m just talking about the basics. You need to make sure that you are getting enough sleep, that you are having the time to cook healthy meals for yourself, that you are drinking enough water and that you have a little bit of quiet time every day.
Because if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have the energy to run a business and to be a parent or to run a business and balance anything else. We all have the same number of hours in a day, and that’s not something you can control. What you can do, though, is make sure that you’re using that time as effectively as possible, and that you are really maximizing your productivity with each hour that you do have. And I don’t mean working like the Energizer Bunny, but I do mean having the energy to show up as your best self and do really good work. You’re going to accomplish a lot more and hit your goals a lot easier if you make sure that the quality of your work is high and that you are consistently getting your work done every day.
Make sure that you are taking care of yourself, especially in these most basic ways, sleep, healthy food, water and a little bit of quiet time for your mind and some exercise for your body, so that you make sure that you are really capable of being the person you need to be to do the work you want to do.
Those are my six tips for you for how to balance work and family, how to balance running a business and being a parent. Of all of those things, the one that probably makes the biggest difference for me, aside from just taking care of myself, is having a plan for each day. Every single evening, I’ll sit down and I’ll map out how I want the next day to go, what time I’m going to wake up, what I’m going to eat for breakfast, when I’m going to start working, when I’m going to fit in some exercise, all of those different things.
But even though this is the one that makes the biggest difference, I find it’s also the one that I probably most often flake out on and fail to do. And when that happens, I always kick myself because my day does not go nearly as well when I don’t have a plan for what I’m going to do and when I’m going to do it. I don’t get nearly as much done. I end up feeling overwhelmed and anxious and nothing flows smoothly.
So why is it that I so often don’t manage to follow that one simple practice? Well, here’s the reason. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have enough time to do all the things that I need to do, and so making a plan feels totally pointless. I would rather live in denial and imagine that somehow I’ll get all those things done than face the cold hard reality of the fact that I only have 24 hours in a day.
And that reminds me a lot of several years back when I didn’t have quite enough money to pay all the bills. I really avoided budgeting. I knew that I should do it, but it scared me. And so I made up all sorts of excuses about why I didn’t want to do it, why it just wouldn’t work for me, and even when I got started doing it, I never stuck to it for more than a month or two, because it was just too uncomfortable to face the fact that I didn’t have as much money as I needed to buy the things that I wanted. But as I’m sure you realize, living in denial doesn’t change the facts, and we can start shifting those facts and dealing with reality a lot better when we face reality.
I don’t know if that might be something that you struggle with the way I struggle with it, but I just know that sometimes I don’t make a plan, not because it’s too much work, not because I dislike making the plan, but because it’s uncomfortable because I don’t have as much time as I would like to have.
Here’s the truth. We’ve all got the same amount of time in a day. Me and you and Beyonce, as the saying goes. And we can make the best use of our time if we make a clear plan for how we’re going to put it to work, what we’re going to do with each hour that is available to us. So whatever you’re balancing right now, I hope that you walk away from this episode with a few practical tips for how you can accomplish more with less stress and with the time that you have. And if you do nothing else after listening to this, at least try creating a plan for how you’ll use your time, prioritize your tasks, and that you rest in the confidence that so long as you’re intentional about your work, the more successful your business becomes, the easier things can become for you.
That’s all for today’s episode. But before we wrap this up, I want to share a review from one of our listeners. This review was posted on Apple podcasts by LeeLee329. LeeLee wrote, “I was so excited when I got your email about this podcast. I’ve been wanting to start my own business, but I didn’t really know where to start, so this podcast has given me hope on how to start my business. Now I’m gaining confidence that I can start my own business. I’ll be sharing this with my friends.” Thank you so much, LeeLee, for writing this great review. That really helps us to get the word out about the podcast and help other people understand how it might be able to be helpful for them in starting their own businesses.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Work Less, Earn More. Now here’s what I want you to do next. Take a screenshot of the episode you’re listening to right now and share it out on your Instagram stories. And when you do that, make sure to tag me at @GillianZPerkins so that I can see that you’re listening. Sharing on stories is going to help more people find this podcast so that they can learn how to work less, earn more and take back their lives. And when you share, I want to add it to my stories so that you can get some exposure that way as well. And if you really love the show, head over to Apple Podcasts and leave it a review to give the show a boost. Every single week, I feature a review on a podcast and I would love to give you and your business a shout out. So if you leave a review, it will help the show, but it can also help your business as well.
Okay. Let’s wrap this up. I’m Gillian Perkins, and until next week, stay focused and take action.