Managing your career after children is a challenge for all working parents. For small business owners already juggling multiple roles and responsibilities, it can be even tougher. Your business may have been your first child, but starting a family is different kettle of fish. To help you manage the transition, we’ve put together our top tips for new parents.
Adjust your mindset
It might seem obvious, but you need to accept that things have changed. Regardless of what you choose to prioritise, you have new commitments and responsibilities that need to be factored in. Embrace your new world and it will be easier to find a balance that works for you.
Take time to set your priorities
Treat looking at your goals and setting your priorities like any project, assigning time and resource to find the best outcome. Ask yourself:
Have my career goals changed?
What are your business goals, both short and long term? How about your personal goals? How many hours do you need to work a week to achieve them? Having clearly defined goals can help you decide the rest of your plan.
What are my childcare options?
From nanny sharing to nurseries, there are a lots of options at varying prices. Compare location, cost and flexibility, figure out which is best suited to your needs.
Can the family help?
Being well, your family should be excited about the new arrival too! Grandparents or other family members might be able to chip in with babysitting. Even if it’s only one evening a month, it can give you a night off to relax or see friends, plus they get to spend regular time with the little’un.
Get creative with flexible working
Now you know what you want, there’s a good chance you might need more flexibility with your hours. You might need to leave work early to pick the kids up, but then do a couple hours more after they go to bed. Work with offices overseas? You could take calls at 5am and hang out with your kids before school.
Make a list of all your tasks and mark which ones have a set time and place, and which could be done remotely or at a different time. If you’re a coffee shop owner you can’t dial in to make an espresso, but once you’re closed for the day you could do the accounts and run payroll from home. Look for software tools that can make you more mobile, there’s an ever-growing range to suit all budgets.
If there’s a clash of commitments, you might need to delegate. It could be an opportunity to give someone a few new responsibilities, turning it into a positive by helping their career progression.
Consider a flexible working culture
Some employers are reluctant to grant flexible working for new parents as it “sets a precedent” for other employees. As a small business owner, it’s ultimately your decision, but flexible working can help keep valuable and experienced staff, motivate your employees and boost productivity.
It doesn’t have to open up a can of worms either. Look at things on a case-by-case basis, then be really specific about any changes to standard hours. It’s a two-way street, so where you can give them flexibility, they can pick up something else in return. Look for ways to make it a win-win for the business.
Kate Russell, managing director of Russell HR Consulting advises “communicate fully and honestly, and plan forward. If there is likely to be a flexible working request, this allows time to plan and implement a working plan and processes.” Employees have a right to ask for flexible working, so you should understand how to handle a request if it comes in.
Read more at www.gov.uk/flexible-working.
Get away as a family
Small business owners don’t like taking holidays. A recent report found that over half took five days holiday or less in 2016, with 21% taking no days off at all. With a young family to manage you may find the time away is good for everyone. Whether you go to Margate or Mauritius, holidays away give you something to look forward to, help you relax and create family memories that will last a lifetime.
Don’t wait to see if you have time one month, plan it now. Find a suitable time of year, organise cover and book it in. The only family holidays you’ll regret are the ones you don’t take.
Make time for yourself
Raising children and running a business will take a lot of energy, so you’ll need a way to get some back. It could be a round of golf, yoga, or an hour’s reading at the end of the day. Giving yourself some space will help you reduce stress and be more productive. Again don’t wait to see where you can fit this in, plan it into your diary, and be creative if you have to. Half an hour on the treadmill at lunch could energise you for the afternoon, or 20 minutes meditation could help you clear your mind before a busy shift.