How to Grow Your Business and Have Work-Life Balance

Summer is my favorite season hands-down. I love the long days, working outside on the deck, dining al fresco, hanging at the pool, escaping for a fabulous vacation. But … I cannot wait for school to start, and we’re barely into July.

As all working parents know, summer means crazy schedules and lots of juggling. Last week, it was a nonstop flurry of emails and texts among my friends and I to arrange carpooling to and from rock band camp, which ran from 10am to 3pm, except on July 4 when it started at 9am.

This week my son started camp down the street at his old preschool. My husband will drop him off at 8:30am. My daughter, meanwhile, will be attending the Extended School Year program provided by our county. She has to be at the bus stop by 7:37am. She’ll be dropped back off at home at 11:34am, and then I will feed her lunch and take her to the same camp my son attends. Then I will drive back to pick them both up at 4pm.

In between, I will cobble together my life: exercising, walking the dog, working a full day, scheduling meetings and calls around all the picking up and dropping off, running a household, carving out quiet time, making dinner, and spending time with my husband. In other words, doing everything.

Oh, and I am also trying to grow my business by bringing on new clients, taking on new projects, and finding subs who I can contract out work to. I mean, why not? I’m already crazy busy – why not be crazier busier? However, I don’t want to go insane – I rather like my sanity, as shaky as it is some days.

Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, and other high powered moms who make a ton of money and have full-time nannies try to tell us that we can do everything and have it all, and then working moms argue on the other side that no, you can’t. Something’s gotta give, and that’s true. But I still want to grow my business, and I want to have work-life balance.

Crazy as it sounds, I do have work-life balance now. Really! And I’ll be the first person to tell you that I am not Super Mom – or Super Woman. Nope, I’m Monika with a Plan. Here’s how I’m doing it:

I put myself first

I always come first – before my husband, before my kids, before the laundry or dishes, before work. I work out every morning for 30 minutes on a rail trail that runs alongside our house, year-round, rain or shine, heat or cold. No excuses – I just go. That 30 minutes of quiet time kick starts my day and keeps me sane.

I also make a point of eating really well, I have a glass of wine (or two) when I want, I dress nicely even if I’m not planning on leaving the house, I get my hair done every 8 weeks, I get a good 9 hours of sleep every night. If I look good and feel good, I am good.

I work fast

My work day typically starts around 8:30am and ends by 4:30pm. During those 8 hours, I work quickly. I have my to-do list for the day, and I start with the hardest things first. Once I get the most challenging project done, I suddenly have more brain space to focus on my other projects, probably because I am not worrying about a big, challenging project anymore.

I sub out work with confidence

Thankfully, I have subcontractors I can send work to. They are reliable and produce great work, so I know that when I offload stuff from my plate onto theirs, I’m going to get back a quality product when I need it. This is a life-saver.

I don’t feel guilty about anything

I don’t feel guilty about “only” working 8 hours a day. I don’t feel guilty about taking time for myself. I don’t feel guilty about ignoring work emails during the evenings and on weekends. I don’t feel guilty about sleeping 9 hours a night or sleeping in on the weekends. I need those boundaries, and I respect them.

I focus on quality over quantity when it comes to the kiddos

Even though there are days when I wonder if I can give my kids away to a good home, I love them to death. Because we don’t spend a ton of time together (thank you public school system and full-day camp), I try my best to make sure our time together is really high quality time. I try to pay attention to them and listen to what they’re saying. It’s not easy, and I’m not perfect, and there are plenty of fights, but I do my best and that’s all I can do. Also, in my house we focus on experiences more than things, and I think that helps. When we are all sharing an experience – like skiing and snowboarding together – we are creating some pretty incredible bonds that can’t be broken.

My husband comes before my kids and work

Work is not my life, and my kids do not define who I am as a person. My relationship with my husband precedes both my kids and my business, and I want it to stay strong, healthy, and super fun. One day when we’re both retired and our kids are grown with their own families, I don’t want either of us to look at the other person and think, “Who are you?”

I don’t sweat the small stuff

Not sweating the small stuff can be really hard for me. I want my house to look perfect at all times. I want my kids to put away their laundry immediately. I want my dog to not shed all over the damn house. At the end of the day, though, none of that matters. If my house is a little messy, and my kids are getting dressed out of their laundry baskets, and I have to sweep up dog hair twice a week, it’s OK. The world won’t come to an end.

I don’t care what others think

I have always been this way – I really do not care what other people think of me. I care what my family and friends think, because they are the people I love and respect. Their opinions matter. But I don’t have to have the nicest house in town, the most exotic vacations, and the biggest, most successful business. I have to be happy with what I have and who I am.

And so far, so good.

What do you do to achieve work-life balance? What’s tripping you up?

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