As a business owner and a parent of young children, I’m no stranger to the daunting feeling of never quite tackling that long list of seemingly urgent tasks.
Juggling full-time work or your own business while raising a family is no easy feat. We can find it nearly impossible to slow down and end up sacrificing hours of necessary downtime due to our never-ending to-do list.
However, if we keep up this robot-like pattern for long enough, we can face long-term effects of stress, which could lead to more serious physical and mental burnout. What goes without saying is that this will inevitably hinder your ability to function at your full potential, both as a parent and as a business leader.
So, although we may not be able to live a life that is entirely stress-free, it is utterly crucial that we acknowledge when these stresses become all-too overwhelming and take the steps towards releasing some of that tension.
My top tips?
Start by practicing self-care to allow yourself to recharge, mentally.
Of course, for business leaders, this isn’t always easy or doesn’t feel attainable, but make sure you don’t pack your social, family and business calendars to 100%. That’s a recipe for burnout. Schedule in time to wind down with your family and decompress after work – saying no to plans is often difficult, but necessary.
Challenge yourself to think about what you can out-source, delegate or say ‘no’ to. For tasks that aren’t of priority or don’t require your expertise and could easily be done by others, saying ‘no’ could be the best approach. Consider enlisting your partner to pick up some of the life admin or care responsibilities? Can you send the children to a sitter one night a week? Welcome delegation outside of work and create some breathing space between appointments and plans.
Secondly, embrace your support networks.
Running a small business takes determination, time and energy. At times it can be isolating. Whether it’s a friendly shoulder to lean on, or an important business query you would like some feedback on, remember you are not alone.
Everyday I get to see the effects Mums & Co support network has on other business owners and that’s really inspiring. So often, business leaders feel alone in the challenges and triumphs, but by surrounding yourself with cheerleaders, champions and mentors, you remind yourself of the bigger picture, which leads me to…
Seek progress, not perfection
When everything feels overwhelming, remind yourself that you have started your company for a reason. Many business owners are perfectionists, which means they’re very hard on themselves.
Our Mums & Co Survey found that four in five business owners believe they’re a happier person as a result of launching their own business and 87% believe they’re setting a good example for their children. Reminding yourself of progress you made during the week and of why you started your company, your vision and congratulating yourself for the courage you showed to do that can really help when we inevitably have a down day.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is to keep a healthy lifestyle.
When running a business and raising a family, it’s not uncommon to fall into an unhealthy pattern of too much work, little sleep and relaxation, and minimal physical activity. However, how you treat your body in the busiest of times does play a role in your overall mental health and productivity.
I’ve improved prioritising my sleep schedule so I can make better decisions, be energised and stay creative, making a point to unplug and spend time with my family each evening. I’ve tried different relaxation techniques like meditation apps, reading, listening to music and spontaneously dancing with my kids. I’ve also found great value in fitting in some level of physical activity each day – something as simple as a 20-minute walk in the sun can go a long way!
Being a business owner and busy mum is certainly no easy feat, however, being kinder to myself and embracing those around me has helped me in the more difficult times.
I started a company with the intention of supporting other business owners and women – I am still blown away by the power of our network.
The lessons I’ve learned about mental wellbeing while running a mum’s network have been invaluable to my personal life and career.
- Carrie Kwan is co-founder & managing director of business network, Mums & Co