School has been out for my three kiddos since mid-May. It usually takes me at least a month to get into the swing of a different schedule, or lack thereof is more like it. Case-in-point, last week life got a little cray-cray, and I didn’t get a blog post written. My sleep became more important with several later nights in a row. Such is life some weeks. I’ve also taken a bit of a sabbatical from Instagram. Sometimes, adults need a little time-out from screen time, too. Am I right?
Over the years of entrepreneurship and motherhood, I’ve learned that some days; actually, no – more like most days, will not go as planned. Generally speaking, I’m a flexible & adaptable person; however, during the school break months, I need not only to be more flexible & adaptable but also more realistic. Despite my kids being in the 9-13 age range, they’re still kids and still need me as their parent.
Here are a 12 Lessons I’ve learned throughout the years of being both self-employed, working outside the home, and both at the same time – while raising a family.
- Kids are capable of much more than we give them the opportunity to prove they are.
- Kiddos having chores is a win-win. My kids have had a chore list since the time they were 5, and it’s progressed as they’ve aged – and they don’t get paid for doing them. I could probably write a book just on this topic, or, at the very least, a blog post devoted to it. There are different philosophies on this, but mine is that we all contribute to the mess. Therefore, we all have a hand in cleaning it up. When they learn about money and want things, that’s when they’ll find the motivation themselves to earn it – and find creative ways to do it, too. Not only that, I have seen that my kids are more likely to pitch in and help a stranger, without being asked, because they genuinely expect nothing in return. Perhaps this could be the cure for the entitlement some youth seem to have today? They do a little something so then expect something (pay) for doing it. We do pay our kids when it’s something above and beyond their chores. But grades, daily/weekly chores and all that? Heck no! Neither my husband nor myself were paid to pitch in and help, and I think we turned out pretty darn good as far as work ethic goes.
- Having the help of your kids frees you to do those things that don’t often get done or typically have time to do. For me, it’s cleaning out closets, organizing areas of the home, and you guessed it – working, writing, and even better – me time. Starting No. 2 early on has been, I believe, the best parenting move I’ve ever made. It took a few years of tweaking but turns out, having No. 2 be non-negotiable, as in, it is what it is & like it or not you’re doing it, has been the best gift I’ve given myself as a parent today and for years to come. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. I rarely do dishes, they clean their rooms and bathrooms, they put away their laundry, and I don’t have to mow unless I want to.
- Rising early before the rest of the house is, for me, the best way to start my day. It’s quiet, and it’s my time to meditate, journal, read, enjoy my coffee – anything I enjoy doing without interruption and background distraction.
- “Me time” is critical to a mother’s sanity. Get it, no matter what you have to do – find a way. Doing this pays in dividends, trust me. And dads are no exception – they need time for themselves and things they enjoy just as much.
- If self-employed, hire out the stuff that isn’t your “zone of genius.” I was bound and determined to learn Quickbooks, and I drove myself crazy in the process. Would it have been far more worth it to hire a bookkeeper, which, in turn, would also make me feel more accountable for my cash flow? Probably. More like that’s a yes. Some things are just not worthy of your time and aren’t what you should be doing. Freeing yourself of the things you think are “shoulds” of your business, gives you more time for the things that only YOU can bring to your business. Not self-employed but work outside the home? Get someone in to do the deep-cleaning once a month, create a monthly mom’s club where you get together and prepare freezer meals, or pay someone to do yard/housework if your kids aren’t yet old enough to pitch in this way. This only frees up more time to spend with your kids/family – what’s that worth to you?
- We were not born with capes. You don’t have to do it all. End of story.
- Let go of the need to control everything. And you know what, the sun will still rise tomorrow, and your kids will survive. How far are you willing to tax yourself and go into emotional debt to be the person who needs everything just so? Oh, I know you well because that used to be me – especially when my kids were little.
- Ask for help. “It takes a village to raise a family” is one of those phrases and concepts I think we’ve gotten farther and farther away from over time. Partner up with another parent or create a parent group to swap childcare if you’re both working from home or stay-at-home parents to give each other personal/work time.
- Flexibility and adaptability can be your best friend. This lifestyle is perfect for me, and if you’re reading this blog post, entrepreneurship likely fits into your life in some way, too. The typical 9-5 never appealed to me – as far back as I can remember. I have always enjoyed variety in my work schedule and to be able to create that myself was even better. However, if you’re the type that craves structure and thrives in knowing what each day will look like according to a schedule, you’d be surprised what flexibility and adaptability can bring to your life – spontaneity! Granted, I have to plan somewhat, but at the drop of a hat, I have the freedom to change things up, and that’s what I love about my life. Which, leads me to number 10.
- If there is something you don’t love about your life, you choose every day to accept it as it is. We can blame our circumstances all we want, but we all have free will, and we decide what we do with it every single day. Even not choosing that thing we tell ourselves we can’t have/do/be/achieve is a choice. Ya gotta own it to change it, my friend.
- Spouse time. You both need it. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be one of those couples that looks at each other after the last kid leaves the nest and asks “who are you?” As children grow, what this looks like will change. Be it a monthly night out when the kids are small or a weekly night out one they’re older; this is something we’ve always struggled to make time to do. But, the one thing that has helped is the kids have consistently had a set bedtime. It’s gotten later as they’ve gotten older, but even now it’s 9:15 for the oldest during the school year. The girls’ bedtime is 30 minutes earlier. There are perks to being older; this is one of them. During the summer months, it’s still 9:45 at the latest and we often send them to their rooms even at 9:00 (where they can be up) – to give us more alone time to talk. And, we always go to bed at the same time. We also take walks together several times a week during the summer, too. These may seem like little things, but they make up for the time we may not take for regular date nights. And, it keeps us connected on a daily basis, when it’s harder to be present for each other during the day.
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Have any nuggets of wisdom you’d love to share in the comments? I’d particularly love any advice for parenting teenagers! Bah!
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