As working parents, it’s easy to feel like your life is entirely out of balance. You want to be there for your kid’s awards ceremony at 10 am, but you also have a multi-team conference call with a potential client at 10 am that you have to attend. Why does it always seem to happen this way? Either way, you’re missing something important to you. You can’t make it to both. Do you disappoint your child who worked so hard to earn that reward, or do you upset your boss and risk your livelihood to be there for your child? Neither option is good. There’s no way to move the meeting with 20 people to a different time, so you end up hurting your child by not being there or hoping desperately their other parent or grandparent or someone can be there for them. What you need is balance, and it’s so hard to find in the corporate world. Working for yourself brings balance to your life.
How working for yourself brings balance.
When you work for yourself, you control your schedule. You get to choose what you say yes to and when you say no. No one else is in charge. No one can schedule a mandatory meeting over your child’s awards ceremony if a client asks to meet during that ceremony, you can say, no. It’s OK to protect that time and be there for your child. Clients don’t need to know that you’re not available because you’re going to your child’s assembly unless you want to share that information with them. A simple, I’m sorry, but I’m booked at that time, would 2:00 pm work for you will suffice.
When you’re in control of your schedule, it’s much easier to be there for the important things in life. My son is in preschool and the school we moved last year, and to my surprise, the school here is closed for six weeks a year. Where we lived before, it closed for one week. We pay for extended care, which in our old school included spring & fall break periods, minor holidays, half days, etc. but our new school extended care is only before and after school. I went from needing to take off or find alternative care about ten days total to needing it for 42 days a year. If I were still in the corporate world, how would I juggle those six weeks without childcare with a four-year-old? Honestly, I don’t know. He’s not old enough to go to camps yet, and we have no family in the city we’re in now. We didn’t know anyone when we got here a year ago. What do I do? How do I balance it out? I schedule myself off for those six weeks. If there’s a half-day at school, mom works a half-day. If the school’s out on Thursday and Friday, mom takes those days off. I’m so thankful that I’m not in a corporate job right now and counting PTO. While I had good PTO, I was at 17 days when I left, that wouldn’t begin to cover my childcare needs here.
We’re on a break period now as I write this post, and he’s finally getting big enough that I can work with him home. I’m working at the kitchen island, and he’s watching Disney+. Is it ideal, no? But I’m able to get a few blog posts written this morning before we leave for our playdate. There’s the balance. I get up earlier during break periods or stay up late if I need to get something done.
When you work for yourself, you can move things around as necessary. If you have kids home for the break, you can work early in the morning, on the weekend, at night, etc. I’ve started taking note of the kid activities that have wifi and workspaces for parents, so I know where to take him when he’s a bit older too. ;)
Maybe you’re not balancing young kids and a career; perhaps it’s an aging parent who needs help, or maybe you’re just tired of trying to cram all of your errands into the weekend or taking PTO to go to the doctor and want more flexibility. Whatever your reason, you can have much more balance in your life when you work for yourself.
I hate going to the grocery store, Target, and Costco on the weekends due to the crowds. I don’t like standing in long lines (yep, I’m an impatient gal sometimes) and fighting for parking spaces. When I was in the corporate world, I’d often stop and run those errands on my way home from work. Now I can run in whenever I have a quiet period. I tend to order groceries online and pick them up on my way home from dropping the little one off at preschool. If I’m going to Costco, I prefer to go mid-day when it’s usually quieter than on the weekends. How can I do that and still get my work done? Well, sometimes I log in at 5:00 am and work for a few hours before taking the kiddo to school if things are busy. If it’s a quiet week or day, I go.
Have you ever had one of those days where you had nothing to do at work but had to be there until 5:00 because that’s what is expected of you? We all have. The difference is that when you work for yourself, you don’t have to sit at your desk until 5:00. You can end your day when you’re done with your work and switch modes, run errands, workout, pick the kids up early, go for a pedicure, whatever you desire, and nothing is stopping you.
The next time you’re stuck in the office waiting for 5:00, faced with missing something important to you, or dreading your commute because it’s going to make you late for work or home life, and wondering if there a better way, remember there is a better way. Working for yourself brings a sense of balance to your life that makes it all a lot easier.