Long Hours in Business and Children – Making It Work for Everyone!
Long hours and children are always a challenge. They need our time, insight, guidance, and love to handle the work of being a kid. Like all relationships (family, friends, co-workers, partners, affiliates, clients, etc.), to ensure a stable understanding we have to find time to invest in them. I think you get this concept as you know the value of investing time in an event to make it perfect for the attendees and you want to ensure you don’t trade that for important time with your kids. Here are three things I believe can help you.
1. You cannot do it alone
If you find you are putting in 17 hours on the day before a conference, that might be OK, but if you are putting in 17 hours a day for weeks before a conference then I would start looking at your support systems. There are many ways to offload work. My 3 favourite are automate, create better systems, and hire someone (or barter services). Let’s just look at hiring.
What are you holding on to that someone else could do quicker, may love to do the work, and may be better at? I have found that people that say they ‘have to’ work for 17 hours are often too afraid to let go of the work because they feel it will not get done properly. This is an issue of systems. Let’s assume you have great systems, so if you say you cannot afford to hire someone then you may not have spent enough time thinking about how you can engage people to help you do the work. Giving someone free access to the conference to take away a few of your tasks is one way that will not require an employee contract. Learn to trade, barter, and delegate are important skills in a manager.
Have other family commit to time with your kids and schedule time to drop in for dinner while your kids are with family. This will help them feel you are committed and love them, even when you are busy.
Hiring a nanny to bring your kids with you to the worksite is a way many actors find time to be with their kids when they are on the road. I’ve brought a niece or the neighbours daughter to watch my kids when I had to be focused on other work.
Pay your kids to help you with your business. “If you help Mommy get her work done by playing by yourself while I finish this, I will pay you $X”. You can also give them a task to actually get them involved in the business. I remember as a kid collating printing for my girlfriend’s father. We loved being asked and he would pay us so we could go buy an ice cream and still have some money to take home. One of my Mentors pays her kids a percentage of her project profit if they help her get her work done. I hire my kids to shred papers, lick envelopes, wrap gifts, and fill bins.
Put your kids in daycare if they are not already. You cannot run a business from your home and give your kids the attention they need. Those are both full time positions.
2. You must have great communications
Great communications are important in all your relationship. Let your kids know what you are doing. Let them know exactly how much time you are going to put into it and for how long. Let them know when the event will be over. AND let them know what their reward will be for having to give up time with you. Give them the plan so they can keep track. My daughter loves to look at the calendar. When I am away speaking and traveling, I will call her before bed time and she will look at the calendar to see where I am and when I’m coming home. She will ask me about my day and I will keep answering until she has got enough information to feel she understands and feels included.
3. Stick to your promises
There will always be exceptions to this, but if that is happening often then obviously you are not making correct assumptions about how to manage your time and you need to stop promising. Call when you are going to be late but better yet, make your promises to your kids as important as your event responsibilities. If I am unsure if I can make it home in time for bedtime or dinner, etc. I let my kids know what I’m doing, why it will take as long as I think it will, what could cost me more time, then I promise a time that I know I will definitely be home, even if it is after they go to bed. Just knowing is better for kids then having no idea at all.
It will not be easy, but planning ahead, getting your kids on board with the plan and sticking to your promises will help you provide the best service possible for your clients and your kids. After all, you’re your kids are the reason you do what you do and you don’t want to treat them any less fair then you would a complete stranger you hope to call client!
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