If you're a parent, you know that raising a child is a full-time job, and being an entrepreneur is much more than a full-time job. Both are incredibly high-stress endeavours with irregular hours. Now imagine doing both at the same time. Who would want to do that?
Text: Laura Wintemute
Being your own boss is great, and the typical "Danish working week of Monday - Friday, 08:30-16:30" is now a thing of the past. But all of a sudden you have a whole new set of demands – balancing kids, family, and your business (sometimes all under the same roof). The standard 08:30-16:30 suddenly becomes 06:00-20:00 and even pushing into late evening and weekends!
When you work, you work. When you're the parent, be the parent.
When I started my company here in Denmark back in 2017, my daughter had just turned seven years old. Wonderful age but still very dependent on us, her parents. We needed to pick her up and drop her off from school and after school activities. Plus all the obligations like parent-teacher meetings at the school and social gatherings make parenthood very time-consuming. In the beginning, I found it a little difficult scheduling around my daughters riding lessons, swimming lessons and playdates. Juggling schedules with my husband to see who could pick up was a daily discussion.
Being self-employed typically means we never "really" take time off. At least I didn't believe I could in the beginning, but now I do. It was so important to me to still be there for my daughter, whenever she needed me, not just physically but mentally as well. During our summer holidays this year, we spent time up at a family summer house up in Northern Jutland. No internet, no cable. It was bliss. We played games, we went for walks and bike rides. We even went horseback riding. I completely shut off - until I found Wi-Fi. My Danish husband is continually reminding me to set my out of office reply and telling me that nothing is so crucial that it can't wait until we return. No Dane would expect a response late in the evening, especially when they know you are on vacation, and you don't find too many Danes checking work emails when on vacation. That's why they are world-renowned for work-life balance. After being self-employed for over three years, I can proudly say I have created my own work-life balance.
"It was so important to me to still be there for my daughter, whenever she needed me, not just physically but mentally as well."
Here are some of the things I do in order to reach my own work-life balance as an entrepreneur.
Delegate tasks when possible
Turn emails off when you are off
Never reply to emails after hours
Don't be afraid to say no
Work-life balance is critical for entrepreneurs. Why? Because being an entrepreneur is hard work. If your life is out of balance, you won't be able to excel in any area. I know I personally have a hard time just shutting off. I find myself checking emails and SoMe more and more often, sometimes hiding in the bathroom or in bed just before falling asleep. We must find a way to integrate the things that are important to us, like family time, while still growing our business.
We all need to learn to shut off. Don't let being a parent stop you from taking the chance of becoming or staying self-employed, but don't let your business take away from what really matters in your life, having that crucial time with your family.