Parents, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial parents… WHERE DID ALL THE TIME GO?

Let’s get to the bottom of this.

I’ll start by saying that I am VERY passionate about this topic because it relates to why being an entrepreneur is amazing in the first place.

Being an entrepreneur is awesome because we get to design our business and our life the way that we want.

So, if you want to spend more time with your kids, well, guess what? You get to design your business to be able to do that!

If you want to always have time for your business and family WITHOUT compromising, this is what you need to do:

To manage your time as an entrepreneurial parent, you need to create RULES and BOUNDARIES.

Rules and boundaries… sounds harsh, right? But there’s nothing harsh about a family and work life that you love.


Example #1:

I do some private coaching and I will NEVER schedule a client call after 3PM.

Why? Because my kids come home from school around 3:45.

If I have any calls scheduled after 3, which typically run for an hour, it means I’m finishing at 4. That cuts into the time that I share with my kids.

Mornings, evenings, and weekends are for my family. I need rules to protect those times. 

Establish cutoffs for work time.

Example #2:

On the flip side, there are boundaries that I openly communicate with the kids. Like, when Daddy’s working and that office door is closed, please don’t interrupt.

It’s hard sometimes. From time to time the boundaries will get blurred between family time and business time, but that’s not always a bad thing.

I can remember a time recently, I was recording a video and right in the middle my son walks in, and he’s like, “Daddy, daddy, can you come read a book with me?” And I said, “Hey, buddy. Yeah, daddy will be with you in one minute, okay? Just let me finish this and I’ll come right out and read that book.”

He went off and I finished the video, and that video was super popular because it really connected with others who saw that I was just a real dude with real kids and that interruptions happen. So as much as you put these boundaries in place, things are still going to happen.

Interruptions will happen.

What’s important is that you communicate these rules and boundaries ahead of time and re-state them often. This way, people will remember them and respect them. And that’s good news because this is really important!

Communicate your rules and boundaries!

Example #3:

Here’s another example. In my business, I travel quite often and I’ve created rules because I don’t want to be away from the kids or my wife for extended periods of time.

One of the rules I have is that I only travel where I’m away from my family once a month.

Sometimes there are situations where there are multiple opportunities to travel in a given month, and then I have a choice to make. I can either bring the family with me or I may have to say no.

In fact, that very situation happened recently. There’s a mastermind I belong to that I love attending. However, attending the most recent meeting would have kept me away from my kids for the better part of almost two weeks.

That would have broken my rule. It was a hard decision to say, “I’m not going to the mastermind.” But, at the same time, it was an easy decision because I was simply following the rule.

Establish travel limits.

Example #4:

Another rule is: if I’m travelling and I’m away from Amy and the kids for more than three days, as soon as I get back I clear my calendar and that day is just dedicated to being with them.

So for every three days I’m gone, I get a full day with the family.

Create space for your family and nothing else.

Conclusion:

These are the rules and boundaries that work for me.

Yours will depend on how your business is structured and what kind of balance you’re looking for.

As entrepreneurial parents, we have the gift of being able to work where we want, when we want.

Let’s use that gift to spend time with those who matter the most.


 

  • Great post Stu. Very relevant to me and something I’ve been struggling with for years. As I get better at creating the rules and sticking to them, everything is becoming less of a struggle. Thanks!

    • Thanks! And you’re right… once you have the rules and you stick with them, things do become easier. Not easy. But easier.

  • Awesome tips and advice Stu! My family is important to me too and spending more time with them was the reason I started my online business in the first place. I plan to use some of these tips you shared. Thanks!

    • Definitely keep me posted Jonathan! Would love to hear how you use/adapt them.

  • Shana Lynn Bresnahan

    Love the advice! My husband and I both work from home and have a teenager and toddler running around. Boundaries are so important to establish in all areas of life and are truly the only way we keep balance around here. The other thing I find to be helpful is discussing the week ahead with the family so if there’s anything outside of the norm, they know what to expect in advance and don’t get dissappointed in the moment.

    • Kids definitely love routine so we’ve found the same thing…. if things are going to change, communicate it with them.

  • I love this post Stu. I love to see fathers making their families a priority. The average dad in the US only spends 7.3 hours per week with his kids. So many people say that their children are a priority, but their actions and daily life don’t line up with their stated priorities. It reminds me of an article that was written on LinkedIn several years ago entitled “Is Your Kid Worth $100 Million?” It is an excellent article written by an entrepreneur and after asking a number of his friends, not one of them would be willing to sell one of their children for $100 million. Despite that fact many of them weren’t spending significant time with their children. In my opinion, quality time comes from quantity time. Relationships can only be built by spending time together. Let’s all make our children a top priority! Stu, thank you for being a great example of that.

    • Totally agree. Thanks for this. Now I’m off to go find and read that article 🙂

  • This is awesome, Stu! I totally relate. Sometimes I feel like I have to decide between disappointing my wife & daughters or disappointing other people who want my time. 9 times out of 10 I choose my family. Yet implementing some of these tips will help remove my guilt for choosing to spend time with my family instead of working or spending time with other people. After all, what we choose to spend our time on is what we value most.

    • What you’ll find is that the more you respect your time/boundaries, the more others will too.

  • Ian Serff

    Wonderful post Stu! I have been running my Graphic Design business out of our home for 17+ years along with homeschooling our 7 children. Creating space and boundaries are vital to developing a strong family/working environment to have life balance. A true blessing when its all working together and keeping the reason why we work from home — building close relationships as a family unit!

    • 7 kids??? Geez dude… I’m barely surviving with our two 😛

      My hats off to you sir.

      And I agree. The quality of the relationships we develop with our kids by being able to spend time (while actually being present) is so incredibly valuable.

      • Ian Serff

        I completely agree with you Stu and thank you! We are like you, with 5 of our kids that are adopted. Being flexible for family time and business has been key to keeping our family ecomonic strong.

        Thanks for all you are doing for us business owners. You have been such an inspiration to me and our business. May the Lord bless your efforts into the future!

  • Thanks for sharing how you’ve made it all work for you and your family Stu. It’s definitely one of the things that I’m looking for role models and advice on. 🙂

    I’ve got a few speaking gigs and business trips coming up over the next few months, and I’m trying to keep it to no more than once per month, too. It’s a little trickier right now for me, since I’m still nursing – but I imagine that as kids get older they miss you even more (and they can speak their minds about it, too!).

    • Here’s what I know to be true for you Nathalie… the number of opportunities are only going to continue to grow. Meaning, any tension you feel now, is only going to get worse the more opportunities come your way.

      So it’s SUPER healthy for you to be thinking about this now because as your kids get older, you’re right, it actually gets harder. They definitely miss you more, feel it more and there are more logistics to factor as well (particularly when they get into school).

      However, the number one thing that has helped me is establishing your own rules and boundaries. And once you’re clear on them, decisions (although never easy), become easier.

      You’re awesome!

  • Jeanna Gabellini

    Love this. I thought I was the only one who had to say no to events/travel when they all happen in one month. I love the rule about clearing the calendar for a day when you come home from travel. I’m usually the opposite…hustling buns to catch up on everything the day I come back. I think my fam would appreciate your practice much better. =)

    • The one trick is that if I am away, I extend my “trip” in terms of when I say I’ll be back in the office to the public by that day. That way, people don’t expect me to be available on that day I’m with my family.

      Shhhhhhh…. don’t tell anyone 😛

  • David Fielding

    Where were you when I needed you 30 years ago, Stu?!! I won’t make the same mistake with my second career!!

  • Richard Mills

    Thanks for the post Stu. I like your style.

    I have a severe imbalance at the moment trying to launch a new business. I guess life is waves of ups and downs, busy and quiet, pushing hard at times and taking it easy other times.

    I guess I say to my (nearly) wife Emily that I’m going super hard until my project is of the ground – and once it is we relax. Im pretty good at doing both actually. I have proven to myself that I can sit and do nothing.. and do that well.. for extended periods of time (an under-rated skill IMO) but when a job has to be done I’ll work 16-18 hours, day in day out to push it out.

    Emily constantly reminds me of the importance of balance. Lucky I have her!
    I now have a solid yoga and meditation practise weaved into my 15 hour days (i hardly sleep). But I can see the light.. the finish line .. which looks like a whole lot of relaxation 🙂

    Oh .. and I have an 11 year old.. who i have every fortnight… I switch off completely then which is super important.

  • Rivkah Krasnoff

    Excellent tips! Similar to what I tell my moms 🙂

  • Peter Schneider

    is that extra day you mention a ketchup day? great insights, thanks

  • Alex Strauss

    I have been an entrepreneur, working from home, since my 17 and 20-year-olds were an infant and a toddler. Though the early years were a little tricky – mainly because “balance” isn’t something a toddler can understand – I can see how much they have benefited from watching me and my businesses grow and make a real difference. They both have a highly creative, can-do attitude that I hope will serve them well in an uncertain economy.

  • SpanishEducational Solutions

    I homeschool so my kids are always with me. However, some of your advice stills applies to me.
    No answering to e-mails, phone, text after 1:30.

    I do not travel a lot, but I expect that to change by next year. I am hoping to include my family on my traveling.

    How do you handling traveling with your family and working at the same time.

  • Rick Bergh

    Great post. It takes a lot of discipline but worth it for sure. I have 4 kids, all older but it was a balancing act for awhile between work and family. I didn’t succeed all the time, but tried my best. I always asked my kids to ask me how I was doing spending time with them or if I was working too much. Kids are always honest and usually right. So I tried to listen to them. I guess I was asking my kids to keep my accountable as their father.

  • Mathew Peachment

    Thanks Stu! It’s always good to hear about these things because it can make us question what we are currently doing…at least it does for me. I know as I get busier I want to be able to have the boundaries in place (and actually follow through with them) to live the life I want and spend time with my family.

  • Scott Anthony

    Brilliant Stu.
    Wealth and satisfaction comes from the relationships we have and the strength, power and love of a family.
    Congrats for being an excellent example of how family should always be top priority over work and how as adults it is up to us to teach the next generation and the one we live in –
    how to find the balance.
    Being a dad… Best gift in the world 🙂

    Love this! Bravo champ!

  • Tracey Pattison

    AMAZING Stu – this just reinforces I am on the right path… I have even managed to master the art of ensuring our extended family respect my boundaries too…[especially MUM ;-)]..for instance I refuse to ever answer a call from extended family between the hours of 5-8pm (as its dinner, bath, bedtime routine with our two preschoolers) and for MONTHS they would still call, and every time I returned the call the next day I would simply reiterate the boundary. Its only been in the last month that the change has occurred and they no longer call between those times…. and it is blissful now!

  • Christina Gualazzi

    Great article! Thanks for sharing how it works in your family!

  • David Orenstein

    WOW!!! Great post thank you sooo much. So many great ideas.
    How about a post about how you remain motivated in down times which I find very difficult being self employed?? or how you keep focused during work times without being distracted???

  • I Love this. I get asked this “family / work / life balance” question often, this article is perfect. I also love Stu! You’re the man! ALL Heart!

  • Sarah Noked

    Awesome post! I love this! It is all about creating boundaries <3

  • Mary B

    Great, sage advice Stu…boundaries give us breathing room and help create healthy relationships. A gracious No makes for a better Yes!

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