p_124There is no doubt about it, starting a business is a daunting thing – but starting a business when you have toddlers in hand in even more daunting.

The sheer idea of trying to break your time down into manageable chunks so that you can look after your little ones during the day and create a successful business is mind boggling for many – but without a doubt, Moms (and Dads) all over the world are doing it.

I’m fortunate now – my children are teenagers, but I remember the challenges we faced trying to run our businesses when they were little – balancing the need for some pretty long hours at times, with spending time with the kids and allowing time for ourselves.  Sometimes we weren’t so succesful about it, soemtimes we were.

There was also the challenge of having the kids ‘want’ attention when we were needed in the business — we had to learn to work together.

Here are some of the things we learned.

Get the kids involved
Children like to know what their parents are doing, and how this impacts on their lives.  Getting them involved in some of the easier tasks, showing them the work that we do and how that makes our family life better really helped.

As they got older, we gave them the opportunity to work in the business.  Any little task they did, would be paid at an agreed rate.  As we ran retail stores at this time, even the general close up tasks (mopping, sweeping, general tidying) were included.  This wasn’t ‘pocket money’ – this was earnings that they could then use as they would.  We found that this gave our children a level of independance.

Let them have their say
OK, so this can be a bit tricky.  We would sit down and plan out our week (as much as possible) – setting the rosters and such.  We would ask the kids to let us know what they wanted to do, so we could schedule that in too.

We also found encouraging them to tell us that they were ‘fed up’ with the business and how much of us it took very empowering.  That way, we knew where they were coming from and could work to alleviate some of the angst.

Learn that things don’t have to be perfect
There are only so many hours in the day – and you can’t do it all.  So we had to learn that as long as the dishes were done and away, the floors swept, bathroom clean etc, all was good and we could spend time with the kids and doing family stuff.

Finding like minded people
Networking with other business people, particularly those with children to share the challenges and discuss our challenges was also helpful.

It was interesting to hear similar strategies from Amanda Robins who recently launched Toddler Taming Entrepreneurs – a community to support business people, particularly Work at Home Moms and Dads in their business development.  Amanda’s passion is to save other mothers from making all the mistakes she made and teach them how to make the most of their time. Her advice is also to pick a business that helps other people in some way, it gives extra fulfillment and helps to keep you going.

I was honored to be interviewed by Amanda as one of her Toddler Taming Entrepreneurs last week – and share and discuss our strategies.   You can gain access to my interview (and a heap of other Toddler Taming Entrepreneurs interviews) by becoming a Gold Member of Toddler Taming Entrepreneurs.

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