Tips for Working Parents Feeling School Holiday Pressures
Top tips for parentpreneurs
Working parents feeling the pressure these school holidays
Juggling running a business and a family can put parents under a lot of pressure, especially during the school holidays, but there are ways to make life easier.
While the kids enjoy a well-deserved break, many parents find it difficult to timetable children into busy work schedules – and this is particularly true for parents who operate their own small to medium sized businesses.
Leading accounting software provider MYOB says school holidays can be a high-pressure period for “parentpreneurs”, but there are ways to maintain a balanced family-work lifestyle this busy winter season.
MYOB General Manager and mother of two, Carolyn Luey says being a parent who works full time motivates you to be better organised at the office and at home.
“Let’s not sugar coat it – I know first-hand that juggling young children and a full-time career is hard. But, it is also extremely rewarding.
“And I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with wanting the best of both worlds.”
She says “parentpreneurs”, or, business owners with children, tend to have a different opinion of what success looks like.
“Business operators who are parents not only strive for the financial freedom that comes with a good income, but they want the ability and flexibility to spend time with their families.”
MYOB’s latest Business Monitor Survey of 1,013 SME operators across New Zealand reveals 36 per define business success as the “flexibility to do what they want", such as spending time with family, travelling or pursuing other activities. In contrast, only 11 per cent define business success as making a good profit.
MYOB also asked kiwi SMEs how many hours they work a week, and the data shows while majority (43 per cent) work between 30 and 50 hours, a third (32 per cent) work less than 30. Of that third, 9 per cent work less than 10 hours.
Emily Richards, also a mother of two, and Director of Dunedin based recruitment agency Human Connections Group, say while challenging, being a parent and running a business go hand in hand if you have the right mindset.
“It is all about understanding the needs of your children and the needs of your business, and then being able to prioritise your time effectively.”
“And there’s not much time to slack off or do a bad job. I have two little people who rely on me to earn the money needed to give them a good life.” Richards says.
Richard says these school holidays have not been as painful as she was expecting because at Human Connections Group they run a ‘very child friendly’ office.
“The flexibility of running your own business means you can work around your kids, and as mothers, Victoria and I totally understand the pains associated with having children and working full-time.
“In fact, next week my six-year-old daughter will come into the office and I will try to juggle her with my work load. That being said, we have games, puzzles and all sorts of things for her to do.”
She says she feels sorry for parents whose workplaces and bosses are inflexible because it can make life very difficult.
“In previous roles that I’ve had, and with managers who didn’t have children, there was a lack of understanding for the responsibilities that come with being a parent, and the impact school holidays can have on one’s work life.”
The recruitment expert says she has seen parent job hunters place more worth on flexible working hours than on high paying salaries.
“For parents, flexibility is worth more than money any day of the week. And the discretionary effort parent employees give back to managers for that type of understanding is worth a lot of money.”
Richards warns other parentpreneurs not to get caught in a busy schedule, because eventually the energy runs out.
“We need to be careful not to adopt the ‘running parent syndrome’, where we put all the responsibility of raising our children and all the responsibility of running a business onto one plate – because it never stops.
“You can find yourself going on like that forever, and you are never able to switch off and give yourself a break.
“It’s also really important to remember that it’s not the end of the world if you miss an important meeting because of your child.
“Never be embarrassed that you’re a busy parent. You’re not making up excuses, you’re asking for understanding and empathy – and a majority of people are decent enough to give you that.”
MYOB’S TOP TIPS
Ms Luey says there are five key ways for parentpreneurs to maintain a work-life balance, and to ensure for a smooth school holiday period.
1. Accept that not everything will be perfect, and acknowledge that things will not always go to plan.
“As parents, we need to avoid the guilt that comes with dropping everything for our jobs, and equally, the pressure we feel when we drop work for our children.” she says.
2. Be prepared and organised – it will save you time and money.
“Having kids and a career requires you to organise both yourself and your children.
“Have a shared family calendar online or on-the-wall and include details like work meetings, when you’ll be travelling for work, your kids play dates, birthday parties, parent-teacher interviews etcetera.
“Another way to stay ahead is to prepare as much as you can in advance. Meals and clothes can be made ready beforehand so you’re not rushing at peak times.”
3. Leave work at work.
“As hard as it can be, try to leave work at work. And if you have to work at home, do it in a space that is designated to work – like the study or a room that you can close the door on when you’re done.
“Communication is key. Always be in communication with your partner, your parents, or your friends – whoever it is that you know you can rely on to help you. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
“Also, if you’re someone who doesn’t work for themselves, don’t be afraid to have an open discussion with your boss about flexible working hours – there is never any shame in asking.”
5. Utilise the internet and the benefits that come with modern technology.
“The internet allows us to do just about anything from anywhere. If you’re able to do your grocery shopping online, order them on supplier websites to save time.
“Pay bills and organise your finances with online accounting tools. MYOB has worked alongside Kiwi businesses for more than 25 years and the best feedback we get is from parents who use us to save time at work, which they can spend with their kids.”
MYOB (ASX: MYO) is a leading cloud based business management solutions provider. It makes business life easier for approximately 1.2 million businesses across Australia and New Zealand by simplifying accounting, payroll, tax, practice management, CRM, websites, job costing, inventory and more. MYOB provides ongoing support via many client service channels including a network of over 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers and other consultants. It is committed to ongoing innovation, particularly in cloud computing solutions, and in 2015 was awarded the BRW award for the most innovative large company for 500+ employees and placed 2nd in BRW’s Most Innovative Companies Award list across all categories nationally. For more information, visit myob.co.nz or follow @MYOB on Twitter.