Balancing work and family life when you're the boss

As a self-employed developer and consultant, I continually seek to refine my business methodologies, toolkit, and skills. That passion for constant improvement extends to my relationship with my family. Maintaining a healthy balance between the work that I love and the family I treasure represents an exciting challenge that requires regular evaluation and review. I vigorously protect my family time with strict limits on my work hours and try to give my full attention to the family when away from work.

Making hay…

If you have ever been self-employed, you know that there are seasons when you have to work above and beyond. As the saying goes, “Make hay while the sun is shining.” That’s especially true for me right now as I look to work ahead so that I can take some time off for the imminent birth of our third little girl and respect several deadlines set with my clients.

So now that I’m working most evenings and getting less sleep, the question that I wrestle with is, “How do I keep my family energized while I get through this challenging season?” I have found one couple critical discipline that has helped immensely:

Daddy-daughter dates!

I find that getting special time with my girls (who are 2 yrs and 3 1/2 yrs old) makes all the difference to them. A little time where Dad gives them his undivided attention goes a long way. As a favor to my wife to let her sleep in, I started a “daddy-daughter date” tradition. Little did I know that this would become one of the highlights of my week.

Every Saturday, my girls know that when they wake up, they’ll be going out with Dad. I get them dressed as quietly as possible and we sneak out of the house (pleased to know that my wife is getting some much needed sleep). We pick somewhere for breakfast. Most of the time, I go with something like Panera. Sometimes we do Bob Evans or the girls will convince me to do McD or Burger King (they love the play land).

Afterwards, we find somewhere to go together. Their favorite is one of the parks or jungle gyms, although even a trip through target works great. We usually return home around 10 or 11a to find Mom refreshed and excited to hand out as a family. She feels appreciated and supported and I can really relate to how much work it is for her to have them all week long while I’m away at work.!

There are so many benefits that I could hardly name them all, but here’s a few:

  • Dedicated time with your kids is incredibly important
  • You get extra practice dressing them and handling any surprises, making you a bigger help later when your spouse needs a hand
  • Your kids will learn (very fast) how to behave appropriately in public
  • Seeing you do something kind for your spouse is good for your kids
  • You will enjoy the time to talk with them and appreciate their company

Published October 12, 2009

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