As someone who juggles being a mama to two young girls with a part-time my own business, ongoing study and more, one of the most common questions I hear is “how do you do it all?”.  Here are 5 tips for parents who want to (or need to) balance a busy life of family and business.

1.  Do what you love

This is very cliché but that’s because it’s true.  If you can find a job or build a business around your passions and talents, it makes it so much easier to not only get through the day but achieve great things.  It can take a while to land your perfect job or build a feasible business around your dreams.  However if you have a clear idea of what this looks like you can be satisfied knowing you are heading in the right direction.  Then, even when your 1-year-old wakes you at 5am every day and you are NOT a morning person, you have ideas and energy bursting to get out even at that time if you love what you are doing.

2.  Build a great support network

I’m lucky to have a supportive and helpful husband and family and a growing network of inspiring friends.  None of them mind when my house is a mess…or are at least polite enough to not comment!  Through my own experiences, I specifically created Professional Parents to make it easier for anyone who is interested in meeting others in the same situation and building their own support network.  Bringing together like-minded people creates ideas and inspiration, not to mention much-needed support to keep you going when you’re having a bad day.  I’d have to also add my girl’s daycare centre in here, they go 3 days a week, love it, and the staff are fantastic.

3. Find tricks and tools that work for you

I LOVE Social Media, it is my superpower.  I’ve always enjoyed connecting with and communicating with people, which is the core of any success in my work.  Being able to use tools such as Facebook and blogs to build my business at times which fit around my family is just fantastic.  I’m also always asking other busy parents “how do you do it all?” and learning from this.  A great friend reminded me recently of a great tip for easy meals (check out the great Tilly&Otto – thanks Kavala!).  I’ve just loaded up my slowcooker at 7.30am, so dinner will be ready when I get home from work and that’s one less thing to worry about this evening.  Learning simple tricks and tools, trying them out and integrating those which work into your life will give you what will seem like superpowers.

4.  Understand your personality

I spent a long time listening to those who told me “you do too much”.  I turned down a lot of opportunities and toned down my personality to fit in with  what I thought was “normal”.  I ended up miserable, bored and most definitely not the best me I could be.  Though there is certainly wisdom in the advice I receive from family and friends, and I don’t aways get it right but have come to acknowledge that I am absolutely in my element when I’m juggling several things at once.  Understanding and utilising this essence of my personality inspires and motivates me.

5.  Routine

My beautiful daughters are 3 and 1, and when I first became a parent and read advice on how important it was to create routine, I must admit I scoffed just a little.  Me?  A free spirit tied down by what to do and when?  And convince my babies to do the same?  However I’ve done a total turnaround.  There is still room in our life for spontaneity and flexibility, however my girls know – and seem to love – that every single evening, that a bath comes right after dinner, they have dedicated mama time before bed, that we brush our teeth, read a story, and talk about our day together before they sleep.   I do believe having  little routines like this throughout our day means the girls – and I – know what to expect and life just runs that bit smoother.  Though every day doesn’t always turn out this way, and routines can change, having a basis like this makes our little family that much happier and stronger – and ready to deal with change when necessary.

So that’s certainly not all the answers about how to achieve the perfect work life balance but I hope it helps just a little.  Love to hear your tips and tricks and ideas on this topic!  Renee.

(Photo by Open Universities Australia of Isabella & I in June 2010)

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