Article by Petra Smith
Growing up, I spent a large part of my childhood with my grandma who always used to say: ‘Be careful what you wish for, because it will become true’. And she was right – I look at my family and business and often still can’t quite believe it.
Having started a business at seven months pregnant with my first daughter, my kids have always been part of it as I never knew anything different. There are good days and there are bad days, but at the end of each day there is a lot to be grateful for – mainly the fact that my work gives me flexibility to be there for my children and I am able to teach them that if you dream big and work hard, anything is possible. Managing a growing family and a business comes with many challenges and joys as kids bring a completely new perspective and help us see things differently. Here are a few of my tips on how to balance both:
Remembering the time when it all seemed impossible
As often as possible, I spend a few minutes in the morning to look back where I was five years ago and then I look at where I am today. Even though I might be tired or stressed about current work challenges, reminding myself that back then, I didn’t have a business, children or courage to do the things I’m doing today. Looking back to the time when all of this was just an unrealistic dream makes me proud of all the little steps I have taken to get where we are today – as a business and a family. It’s very easy to lose focus in a middle of everyday chaos, but this little exercise makes me remind myself that everything is possible and how great life is.
So, if you can, in a time frame that works for you – look back at a time when all of this seemed impossible and give yourself credit for how far you have come. Listing your achievements and seeing yourself from a distance will not only fill you with pride, but also give you inspiration for the future.
Leaving comfort zones behind
A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there. Challenging times call for leaving comfort zones behind, making us do things that we feared before or didn’t think we could do. But once we make the first step out of that comfort zone, we find ourselves surrounded by new opportunities and perspectives. As the saying goes, if you want to achieve something that you never have, you will need to start doing things you never did. The impact of the pandemic has been quick and significant on all of us – contracts were put on hold or even terminated as clients started to cut budgets and work life balance disappeared very quickly with two working parents and no childcare, and limited ability to leave the house. But necessity is the mother of all inventions and it’s those difficult moments where we keep finding inspiration and strength to try new things and face new challenges.
Taking a deep breath, like diving into a swimming pool when the water is just a little too cold and facing the uncomfortable tasks every day as a priority can make big difference. With limited time around childcare and home schooling, it might work better for some to start the day earlier, and plan when and how can they be best done – and then diving in.
Seeing things through our kids’ eyes
Looking at children to see how they approach challenges, can teach us so much. They don’t just give up when the going gets tough, instead they keep trying until they succeed. They don’t just stand up and start running, they learn to walk – step by step, until they become confident and steady on their feet. They are so enthusiastic about everything new, they take the leap without any hesitation. There is something fascinating about how they take risks and learn from them – both if they get hurt or if they love the experience. With the little experience, skills, and knowledge in this world, you never see kids worry about things. They laugh and enjoy the little moments of everyday life, without losing their sense of humour or worrying about what others will think or say.
If you can, take their perspective and see what they can teach us about balancing our work and life -because there is so much, we can see differently through their eyes.
Learning to accept
Motherhood taught me acceptance – accepting that my newborn won’t sleep or that we are in a middle of a pandemic that is turning our lives around. But it also made me better at accepting everything from setbacks through to challenges and turn these into opportunities rather than getting frustrated about things that I have no control over. Sometimes acknowledging that there are things that we can’t control can help us refocus on things that we can change, and whilst we focus on those, the uncontrollable aspects might have worked themselves out.
Because life will always find a way and things always fall into place, sometimes they just take a bit longer or will appear in a different shape or form.
About the author
Petra Smith is the Founder of Squirrels&Bears, a boutique marketing agency helping small businesses to look and grow bigger.
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