We all like to think we can kill it at the office, then continue to be a rockstar when we come home to our families. However, the pressures of Australian society’s dominant work ethic and our relentless drive to succeed are often at odds with our desire to spend quality time with our children.
How can you juggle everything in a way that works not only for you, but also those around you? To help us learn to navigate this balancing act, we’ve enlisted Alli Price, single mum and founder of Motivating Mum, the mum-to-mum networking and mentorship company helping mums reach their business goals, to share with us how she’s managed to operate a successful business, with two daughters by her side.
“I am a very systemised person, so naturally, I implement routines for everything,” explains Price. When both kids and mum know what to expect in a given day, or even week, everything runs smoother and makes any potential hiccups or busy times seem manageable. It’s a team effort. “When my girls get home from school, they have to empty their bags and change out of their school clothes. Homework comes before TV. Every Sunday, they spend an hour with me telling them what to tidy, clean, and put away,” says Price.
"You can run a business that earns enough to take the family on holidays every year; you don’t need to kill yourself to earn success and money just because society says you have to."
Whether it’s 30 minutes or three hours, it’s the quality of time spent with your kids that matter. Be present and fully engaged with your children—they’ll get more out of it, and so will you!
“Family time naturally falls into our weekly routine; we have reading every night and will usually do something together on the weekends,” says Price. “We love to do active things like roller disco, bike riding, and indoor rock climbing, and it’s harder to do those things with a phone in hand!”
There will be times you’ll have to choose between your job and attending your child’s afternoon concert, staying home with a sick little one, or taking a child to an appointment. This means overtime or taking work home occasionally. It’s important to remain flexible, even during the busy times you’re not ‘at home’ as much as you’d like to be.
“I’m fortunate to work from home and can be flexible for my gals. I can take time off to do school reading or watch them on a sports day, but it also means I catch up on work on the weekends, if need be, too,” says Price. There is always going to be some sort of give and take.
“I don’t kid myself that a work-life balance exists; I call it work-life ebb and flow,” explains Price. “Simply calling it something else allows me to understand I don’t need to be achieving balance in all areas of my life at all times—sometimes it’s family-heavy and other times it’s work-heavy. I know it will even out over time.”
Back in 2006, when Price launched Motivating Mum, she was a new mum herself, so learning to adapt and blend things has always been Price’s reality: “Working with mums has been easier for me, as I can have a baby attached to me and run an event at the same time, and no one bats an eyelid. Find out what makes you happy.” Price adds, “That said, two pillows’ height is perfect to breastfeed while tapping away at the computer!”
As with any relationship, communication is key. Whether you’re explaining to your children why you aren’t at home or you’re sharing with your employer your family’s needs, an open and honest dialogue is vital.
“I make a point of letting my daughters know, when I treat them, that the reason we can do it is because they have been so understanding of me working and let me get on with it,” says Price.
It’s important to keep long-term career and family goals in focus, too. “I also refuse to beat myself up when I do have to choose work,” says Price. “If I feel guilt welling up, I tell myself I am doing the absolute best I can do for my kids, that I am an amazing role model, and that I didn’t die when my parents didn’t always pay attention to me when I was growing up and my kids won’t either.”
Remember, you don’t need to buy into what society says. “You can run a business that earns enough to take the family on holidays every year; you don’t need to kill yourself to earn success and money just because society says you have to,” says Price. “You can have it all, but work out what ‘it all’ means to you.”