Is finding lost shoes a business skill? Maybe!
Imagine this, you are totally in control of every part of your day, you know where you are up to in your schedule and you feel like you can totally choose which clients you deal with and which ones you don’t and you don’t ever feel spread too thin. Your goals are all set, mapped out and on schedule, the money is rolling in, and you are able to assess every opportunity that comes along in detail and establish the relevance to your business and take the action necessary to expedite all situations. Thing are going along beautifully in fact, until…
“Muuuum, where are my shoes?”
“Uh oh, Trinket is on the wrong side of the fence and there is blood pouring down his leg that naughty pony”
(or if you are really lucky, both at the same time)
Oh!! Sorry to snap you back to reality Mums, Dads or property owners. Now if you aren’t a parent or a property owner, I still completely and utterly respect you (and at times, envy you), but perhaps you are also juggling something of your own you might be able to relate to here? Maybe not, in which case, good for you, spare a thought for those that are juggling one or both of two of the the biggest unpredictable time absorbers known to small equine business owners. This blog is dedicated to them.
The one thing we can’t schedule in is when our child needs us, parents will relate to this, they get gastro the moment you have something big planned, and you really can’t ethically offload gastro-child to anyone really (unless you are so unscrupulous to shove them out of the car quickly and claim to not realise they were vomiting every fifteen minutes prior to dropping them off), they can’t find their shoes when you are in a hurry to drop them to school so you can get to an appointment, and they sure as heck want to play Uno or fairy princesses with you the night you had planned to catch up on paperwork. And the washing, seriously, how many changes of clothes does a child need in one day?
There’s definitely a balance to be had. Daycare can come in handy in the earlier years, we never follow the ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ ideal that new mums are told, its ‘work when the baby sleeps’, the year they start kindy we think we wont lotto for those few hours a week we get free, and the year they start pre-primary we rejoice those 5 hours a day for 5 days in a row we can plan (unless they get gastro or an itchy head, I wont even type the n-i-t-s word because all parents know once you read the word or hear it, your head itches for hours. (Oh darn, even typing it with hyphens between the letters made me scratch my head…) As they get older we realise they can be useful, be it to unrug the horses, do filing for pocket money, help around the house, whatever, but the reality is, having kids (or just one as my case) can create quite the adventure for those that like to plan and control. Don’t get me wrong, I know you absolutely love and adore them but even supermums need a break from their kids sometimes!
Having your own property can bring the same kind of dramas, instead of gastro, it’s colic. The lost shoes principle remains whether its kids or horses, and Uno or fairy princesses is replaced with broken gate latches, electric fence units not working, the water pump dying and yet another ripped rug that you have to find a replacement for in the large bin of rugs you keep hidden from your significant other in case they add up how many dollars have been spent on rugs that rarely get worn and start to check the credit card statement more carefully …
Having both, well you have to be bat…. crazy! But you love your kids or your property, or both if you have both, so you make it work as best you can and sometimes that means you end up a little overwhelmed. I see a lot of mums in business that seem to think they are not as worthy as other business owners because they are also a mum. Um. No, you are just as worthy if you survive being in business and being a mum at the same time! Your high reaching goals may well take a little longer to reach, or get amended on the way, but that’s OK. And remember, this is not about digging at those that are not parents, in any way. And Dad’s if you are reading this, ‘mum’ means you too in the context of this blog.
So here’s a few tips for making it work as a mum, property owner, and small business owner. I am all three, actually four if you count the fact I run two small businesses!
Tip # 1.
Plan, plan, plan.
Flying by the seat of your pants might make for a fun ride, I know I sure love spontaneous unplanned stuff, but when you have multiple things to juggle, having a plan might be a less stressful way to go. Before you go to bed each night, have a plan of your next day, and if you are a list writer, make a list of what you need to get done and where you need to be at what time. Between client appointments, the farrier, footy training, dancing, band practice and then actually making dinner at some point, you probably have a lot on that you simply can’t just ‘not do’. It’s OK, and don’t compare yourself with someone who is in full time 8 – 5 business with not too much more to do than run that business, there is no question they will get more done in their day on their business that you will. Plan your month ahead, keep a calendar handy for everyone in the household to see and contribute to, and try to balance work with life so that you get to do both!
Tip # 2
Give yourself a break if you don’t get it all done.
Not successfully doing everything you wanted to do in your day is not failure, especially if it involves taking a day off in school holidays to go rollerskating and to the movies with the kids, or spending a day fencing the arena so the horses stop getting in there and messing up your nice flat sand. What you can’t change is the past, what you didn’t get done, so don’t spend any time lamenting on how you failed, instead, consider what you did achieve and then list what is absolutely essential to get done the next day. Thinking outside the box can sometimes help you get things done, friends are often more willing to come and lend a hand doing things than you might imagine if you just ask for help. If you need help catching up with things in the business from time to time, ask around, sometimes people will be happy to give you some time and you might have something you can offer them in return, needing help doesn’t always mean outlaying loads of money to pay someone to help you (though, another blog I will delve into the world of offshore help and VA’s as that can be an inexpensive way to get long term help sometimes). At the end of the day, no-one is going to present you with a medal of honour for achieving a certain dollar value of sales in your business, nor for handling a certain amount of clients or orders. You are your most harsh critic, so back off, give yourself some credit for handling things as well as you have done so far.
Tip # 3
Do the important things first.
This is basic time management 101 but it’s easy to forget. I bet as a parent you already know that wearing odd socks is perfectly acceptable with closed shoes and long pants, and that size and colour coding all you pantry containers is just a luxury only tupperware consultants and non working mums have, and for goodness sakes, the floor does not need to be mopped twice a day (I am generalising here, you get the idea!). We each have our own ‘things’ we need to be right, and others that we can let slide in order to survive, so remind yourself of what is important to you in your life, and make sure that gets done first and don’t tangle yourself up in things that still wont matter after the kids have grown up or you are too old and wrinkly the ride that horse out in the paddock that is doing nothing right now because you are too busy.
Tip # 4
Be present for your kids.
After all, the chances are, you started this business with a passion for what you do and the desire to juggle having some kind of work and a child or five at the same time. Then sending them out of your work area and never giving them the five minutes they want is defeating the purpose. I have spent many 5 minute sessions repairing lego creations or choosing which my favorite dinosaur is from the fave dino book in between work, I am OK with that. Now my son is older, we sometimes watch (well I half watch and half listen) a move in my office together whilst I make browbands (for my other business) I don’t always get as much done, but it’s time together and I wont ever get that time back if I don’t spend it with him now. We love sci fi by the way, the more thrilling and action packed the better.
Tip # 5
There is nothing more important in your life than giving yourself a bit of ‘you time’ whatever that is. For me, it is time to ride my ‘The Orange Wonder Horse’. Sometimes, in the interests of being efficient, I drop my son to the school bus already dressed in my riding clothes and I can be on and riding before the bus even gets him to school. That comes back to planning, finding a work / life balance, and making sure you get your ‘you time’. There is no set amount of time you need, everyone is different, but you DO NEED it! Running yourself into the ground is no use to anyone at all, so every now and then, stop and recharge yourself with some ‘you time’. You will find yourself energised and more efficient when you are able to find time for yourself.
The takehome message I am aiming at here is to tell you that juggling all of these things might make you feel like you are in cray cray land sometimes, but it’s do-able and successfully running a business, household and a property is not only possible, it can be gosh darn rewarding sometimes. You learn what is really important, and who is really important, and it becomes far easier to let unimportant things and people go. You learn to be efficient, and if you don’t master the art of multitasking I don’t know where else you can learn that skill any better!
And last but not least, importantly, if the wheels fall off, don’t panic, pick yourself up, saddle the horse up and just keep riding.