14 Sep How to run a successful business and still be a good parent.
Kate Toon looks at how she banished her parenting guilt and enjoyed establishing a new business.
The sun is setting in my back garden and I’m talking to Barry in my Facebook group. Barry doesn’t understand some aspects of marketing and I’m trying to explain it to him, but it’s not going well.
I’m also considering my next post and then, as I look through my home office window, across the back garden, I can see my four-year-old son in furry pyjamas watching In the Night Garden in the lounge room, the garish colours of Upsy Daisy lighting up the walls and his face.
‘I’ll just be five minutes,’ I’d told him. But it never is. It’s been way longer.
I should be in that lounge room because it’s not Barry who deserves my time right now. It’s my son.
I’m trying to be a successful businessperson as well as a great parent, and right now I’m doing a terrible job of both.
My priority was always to try to be a good parent – the sort who does craft with their child and bakes homemade oatmeal biscuits. My other priority was to be a killer businessperson who does impeccable marketing, feels confident about their cash flow, and relentlessly dreams big.
These two goals fit together like two ill-fitting, damp jigsaw pieces.
I’ve not turned up at school sports days due to meetings, forgotten birthday cupcakes while on a business trip and missed out on hearing a story because my brain was abuzz with spreadsheets and deadlines. My parent guilt just didn’t stop.
Does that sound familiar?
These days I’ve ‘toughened up’ a bit and learned some tactics and mindset shifts that allow me to deal with these guilty feelings.
Parent guilt often comes from expectations about how you should be parenting your child. It’s often exacerbated by comparing yourself to your own and other parents – both real and fictional – or measuring yourself against a self-created list of impossible proof points.
There sometimes needs to be some ‘guilt’, or at least a modicum of ‘care factor’. On a primal level, it helps us stay focused on our children rather than letting them be chewed on by the mammoth outside our cave.
It’s so easy to lose your sense of self when you have kids and forget you’re anything beyond a ‘parent’, but never forget that you are allowed to do things other than parent 24/7.
I think it’s important to recognise that most parents feel guilty at one time or another and that it’s perfectly ‘normal’. I’m not sure it ever goes away completely, but there are ways to mitigate and minimise these feelings.
You can have hobbies and interests; socialise with other adults (and not just those with kids) and be excited developing your own business.
With your own business, you’re teaching your kids an amazing life lesson. You’re showing them what it means to be brave, persistent, confident, hardworking, inventive and so much more.
When you think about parental guilt it’s vital to know how to minimise it, as it’s going to help you stop wasting your time feeling guilty and spend more time getting the things done that you were worried about in the first place.
It’s also going to help you find the headspace to focus on your business when you are working and enjoy parenting when it’s parenting time. And get you off the emotional roller-coaster to live a calmer life.
Kate Toon is an award-winning entrepreneur author, speaker, educator, podcaster, and parent to one human and one fur baby.
Her new book ‘Six Figures in School Hours: How to run a successful business and still be a good parent’ on Amazon, Booktopia and all major bookstores.