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Running a business can often take more time than there is in a day, but what happens when there’s no time left for your family?
The time that you spend with your children establishes a foundation upon which they build themselves and grow into healthy, self-confident adults. So, if the time you spend with them is limited or empty, the ramifications can be dire.
It may sound easier said than done, but you can choose both success and being a parent to your children. If your time is limited, make the effort to maximize the impact of your time together when you are available. This way, even busy C-suite parents (and individuals with C-suite aspirations) can provide the strong foundation their children need to grow. Here’s how to make it happen.
Related: Tips to Balance Work With Parenting
1. Be present
Multitasking might seem more efficient, but to make the most of the time spent with your children, be truly present. Let your kids know how important your job is to you, and then let your kids know how important they are to you. Focus on quality over quantity. Doing the dishes while they finish their homework at the kitchen table is hardly quality time. Schedule time with them and be present mentally when you’ve agreed it’s “family time.” When my son was just a little boy, he shouted at me in frustration, “Mom, please listen to me with your eyes” — words I kept on a Post-it note inside my desk for the next ten years. To maximize the time you spend with your children, be present by listening — with your eyes.
To understand stability, kids need you to truly be there for them, even when you can’t be with them physically. From the time my kids were tiny until they left for college, I would tuck them into bed. No matter where I was, I made sure to connect with them for our scheduled goodnight (sometimes texting or calling at a very bizarre time from somewhere else in the world). Sometimes it was a quick 15 seconds, but others, we talked about the problems they faced that day. Consistent efforts to be present let children know that they can rely on their parents’ support when they need it.
Related: Parenting’s Latest Challenge: Working at Home While Schooling Your Children
2. Always take your child’s needs into consideration
Making the most of how you spend time with your children also means listening to your children’s needs and putting them first whenever you can. If you have time to be at home, make the effort to give as much of it as possible fully to them. Pay people to handle tasks that would otherwise take your attention away from your kids. A hundred dollars an hour for a handyman or cleaning lady is worth it if it allows you to be present for your children.
One of the first jobs I had after having my children had me traveling extensively through Europe, and connecting with my family was difficult. Once, after I spent all day trying to call home, my pre-school-aged daughter, who wasn’t normally allowed to answer the phone, picked up. After she found out it was me calling, she said she didn’t want to talk to me and hung up the phone. In her eyes, my reliability was threatened, and anger helped her regain control. Instead of accepting that anger and letting it grow, I got a new job and restored my reliability. In the end, that decision led me to the company that I run today. Putting your child’s needs first can always work out for you if you do what it takes to make sure that it does.
Related: This Woman Entrepreneur Makes Parenting Easier
3. Involve them in your work
If work takes time away from your children, give some of it back to them by involving them in what you do. When issues with my company or employees arose, for example, I would always ask for my children’s opinions during our dinner conversations (confidentially, of course). By encouraging their input in running a business, kids feel more like an included part of it, even when it takes you away from being with them.
Sharing your work with your children creates valuable teaching moments at any age. When they’re little, these may be lessons about how to treat others, but when they’re old enough, they become more capable of offering keen business insights. In fact, one of my sons ended up going into business himself, which he attributes, in part, to his constant engagement with my work as he grew. Even if they follow a different path, by giving your children the opportunity to learn about running a business, they gain a valuable set of skills that they can take with them into adulthood.
Every minute of the day, you make a choice in how you spend your time, so make an active effort to choose your children. This can only come from putting in the work. You chose to have your children, so make the choice to spend quality time with them. In the end, it’s as simple as that.