Work Life Balance With Family &
a Side Hustle
Things can get pretty crazy when you're going for your dreams and building your own business on the side. Work life balance may seem like it's always eluding you. Especially when you're still working in a full-time job and raising children as well.
I get it! I’ve been there. I completely relate to the struggle, the exhaustion, and the feelings of overwhelm to the point where it seems like it’s all too much. You probably have days where you wonder if it’s really even worth it and question why you’re doing this to yourself (I sure did!). Doubt slowly creeps in and you begin to wonder if you’re making a mistake. You wonder if you should just throw in the towel and surrender to Netflix and that pint of ice cream that's calling your name.
Let me start by saying this. Take a bit of time out and reflect on what you're doing. If you truly feel in your heart and soul - your intuition is telling you - that this business venture is what you're meant to be pursuing, then the doubt is likely just your ego making its appearance and trust me, it is possible to balance it all without losing your mind. If however, you're trying to force something that deep down you know isn't right for you, it's time to rethink and shift your focus to something more in alignment with your heart and soul.
Finding work life balance isn't something you "achieve" and then have it forever. It's something we have to work into our consciousness and actually make it a priority. And let's face it. It doesn't always happen, so on those days I just let it go. I don’t beat myself up over it because I know the next day is a new day. That’s just life and life is unpredictable.
However, I do feel like I have work life balance down to an art and most days feel pretty balanced to me. This post will fill you in on what has worked for me across the years, and what I continue to do now to balance my life and manage my workload, my business, our family life, our insane schedule with 2 little kiddos, all while maintaining my sanity (most of the time). So here we go:
How I Maintain Work Life Balance with A Family & A side hustle
1. I take care of myself – first and foremost
For 5 years (after my first baby was born) I pretty much put myself last. Everyone and everything else came first. Looking back, I now see all the heartache, the drama, and the heaviness it caused in our lives because I was exhausted, resentful, and literally had nothing left in my cup to give.
We can't keep giving, let alone have the brain power it takes to make a major life change, when we're empty ourselves. Just like a car won't run on empty, neither will our bodies. I now make a conscious effort to do something for myself every day - even if it's just a short yoga session at home (yep the kids play games on the iPad), setting my alarm 30 minutes early for a workout or meditation, or 20 minutes of reading in candlelight before bed.
I also take one evening per week to myself. When you’re a mom this is so important! I get out in nature, hit up a yoga class, or have dinner with friends. My days are so much happier (which means my kids and husband are too)! Take it from me - FILL YOUR CUP.
2. I set aside time at least 6 days per week to work on my new venture
Whether it’s on your business or a course you’re taking for your new biz, do something 6 days per week as small as it may be. I know what you’re thinking – “I’m so exhausted after working all day, taking care of my kids in the evening, I don’t even sit down until 9:00pm – the last thing I want to do is “more work.”
Here’s the thing. It doesn’t have to be a 2-3-hour block. Even just 30 minutes to one hour each day will get you traction. And keep in mind - it won’t be like this forever! You’ll get through the crazy transition period eventually and your life won’t be so hectic. The key is to move through it one day at a time, one baby step at a time.
Where do I fit it in? I usually squeeze in 30 minutes around lunchtime, one hour 2-3 evenings per week (hubby watches the kids one night and I work after they are in bed the others), take Saturdays off completely, and work for 4-5 hours every other Sunday morning. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, use nap-time to sneak in some work! I’m home with my kids 3 days per week (weekends and one weekday), and on those days, I also use nap-time to work.
3. I work with the natural RHYTHMS of my body
I’m not a night person whatsoever, so after a long day at work (and then dealing with the chaos of kids in the evening), the last thing I'd want to do at 8:30pm is create content or write blog posts. My brain literally doesn’t function that way.
So, in the evenings I'd do things that don’t require a lot of thinking like answering emails, typing what I’ve already written in my ideas notebook, research fun topics for upcoming blog posts, gathering pictures for social media, or just working on easy tasks that need to get done.
It helps tremendously to know what times of day your brain functions best for each project. One of my clients wakes up at 4:00am to write – that’s when her brain is in creative mode, so that’s what works for her. Find your flow – find what’s best for you and harness the energies when you feel them.
4. I Stay present in the moment
This is SO much easier said than done because when we’re starting something new in our lives, we want to work on it or think about it all the time! It’s exciting, right!? Trust me – that will be fun for a while, but eventually it will Burn. You. Out.
Instead, allow yourself to enjoy life in the moment. When you’re at work, be at work. When you’re at the gym, be at the gym. If you’re outside with your kids, play with your kids. If you’re on a date with your significant other, be there. Of course, you’ll always have ideas popping into your head, or you’ll think of something else that needs to be done, so write it down or type a note in your phone, and then continue with what you were doing.
5. Rest when my body says rest
This is something I’ve only learned within the last year – but it makes ALL the difference and I wish I would have figured this out years ago. When someone asks you how you are, I’m guessing a lot of the time you say, “I’m SO busy!”
We praise being busy. We praise hard work. We praise pushing, driving, striving, achieving, and working 12-hour days. This is how our society trains us to be. But it hasn’t always been this way, and our bodies (especially women’s bodies) aren’t biologically designed to handle that kind of pace. It leads to all sorts of health problems like burn out, exhaustion, mental/physical fatigue, anxiety, depression, the list goes on.
I’ve burnt out many times and I now know if I don’t take time to rest, restore, and bring my energy back to me, I shut down. If you are interested in learning more about this, research masculine and feminine energy. And if you are a woman, there is a beautiful way to work with the natural cycle of your body which I swear by now. Read this beautiful article by one of my fellow coaches Sammie Fleming on just how to do so. It's been life-changing for me.
I've lived so much of my life unbalanced and more in my masculine energy where I tried to force things into being. I now embrace my feminine energy which is all about allowing, openness, and receiving intuitive guidance for my next steps. Rather than forcing something, I aim to flow with ease. Now I'm not saying I just sit back and don't take action, it means I take inspired action and work from a place of intuition and an open heart.
If there’s a day I feel like taking a break, I do. If I feel like playing with my kids rather than working on a Sunday, I do. If I feel like staying off social media or putting my phone away, I do. If there’s a time I need a few days away from my business, I take them. When I was getting my Master’s Degree, I once took 9 months off to enjoy my new baby.
You will be so much better off in the long run if you take time to refresh yourself, restore your heart, reconnect with your soul, and rest your body.
6. Sometimes I just say NO
This can be a hard one for those of us that have “people-pleasing” tendencies. When you’re going through a career transition, your workload can literally double. Your time is precious - choose wisely what you say yes to, and say no to anything that doesn’t make your heart sing. I’m not saying to go be a hermit, but it’s OK to say, “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to make that” or “can we choose a different day?” It’s important to prioritize what you’re giving your attention to and avoid spreading yourself thin.
7. I stopped trying to be perfect at everything
Let’s face it – we are all human. Some days are going to be amazing, and others not so much. Our lives are different every day. I struggled most of my life with wanting everything to be perfect, which we all know is completely unrealistic. So I've worked to adjust my mindset and my new motto is progress over perfection. Your life doesn’t have to be perfect, how you do things doesn’t have to be perfect, the work you’re putting out into the world doesn’t need to be perfect. YOU don’t have to be perfect. If you forget someone’s birthday, or leave your kids lunches at home, forget to pack their backpacks, call someone the wrong name, or send someone the wrong email, it happens! It doesn’t make you a bad person or a failure – it makes you human!
Have compassion for yourself, feel empathy for yourself, love yourself – and treat yourself as kindly, and as beautifully as you treat the people you love. When you stop trying to be perfect, things naturally start to flow with more ease.
8. Outsource what I can
There’s only so much we can do with the limited amount of hours during the day. Once you add building a business into your life, your energy is required in a really big way. Where in your life are you leaking energy, that you can actually outsource? A hint: what is it you dread doing?
For me - grocery shopping and cleaning my house. These were the first two things I outsourced when I started my business. I don’t have to stress or feel annoyed about cleaning my house, and I order my groceries online to have them delivered.
Both of these save me time, save me stress, and are things I don’t enjoy doing. At the end of the day, this allows me to do more of what I love, and save that energy to put back into my business.
Some other ways this might look: hire a nanny a few hours each week so you can work on your business, hire someone to do meal preps for you or order a meal service 3 days each week, hire out your lawn service, or even hire a VA to do the redundant tasks within your business that you don’t really enjoy.
Long story short - close your energy leaks and save your best energy for your business by outsourcing what you can. I promise you, this alone makes a huge difference!
9. HAVE FUN!
Every week I write out my to-do list and there's a space for a weekly intention at the top of the page. For the longest time, every week my intention was to HAVE FUN. It seems so crazy to have to remind myself to have fun but when we're going through a major life change whether it's a career change, starting a new business, moving house, or having a baby, it can get really stressful and super overwhelming.
Coming back to WHY we're doing this is so important. If we truly feel like we're following our heart and soul, then we are meant to be going down the path we've chosen. And it's supposed to be FUN! We are designed to feel joy and happiness, but sometimes we must remind ourselves to take a step back from the busyness and just embrace the beautiful change we're making and how good it makes us feel. So go and have FUN doing your thing!
Work life balance will look differently for everyone. What works for me, may not work for you. It’s important for you to find what works for you, and that takes experimentation. If you already know what doesn’t work for you, that’s a start. Go easy on yourself, remember this is supposed to be joyful – you’re meant to be going down this path. Embrace your beautiful, exciting, raw, adventurous journey. Isn’t that what life is all about?
“It’s good to have an end to journey towards, but it’s the journey that matters in the end.” ~Ursula Le Guin
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Erica Carrico is an International Life Purpose Coach, world traveler, adventure seeker, free spirit, and mommy of 2.
Through coaching services, speaking, and writing, Erica helps holistic & spiritual professionals who are frustrated and stuck in the wrong career, discover their life purpose and start a soul-aligned business so they can finally earn a living doing what they absolutely love. What they were put on earth to do.
Erica has a BS in Psychology, an MS in Nonprofit Management, life and career coaching certifications, 12+ years experience in business leadership and international recruitment, built a fully-booked soul-aligned business within a year, has traveled through over 50 different countries, and is obsessed with helping thousands of people all around the world live lives full of passion, purpose, freedom, and adventure.