Achieving a work-life balance as a working mum 

Nicola Bird, founder of JigsawBox.com, runs a global online coaching platform as well as being a mum to her three young children. Here, she tells SmallBusiness.co.uk how she has achieved a balance that works for her.

My kids are all under nine and they keep me pretty busy. But I also have a fourth ‘baby’ and that’s my business. It means I’ve had to find a way to operate as a business owner, while also being a mum too! Not an easy task, but with the right approach and planning, it really is possible to have the best of both worlds.

I started out as a life coach as, like for many mothers who are professional coaches, it suited my circumstances. It meant I could work around my children and pick and choose the times that I wanted to work.

At first, working evenings was great for me, as it meant I could spend time in the day with my children and focus on work while they were sleeping. Seems great in principle right? The trouble really comes when you fall into the trap of working too much and suddenly, all the reasons you started coaching in the first place seem to be the very things you now miss out on. Does this sound familiar?

You only need to search online to find reports and statistics stating that many working mothers are overworked, exhausted and tired. There is so much pressure to succeed in every area of our lives, leading us to juggle so many different hats that ultimately, something is bound to go wrong!

The reality is that while you can have the best of both worlds, you do have to find ways to do things differently to achieve that perfect balance. If not, your business, your relationships and even your health could suffer as a result.

Here are some of my top tips for how I achieve my perfect work-life balance. Perhaps they will work for you too?

Be disciplined

If you spend all or most of your time working from home, this is one of the key things you need to master to really achieve the best performance at work and spend quality time with your family. All too often the two become blurred, so checking emails or writing a proposal whilst sitting on the sofa with the children or taking a briefing document with you to the park.

While in some cases this is necessary, it shouldn’t become a regular occurrence. Find ways to discipline your time. It may be that you have ‘desk time’ between 10am-2pm when the kids are at school, or you have a certain day a week that you dedicate entirely to ‘family time’. Whatever way you do it, make sure you keep that fine line between work and play, so that you will appreciate both in equal measures!

The importance of delegation

One of the hardest tasks for a business owner is delegation. You are so used to running your business ‘baby’ that it can be hard to hand over the reigns to others. But if you are to achieve the work-life balance you strive for, delegation is an absolute necessity. Work out which tasks are critical for you to deliver and which can be outsourced and managed by an external team member.

I have outsourced a number of functions, which means not only do I have a wider range of expertise working to build my brand, but I don’t have to do it all myself, which gives me more time to spend doing the things I love.

Being a coach is a very personal thing and that means it can only be me that delivers what makes my particular coaching style and approach unique. But many coaches fall into the trap of thinking that to grow, they have to sell more of their one-to-one time. With only so many hours in a day, you can see how this strategy will quickly limit the earning potential of any coach!

To overcome this, I started to explore how I could utilise technology to help me spend less time in my business and more time doing the things I loved. I created programmes which included webinars, audio downloads and online coaching questions and found that people wanted to buy them.

It does take some thought to work out how to package up what you do into products that your clients actually want to buy, but once you’ve made that first online sale, you can do it over and over again. It means I’m able to make money literally while going out for the afternoon swimming with my children. I’m no longer the stressed, exhausted working mum that I used to be!

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