Last week we mentioned that one of our goals as a business is to help other photographers and small business owners who work from home balance work life and home life. As a husband and wife team, we know how much intentional effort is needed to achieve a good rhythm in home and work. By sharing our experience and some of the lessons we have learned along the way, we hope to make the path a little easier for those of you who are attempting to do the same.
It’s easy to lose sight of our family when all we do is stare down the lens at the lives of our clients. In order to be successful in our business, we have to put our family as priority.
For those of you who are balancing work and family in the same physical space and same relationships, like us, welcome. We’ve affectionately started calling our sector of society the “work from home parent”. When one or both parents work from home, there are a number of issues that arise that are particular to our “work from home parenting”.
For instance, we very quickly discovered that having a business out of our home means house roles and work roles start to merge together. We don’t leave our homes for a work space where we can focus solely on our job. We occupy the same sphere, with tasks and distractions constantly competing for our attention. If you’re a fellow work-from-home business person, you know that you have to purposefully transition from home tasks to business tasks throughout the day.
Once we began having children, we found the role was increasingly difficult to handle. We juggle life as a parent, spouse, owner and operator of a business, and our only coworker is our spouse. If you’re like we were back then, launching your own business is exhilarating. You may feel thrilled to have flexible hours, make your own schedule and spend more time with your spouse or family. (We quickly discovered that even though we love each other, working together can certainly present its own challenges.)
There are days where we feel that same excitement and we openly acknowledge and celebrate that we have the freedom to do more things together as a couple and as a family. But there are also days where Nathan and I feel like the communication is lacking and we are living on different planets, entrenched in our own tasks and barely able to find time to talk.
How can we manage the advantageous freedoms of being self-employed while continuing to develop our familial relationships and put proper boundaries within our home to achieve the ultimate work-to-home life balance? This question is one we are continually striving to answer. We are not perfect, and we do not have the perfect system. But we are continually evaluating what works for us and how we can be the most efficient parents, spouses, and business owners. It is our hope to share the things that we have learned (a lot of times the hard way) in hopes that you won’t have to suffer through the heartaches and challenges we have gone through. We want you to thrive as a business and see healthy growth, balance and harmony within your marriage, work, and family.
We will be posting on this topic weekly over the next few months. Whether you have kids currently or are planning on having kids at some point, we believe you can apply the things we have learned to help balance your work/home life.
Here are our top 4 tips for working together:
This one might seem obvious, but it is essential to maintaining peace in our home and business. We constantly need to be reminded that we must have more patience with one another. Often it is our spouse who gets the blunt end of our impatience, and it’s our spouse we typically lash out on the most when we tend to get worked up and stressed out. Patience is the best gift we can give each other, so take a deep breathe and strive to have more patience in your life today.
2) Establish Roles
We will be talking a lot more about this in the coming weeks and months. Nathan and I have distinct and separate roles within our business and home life. When you know your role and what it is that you are actually responsible for within your business and home you will be more focused and driven to accomplish tasks. Without these roles there is a lot of finger pointing and disappointments that can arise, most of which come from unmet expectations and assumptions.
3) Have a System
Your system doesn’t need to be perfect and it can be an evolving system. Your system doesn’t even need to make sense to everyone or work for everyone. As long as you have a system and it is working for you., stick to it. We have found that we work and get things accomplished in ways that other people don’t quite understand. For example, Nathan and I do not fit the typical 9-5 work day mold. We live a “free-flowing” life with two toddlers, and we want to spend as much time during the day with them as we can. Because we have made the choice to prioritize family, most nights Nathan is still up at 10 or 11 pm finishing up work or editing pictures. This system may not work for everyone. This is just one particular aspect of our work/home life system that works for us. In future weeks and months we will be discussing more about our system and other “systems” we have tried before as well.
4) Set Boundaries
Boundaries for your work and home life aren’t restrictive, and they aren’t meant to stifle creativity. Boundaries actually create more space for us to be successful in the dual realms we live in, as a family and as fellow business partners. When Nathan and I first started working together this was our biggest downfall. There was no separation between work life and home life; and chaos surrounded us. We still have our moments of letting work takeover our house, but we have strived to give work its place and prioritize our family and each other above it.