The Struggle of being a stay at home entrepreneur in San Francisco with a brand new son
First an important note, I'm not a single parent. I'm a brand new Dad that gets to work from home. I've been trying to re-establish my work-life balance. With the struggles I'm having adjusting to being a Father, I can't imagine what it would be like if I had to do this on my own. My respect goes out to all single parents out there. You all do more than I can imagine.
When my son was born, everything was turned upside down. I mean that is the most positive way possible. I’d been working from home for about 6 months at the time of his birth, and I had previously put systems in place to help me stay on top of all the different projects I have on my plate. I have very good time management practices in place, and thought that I would be fine as long as I stuck to my schedule.
Holy crap was I wrong. The first lesson I learned about newborns is that they only care about being warm, fed, and not sitting in a stinky diaper. All other considerations like time of day, the amount of sleep mommy and daddy have been getting, or Daddy’s deadlines for work projects don't exist. If he was a full grown person, I’d call him rude, selfish, and inconsiderate. Since, however, he’s just a baby, I call him my son.
The next thing I learned is that his cry is like a shrill whistle that will cut through EVERYTHING. It’s like a cruise missile that is programmed to target my brain. It doesn’t matter what I’m working on, how loud the music I’m listening to is, or how deep asleep I am. The moment he starts up with a cry, my brain just stops as I try to figure out why he’s crying.
The Voice of Baby, coupled with his lack of awareness around the work Daddy has to get done has totally destroyed my ability to keep my previous schedule. So what does this mean? It means I had to get creative. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve been using to stay on task:
- Involve Family and Friends – This is probably the best thing a new parent, whether you are a single parent, or just a recent parent. Getting help from family and friends is a great way to help get focus and work on a project or two. However, don’t make your child someone else’s responsibility. Getting help is fantastic, but don’t abuse it.
- Create “baby shifts” with your partner – This is a great answer, but for me, it is one of the hardest things to stick too. I have this huge chip on my shoulder to be the best Dad on the planet. I want to be involved and I want to do everything I can to help out my wife and to take care of my son. Just letting them hang out together in the living room while I work in my office is hard, not just because I can still hear him when he cries, but I just know that he’s there, and I want to be there for everything that happens. However, sticking to shifts so I can get work done, and then my wife can get back to recovering has helped us both out immensely.
- Work WHENEVER you can – I previously thought that I would be able to maintain a 9-5 set up for work (even though my fellow entrepreneurs are already thinking you can’t do that and be successful) when I first started working from home, that quickly shifted to designating time frames for certain projects, so I would still be available to my wife when she came home. Now it’s giant pots of coffee and working whenever the little guy is asleep. Thankfully he’s sleeping a lot at the moment, and I can get some work done, but when it’s my shift, and he’s awake, he gets my attention.
- Get a swing chair – My favorite is the the DuetSooth Swing and Rocker by Graco. When I’m attempting to get work done while he’s awake, I put him in this wonderful device, and get him swinging. The motion and vibration helps relax him and keeps him from being too fussy, and I can keep an eye on him.
- Stay focused – Remember, having a child is very distracting. You have this wonderful and amazing little person that is in your life now, and you still have all the responsibilities for work. Cut out the extra things in your life that don’t add value to the newest addition to your family or your business. It means less time in front of the TV, less time on Facebook, and less video games.
Being a parent is a wonderful challenge, and is much more exciting than starting my own business. However it's important to do both well to be successful, and balancing the two is important. I can't be a good dad if I'm ignoring all my work responsibilities, and I can be a good business owner if I'm ignoring my kid.
Find the best combination that works for you, and whether you are a dad, mom, or anything in between I wish you the very best of luck.
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