Work-Life Balance for Women

by David B. Bohl

If you’re a female entrepreneur or small business owner, you probably already realize that you’ve got some special demands on your time, which represent unique challenges.

It’s not enough that you run a business … there’s also a huge expectation, even if it’s unspoken, that you will also run your home and take care of the needs of your children.

Your husband and children have probably never communicated this to you directly, but they’ve no doubt expressed it in little ways.

  • “Honey, my shirts need to go to the dry cleaners.”
  • “Mom, I need 3 dozen chocolate-chip cookies for the bake sale.”
  • “Honey, the Johnsons are coming over tomorrow night for dinner…what are we having?”
  • “Mom, the dog threw up.”

Growing up, you were constantly bombarded with messages that you would someday be a wife and mother, and that as such you would be expected to keep up a neat, clean, attractive home for your husband and children.

Unfortunately, even when a woman starts a business, those expectations don’t change much.

Studies have shown that even when couples try to divide up chores evenly, husbands usually pick chores that are infrequent and of short duration, such as taking out the trash and fixing leaky faucets.

Wives, on the other hand, get the daily stuff that takes longer to complete, such as laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, washing dishes, dusting, mopping, and cleaning the bathroom. Even if domestic help is hired, food must still be shopped for and meals prepared.

If you’re picking up more than your share of the household slack, sit down with your husband and pick apart your list of chores. Estimate the time it takes to complete each one and the number of times each must be done per week. This might open everyone’s eyes to the fact that you’re contributing the lion’s share at home.

Another thing you’ll want to do is have periodic family meetings. Remind your family of all the great things you’re doing to in your work life and home life to help make possible everyone’s way of life, and list the tangible benefits, such as…

  • Upcoming family vacations
  • New cars
  • New bikes
  • Special camps and programs for the kids
  • Nicer Christmases
  • Nicer clothes, more often

By the same token, you don’t want to go too far in the other direction and become an entrepreneurial workaholic with Mr. Mom taking care of your kids.

The best way to prevent the latter occurrence is to set goals in every area of your life, including rest and relaxation, and to set boundaries on your work hours.

If your husband works outside the home, and you have small children who are not yet in school, and if you run your business from home, you will need to set flexible work hours.

Small children don’t understand Mom’s work hours, but they do understand feeling neglected. Have a flexible strategy so that you can pull away from your desk to be there for your child and get your work accomplished at another time.

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