It’s never easy balancing work and family life as a small business owner. This becomes even more true when you work a full time job and have a small business on the side. You must take care of your day job because that pays the mortgage and you must also keep your clients happy from your small business. All the while your family is there and they need you. But when you throw in the wrinkle of a sick child it becomes monstrously difficult.
My family was dealing with my son’s sickness several months ago…for around two months. He had been admitted to the hospital twice and had one surgery. It’s very difficult when your seven year old can’t walk because of a mystery pain and looks up at you and says “Why Daddy…why is this happening to me?”. It breaks your heart. My wife and I are very lucky in that our day jobs are very flexible. We both have a lot of leave built up and they let us come and go as we need (we work together). But I also have a small business (I.T. consulting) and I have clients who depend on me.
This presents a problem. My family comes first..there is no question to that. But I cannot ignore my responsibilities. As I was trying to balance all of this I used several methods to get through this time and keep my sanity…while not losing clients in the process.
Give it All To God
This is the big one. I could not have gotten through my son’s sickness without the peace that God gives me. I know that He is in control and I just need to trust Him. It’s not always easy but it’s worth the effort because there is no peace like the peace of God. When you have a sick child it’s hard to focus on anything else. My consulting work involves writing code and you need laser focus when you are doing that. Trusting in God allowed me to not worry (so much) about my son and focus on getting the work done.
Tackle Small Chunks at a Time
I have a client who needed quite a bit of work done to one of their websites. There was no way I could sit down and do it all at once. However, I couldn’t just ignore it and do none of it. So I broke it down into 20 or 30 small tasks that each took less than 5 minutes. Then, when we were at the hospital and my son would sleep for a few minutes…I’d fire up my tablet and knock out one or two of those tasks. The important thing here is to be sure that you do these tasks in the correct order. This doesn’t matter for some jobs but for this one it did. Each change built upon the next so getting organized initially was vital. By doing this I was able to finish the changes in a few days.
Be Honest With Your Clients
I’m not sure what kind of relationship you have with your clients but I have a great one with mine. I simply called (or emailed) and explained exactly what was going on. The majority of my clients told me to not worry about them but to take care of my family first. I did have one client that had several requests pending. They asked if I would take care of the two most important and the rest could wait until whenever. So, by talking to them about the situation, I was able to keep them happy by handling their most important issues. This would not have been done had I not talked to them.
This was not a “how to” list or a tutorial but simply me sharing how I balanced my small business when I had a sick child. My son is doing much better now and, while we aren’t out of the woods yet, we are enjoying a period of calm. This has helped me catch up and also begin to prepare for the next hospital stay. If you find yourself in the same situation I hope some of this helps you.