This weekend I was out running errands when the text notification on my iPhone went off. Since I was driving I used the “Hey Siri” option to have the message read aloud. It was from my (now grown) daughter, Lauren.
Siri: Lauren says, “You really need to watch fundamentals of caring.”
My heart sank (just a little) as I thought, what is my daughter trying to tell me? That I wasn’t caring enough? That I need to pay more attention to showing care and attention to my kids? I had no idea what she was talking about, but for my daughter to tell me to go back to the fundamentals of caring (like there’s a book or something on such a topic), well, that hurt!
Siri: Lauren says, “It’s a really heart-warming movie on Netflix, I think you’d like it.”
Phew! Relief! It’s a movie, not my daughter on some dawn of awareness about a childhood spent with an uncaring mom. But it made me think; could I have been more caring?
Like you, I love my kids with all of my heart. Still, when they were young I had a very demanding career and a long commute. When they turned twelve years of age I opened my coffeehouse, then launched my coaching practice, I worked crazy-long hours. Did my demanding career mean I cared any less?
Not in the least.
While my personal hours may have been limited, my children were my number one priority—and they knew it. Over the years, I have coached with many parents who carry the burden of guilt, mostly caused by their own perspective of how they parent.
When my girls were about twenty-two (now twenty-nine) I asked them if they thought I’d done an “OK” job of raising them, especially as a single parent. Did they feel loved? Did they feel left out or abandoned by me? I will never forget the looks on their faces as they turned their heads toward one-another with furrowed brows. (As twins they often engage in this non-verbal communication to select a speaker.) Finally, I got my answer. “Mom,” Kim said. “You did a better job of raising us than most people who have a spouse could have.” Lauren: “We always felt loved and secure, and we had a really, really fun childhood. You made it so we hardly even missed having a dad.”
So my message to you my dear entrepreneurs: Yes, you can have a successful business without depriving your children of having a great parent. The guilt that you may feel is most likely self-imposed; it’s likely that your kids have a far different perspective.
How are you doing with the balancing act of parenting and entrepreneurialism? You can do it. Just remember the key to success: be present, live in the moment.
So what’s that mean anyway? If you spend time with your kids, but your mind isn’t in the room with you, it’s not quality time and your kids will know it. Learn to put work in a separate bucket and keep your mind focused on the precious opportunity before you—to be wholly and completely present with your young children—because someday you will feel like you’d give anything to have just one more day with those little people who they once were. Whether it’s an hour, half of a day, a day, a weekend, a week, make it count. When children are given quality time with their parents, feeling like the center of the Universe, that is what creates the bond, the memories, the feeling of being loved and secure. It’s not the hours of a parent saying, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” that a great childhood makes.
It is within your power to be an awesome mom, or dad, and an outstanding entrepreneur! Just be mindful…