Balancing Act: 12 Tips for Finance Directors Juggling Parenting & WorkAug 04, 2023
Being a Finance Leader is no small task. With responsibility for the financial health of a company, the pressure can be immense.
Now, throw in parenting duties (or study!) and you've got yourself quite the juggling act.
The good news?
It is possible to balance both, and even find time for yourself amidst it all. However, it takes time with some trial and error and it isn't fool proof.
I've got two kids, the oldest is about to turn ten, so I've been a parent for a while. While I'm better and juggling (with the added bonus of my kids being easier to manage compared to toddlers), there are some days that just don't work.
So, my biggest tip in these instances is to give yourself some slack and lose the guilt (better said than done and I'm still trying to learn this). Everyone is trying the best and it is impossible to be perfect. So be kind to yourself.
Nevertheless, here are twelve tips that can help make the balancing act of being a working parent in finance a bit more manageable.
If you aren't a parent, some of these tips will also be relevant, as a work life balance is a goal even if you aren't a parent!
Start Your Day Right: A morning routine can set the tone for the day. Whether it's a quick workout, a quiet cup of coffee, or a few moments of meditation, find what energises you and stick to it.For me, it's a pint of water and exercise before the craziness of the school run begins. It took me nearly 2 years to get into this consistent routine. However, I relish it. I'm motivated for the headspace and me time more than the fitness benefit. If you are that way inclined, I would also suggest prepping what you can the night before. I can only manage my own gym kit, rather than any kids stuff, but I like this idea in theory!
Prioritise: Not all tasks are created equal. As a Finance Director, it's essential to identify what truly needs your attention each day. Use a tool or system that helps you manage your tasks and prioritise effectively.With my team I've moved from Kanbanflow to Trello and I'm find this really useful to just get things out of my head. I've also written extensively on this topic here.
Set Boundaries: Keep your work and home life separate as much as possible. Establish clear working hours and communicate these boundaries to colleagues and family.Two days a week I'm at the school gates doing pick up and three days a week the kids are at care / activities so I can work. My calendar & Calendly link is blocked for these timings and I never waiver. Well, I don't now. I used to. I would say "yes!" to meetings that I felt I should be at and then failed miserably at work and family. Hybrid working has made this easier, as you can be more flexible with your time, but sometimes you have to say no. Slack and work email notifications have also been switched off on my phone. If it's urgent, they'll call.
Leverage Technology: Use finance tools and apps to automate repetitive tasks. This can save you time and make your work more efficient.Software is certainly making things easier and easier at work. But it's still a moving beast. And sometimes its short term pain for long term gain. Again, I've talked about work software a lot here. Outside work, use your grocery apps: milk is delivered as well as groceries. There are many apps that can help with day to day admin / task lists as well as finding help like a cleaner.
Delegate: Remember that you don't have to do everything yourself. Delegate tasks at work and share responsibilities at home.Again, another one that involves short term pain for long term gain. Don't fall into the trap of "I'll just do it as its faster - you'll then have to do it every time. For some small tasks at work that are difficult to explain, I use Loom to record myself doing the task once and then delegate. For me, this has been a gamechanger. In the home, the kids now have a Chore Chart - I have used "Barefoot Kids" by Scott Pape as a resource for those in Australia.
Focus on Quality Time: Make the most of your time with your children. Engage in activities that foster connection, like reading a book together or going for a walk.I have often tried to "look after" the kids while using slack or checking emails. This is still difficult to avoid, however when my kids come home from wherever I try to sit with each for at least 15 min and give them 100% of my focus. Such a short time has given me a lot of insight into their lives and fostered our relationship.
Take Breaks: Regular breaks can help improve focus and reduce stress. A quick walk or a few minutes of deep breathing can make a big difference.I love a walk at lunchtime, especially as I often work from home. Even just 15 min to dash out to buy a coffee is enough to feel a little refreshed. Even better with a podcast.
Stay Organised: Keep your work and home spaces tidy. A clutter-free environment can lead to a clutter-free mind.Easier said than done, especially in small houses in London! However, I do now have a plant and good old IKEA storage solutions for my desk space. Does make it more welcoming. For general organisation, I have a weekly chart on the fridge that lists everyone's activities & what needs to be brought to school each day. We also have a wall chart & a Family Google calendar that keeps track of all social events.
Ask for Help: It's okay to ask for support when you need it, whether it's from your partner, a trusted friend, or a professional.I've only managed this recently - especially with friends who have kids the same age. We now take care of each other's kids when required and share drop offs etc, which really helps.
Practice Self-Care: Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleep hygiene are essential for maintaining your physical and mental well-being.Goes without saying. A couple of Cook or Allplants frozen batch cooking style meals in the freezer help me. As well as implementing the wellness options on my phone....
Stay Connected: Maintain open communication with your team and family. Regular check-ins can help address issues before they become bigger problems. 1:1 meetings with all your team is non-negotiable.Having most of my family live in Australia, we implemented a regular Monday morning zoom call during Covid and we have kept it still today. So I know that I speak to my family at least once a week. Wonderful way for me to start the week.
Enjoy Downtime: Don't forget to take time out for yourself. Do something you enjoy, whether it's reading a book, listening to music, or having a bath. This can help you recharge and face the next day with renewed energy.This is probably more for me than you. I struggle with this one, as I find myself walking into the study when I have a free moment, so it's definitely a reminder for me!
Life as a working parent can be a delicate balancing act, but with careful planning and a mindful approach, it's possible to successfully navigate your role as a Finance Director while making time for family and self-care. Remember, it's not about achieving a perfect balance, but finding what works best for you and your family and is always a work in progress.
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