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More than 40 work-life balance tips from dad entrepreneurs

Are you a dad entrepreneur trying to do it all? There are now more fathers than ever who are starting businesses, in addition to having children. Many parents, both mothers and fathers alike, are now starting businesses that fit their lifestyle, so the need for work-life balance is even greater.

Earlier this week we reached out to dad entrepreneurs and here are more than 40 tips that they shared with us about work-life balance.

Work-life balance tips from dad entrepreneurs

A number of years ago before I became a dad there were two pieces of advice I was given (as I was a Rotary President at the time). The first was that family comes first, then work then everything else. – Kevin Cahill, Canadian Legacy Builder

One tip I can share for young fathers who are entrepreneurs! *SLEEP TRAIN YOUR BABY!* Sleep-training is a technique that teaches babies how to settle themselves. One of the most difficult things for new parents is settling their babies to sleep. Sometimes, this can take hours and it totally drains & stresses you out. Being an entrepreneur means that you need all the time you can get, but I didn't want to neglect my daughter. So my wife and I decided early on that we should train our daughter to settle herself. So! for all young entrepreneurial parents out there, sleep-train your kids! and you'll surely be rewarded with time and a very well-slept baby! – Eric, Marvelogs

Quality time is the most important thing you can give your children. A simple time management rule I have for myself is work when alone, play when together. Entrepreneurs must be willing to work during the 3 windows of time when the kids are unavailable: 1) during their sleep; 2) during school and 3) after you kiss them goodnight. – Sam Dedio, Patrumin Investors

My biggest secret is using Google Calendar. Everything has to go in the calendar and I stay on schedule. I stop everything around 2:10 everyday to get my 8 year-old at school. My hours shift from working to father and helping with school work. My wife is out of the house from 7 a.m. to around 6 p.m. everyday and recently we decided as a family to have her return to school so she can become an attorney. – Ty Swartz, Chief's Touch

Be flexible with your working hours and make them work around your family; rather than the other way around. You can always do admin in the early hours or late at night. This allows you to attend events like your child's school plays or find time to do their reading. For instance, I will often get up at 4am to do a lot of my work so I can spend more time with my children when they get home from school. – David Lowbridge, Two Feet Marketing

Be open about your newly restrictive schedule with your clients. Not only will many of them be able to relate as parents themselves, but it helps to strengthen your personal connection with your customers. – Mike Newman, stkr.it

Tips: 1. My wife has full access to my calendar. She can place important kid activities on my schedule to make sure I don't miss anything. 2. Study Saturday-my kids (11 & 13) will do study time and lunch at my office on Saturday mornings. This has been so successful, I am thinking about opening to some of son's friends.  – Russell Hyken, Educational + Psychotherapy Services LLC.

Real estate has allowed me to have a flexible schedule, develop roots in one community and provide stability for the children. Yes there is income variability but I control my reality, rather than a company that can say move here or there or good bye. – Bruce Ailion, Location Location Location

Balance is easy. Avoid pain in the ass clients. Time is more important than money. Don’t chase the big cheques, but rather find the clients who share your values. I’m very clear that I don’t work weekends or evenings. If that isn’t compatible with what a prospect is looking for, then they are not my ideal client. I’m not fabulously wealthy, but bills are paid and my wife doesn’t have to work full time. – Aidan Crawford, Short Circuit Media 

Find ways to be fully present and fully engaged in your interactions – both with work colleagues and with your kids. Even young children (mine are 4 and 7) can understand and respect that a parent needs to be uninterrupted in a phone call, or while working on a project – as long as they see that respect being modeled in your interactions with them and others. 10 or 15 minutes of full engagement (not looking at the smartphone, not checking email) with kids on their terms is better than hours of mild half-attention. If you’re answering their questions or having a conversation with them and your eyes are on a screen instead of on them, you’re doing it wrong. – Robert Hornsby, American Homebuilders of West Africa

The one thing that I can say makes a huge difference is the YMCA Indian Princess Program. This gives me the father daughter time I need in order to make a difference in my daughters life. We do 5-6 overnight weekend camping trips as well as many other events throughout the year.  – Kevin Tacher, Independence Title 

Starting a new business is time consuming and requires being attentive to that business around the clock. Being naturally inquisitive, children are interested in what you are working on, why you're on phone at 9pm or sending emails over the weekend. Engage your children in the business, let them know what you are doing, why you are doing it, what problem it solves or cool product you are launching. Make them feel apart of it, ask what they think about your idea or product. Show them your product. Take them to your office. Everyone in the family is making sacrifices for the entrepreneur parent. Let them be apart of the process. You may find that they have some interesting ideas, you'll be teaching them something they are not going to learn in school, and they'll understand and feel apart of what you've committed so much time to.  – Brooks Addington, Realtimes Products LLC

One tip to share with others: Clearly identify your priorities…in both business and family. Once you have clearly laid those out, put in place a plan to make both successful. In my opinion, one isn't successful if the other isn't running smoothly. I often ‘check in with myself' and ask How is this working for me? and if something is a bit off, I work hard to change and fix it quickly to get back on track.  – Dr. John Chao, Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique

Know when to stop working. Being an entrepreneur is much different from punching a time clock or reporting to work on an employer's schedule. Being your own boss means the success of your business rests on you, and for that reason it can be difficult to know when to stop working. I find myself at times working until 9 or 10pm. It's hard to know how much is enough to make the business work, so it's easy to justify working that much. But then your family suffers. The middle ground I have taken is that when things are slow I will spend extra time with the family or work on chores around the house that have been neglected. And when things are busy, I work hard to stop working by dinner time because my family needs me, and I need some down time. – R. Joseph Ritter, Zacchaeus Financial Counseling, Inc. 

Don’t be afraid to delegate.  Entrepreneurs always have “can do” personalities often coupled with a need to succeed and to do it now. Unfortunately, especially at the business start-up phase, this leads them to try to do everything themselves or to at least play a significant role on every aspect of the company, from handling clients to putting together annual financials. As the business grows this approach becomes less and less practical and crowds out the entrepreneur’s ability to cover all the bases. One of those bases is family time. The secret for getting past that stage is (a) hire the right people, e.g. competent, dedicated, trustworthy and then (b) delegate to those people; let them prove their worth. In most cases you’ll find you’ve hired people who are as capable as you are or who are at least acceptably capable. This then allows the entrepreneur to occasionally walk away from the business to enjoy family knowing things will not fall apart without you. – Daren Frick, Holiday Dental Inc. 

Focus on the truly important things that matter. First and foremost, your family. After all, that is why we work in the first place, to provide for ourselves and our families. Secondly, focus on what provides for yourself and your family, and that is the business. Understanding the time constraints of the family and business are unique to each Father and can only be solved by the individual. Cut out everything else that will take away time from both the family and business. – Nicholas Avery, One-Flag

When it comes to building your business, share the journey with your kids. Not only do you receive a fresh perspective and insight with no filter, but you also plant the seed for the next generation of innovation. – Jeff Stephens, CrazyDadLife.com

I once heard the line, Some men live to work. Other men work to live. I definitely think my paradigm has switch from the first to the latter. I work so I can have resources to live my life with my family. – Tamio Stehrenberger, Reve Tech

As a father of four (soon five!) with a full time business development job and a growing business on the side, it can be a huge challenge. You must invest in your spouse and children first, because they are who you do it for. You cannot juggle the demands of both if you neglect them, and I find it easier to put focus on my work and be effective when the family is well. – Chris Sloane, Heaviside Group

To the extent you can, leave your startup stress at the office, and cherish the time you have watching and helping your kids grow up. Both work and family are important parts of my life, and I've found if you sacrifice one for the other, neither is likely to thrive as well as it could. It's all about finding balance, and also a separation between the two. Trying to focus on both at one time is inefficient. It's better to designate time towards each, and then really be in the moment when you're there. Yoga helps too!  – Jon Cooper, LifeVest Health

The tip I can give to other people is to keep as much of a balance in your life between work and
family as possible. Do not let one side consume too much of your time. Consider your time as water and the people and responsibilities as a garden. They all need some time to flourish and grow.  – Buyar Hayrula, Bake Any Shape LLC

If you have a business that allows you to work from home, it is essential to create boundaries with your children so they understand that during certain parts of the day, they might see you at home, but you are unavailable to play with them until your work is done. Once your work is finished for the day, make sure to give your family your 100 percent attention before they go to bed. – Joshua Milne, Joshua Milne PR

Family first. I love what I do, our team here at BoomBoom Prints, and going to work every day. That being said, work will always be there and you don't want to miss out on all the fun stages your kids go through. – Brett Brohl, Boom Boom Prints

It's all about balance. If your family matters more than personal glory and becoming a billionaire then, accept that you'll never achieve the success of Steve Jobs because you can't devote yourself 24/7 to building your business. Day to day, your wife is always right and the kids come first, except when there's a critical meeting, event or project. Limit those critical times to a few days a month or a cumulative total of maybe 2-3 weeks a year. Find another job if everything is critical and you aren't able to give priority to everyone else in the family most of the time – unless, that is, your priority is business over family. – Mike Marks, Invention City

The biggest tip I have is to dedicate time each evening as “family time”.  For me that time is from 5:30-7:30. I try to leave my phone in another room and just disconnect for a couple hours for quality time with my daughter.  After she’s in bed I typically get a few more hours of work done. – Tim Segraves, Revaluate

Tip: when I'm working from my home office, I take a 10-minute break every hour or so to simply walk around and engage with my wife (a stay-at-home mom) and son. It is a great way to take a mental break, get out of the seated position, and bond with loved ones. – Jesse D. Jacoby, Emergent Consultants

Balancing your life is vital to being a dad entrepreneur. The best way is to power blockyour time. This is simply scheduling time out for your family during the day. It's vital thekids know they are more important then the business. However, the kids should really know they are scheduled in, but more its a spontaneous playtime. – Andy LaPointe, Traverse Bay

My tip to other entrepreneurs can be summed up in one word: Prioritize. Only once you have your priorities in order can you build a schedule that allow you to juggle all the balls required of a small business owner. Just as I prioritize tasks on my business schedule, I prioritize my family, social and work needs to make sure all get the attention I feel they need. – Sean Moore, SMART College Funding

Two tips: 1. It's your business and you own your schedule. Build a schedule that ensures you are always home for dinner. 2. Build routines that reinforce both family time and your time. For example, in fall and spring months, I walk my girls to school in running clothes, drop them off, check emails on my iPhone, then start my morning run right from the girls' school. – Peter Schuh, Show Mojo

I savor the time when work doesn't dominate my thought process. I coach my daughter's basketball team in my spare time, and when I'm on the court, I am 100% focused on my team. I distinctly remember driving to a game with my daughter, thinking about nothing but work issues that needed to be resolved. I told my daughter that I was going to have a tough time coaching that night. All of a sudden, it was an hour and a half later. The game was over. We had won. I hadn't thought about work once, and I remembered why it's so crucial to have activities that force me to take my mind off my job. – Mike Oeth, OnSIP

As an entrepreneur and a father, you have the choice to either pit these two roles against each other or to use them to strengthen each other – choose the latter. When I first started my business I was concerned that these two roles would be in major conflict, but what I have found is that my daughter energizes me to go to work every day and crush it. The desire to be present in both roles requires me to build greater efficiency in my business (which is great for everyone) and focus on processes and procedures that streamline the workload so that I (and my employees) can be present with family at home. – Matt Oscamou, Frontier Bites

So one of my tips would be to really think through your priorities because you just can’t do everything. What is really more important at a particular moment: answering that email or helping your child with their homework? It actually might be an incredibly important email that you do need to answer. It might also be an excuse not to do homework. – J. Michael Wheeler, CrowdNews, Inc 

What I do is take frequent breaks when they are home and then put in more working hours while they are at school and/or sleeping. Being self-employed gives me the flexibility to work around the kids schedules. It's not always a perfect balance when I have deadlines, but my wife and I try the best we can. – Jason Brietstein, Brand Elevater 

Tip: time being scarce, one of the hardest parts about being a creative, ideas-type of entrepreneur is knowing what to focus on and what to ignore. There's no formula for always getting it right; it just takes time and experience to get good at selecting wisely. Being a father helps hasten the learning process, because having those life-or-death stakes–I have to feed my family–has a way of sharpening your entrepreneurial senses. You simply get better at recognizing what's worth pursuing and what's not, because you know that if you choose wrongly, your family might pay for it. – Jon Colgan, Cell Breaker

I've set up a schedule of office hours, as well as a defined work space. If I'm in the work space during those hours, the
rest of the family is learning that I'm not available to make them lunch, drive them to the mall, or make a cup of hot chocolate. Daddy is working. – Nate, Zynali 

Don't let the stress of your start-up interfere with your relationship with your kids. Kids need their parents most when they are young. If the business is meant to succeed it will, it only needs time to find it's way. It's not a sprint, it's a journey. – Richard Barenblatt, Who Lends Here 

Make sure the time you spend with your children is worth every minute you are at the office. – Michael P. McQuillen, Financial Aid 4 Students

Build a company where your kids are your customers. I'm having so much fun building stuff where my daughter is the first one to try it out. She's our first line product designer, QA engineer, and reviewer. – Scott Lininger, Bitsbox

BE HOME AT 5 Seriously, before having a little 1 year old I would come home at 7, 8, and beyond, but now with a little mini-me running around without me all day long, I want to be there and share that time with her. – Chris Brisson, Call Loop 

The best advice I can give to any person who doesn't have a traditional 40 hour work week, is to have a schedule that allocates time to certain non-work related activities. This will ensure that you don't get to overworked or stressed during the weekdays. Also, while you should work a lot during the week you should try to take some weekends off. – Ian Aronovich, Government Auctions

Using services like ScheduleOnce or Calendly to block out family time vs. business time and using AwayFind to create intelligent auto-responders to emails are just two of the tools I've used to create boundaries that are very tough to cross  for anyone. I also make a point of journaling daily to keep my mind on all aspects of my life as well as keep moving things forward as both a father  and a businessman. – Mike Vardy, Productivityist

My secret to success? Your business is not the end goal. It is a vehicle to provide you and your family with the quality of life you want. More time, more freedom, and more memories. Don’t let your business hijack this from you. – Matt Hallisy, The Negotiator's Playbook 

I think he would say that because of his kids and the students he felt he needed to leave his job to do something to protect them. His passion, dedication and commitment to trying to save lives inspired him to walk away from a stable job and become an entrepreneur. I can get a quote from him, if you are interested in pursuing this story. – Jeff Green, SafeDefend 

 Balancing fatherhood while running a business is never easy. However, I found that if you can share the why part with your family members then the support you receive from the family members is stronger and very supportive. Entrepreneurship is not strictly work time and family time.  – Kenneth Springer, Hueyify

Define your roles – My wife and I have discussed and defined our roles in parenting, and so we have a schedule that allows me to take baths, tell stories, etc, with my boy. – Leo Lau, Joy Sprouts

It's important to set ground rules – agreed with your other half – well before the baby is born. As my wife works full-time and I'm self-employed, we decided that I would take part-time paternity (looking after our baby one day a week) once her paternity leave had ended. It was good to have this in mind months beforehand so that I could be careful about how much work I could take on, rather than making it a last-minute decision and having much less flexibility if I had taken on too much by that point. So far it's going well though! It took a while to get used to it – especially as a first-time dad – but I'm getting better at leaving the laptop switched off when I'm with him. When it's one of my paternity days then the little man comes first; the business comes second. – Steve Morgan, Morgan Online Marketing

Quote: Ultimately your work-life balance is in your hands. You, as the inventor and owner, can make the choice to spend time with your family, be in the garage inventing, or on the road selling your product. However, the huge benefit of being your own boss is that your calendar is flexible and under your control. For example, if you chose to work in the evenings after
the kids have gone to bed, you can, and then go to a dance class or little league game the next day. – Dan Masterson, Guardian Angel

Do you have a tip to share? If so, please leave a comment below.



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