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Guilt Trip, but Who’s the Jury?

2016 November 14
by Annie Wallace

When you are running a home, family, looking after children and running your own business at the same time…well, there are some tough choices to be made sometimes.

As a man, I am not supposed to be as good at multi-tasking as women.  Yup that sums it up.  How do you do it?

As a single dad, I experience what single working mums and many mums with partners experience.  Guilt.

I feel guilty when I don’t pay my daughter the attention she demands, I feel guilty when I notice the layer of dust on the mantelpiece, I feel guilty when I see this morning’s breakfast dishes still in the sink at dinner time and I feel guilty when I am not at my computer or on the phone to a client.

What should we do about these feelings of guilt.  There seem to be two course of action.

Direction #1 – find a Birch tree, cut a low hanging, whippy branch, cut near the trunk…you got it, reach over your shoulder with it and beat until you draw blood.

Direction #2 – get over it!

Let’s go with Direction #2.

Step #1 – I think it is about separating out the tasks, establishing whatever method works for you, and developing the ability to work within the new boundaries.

Let me give two quick examples.

My business partner, Theresa, happens to have a great garden shed, converted into an office.  Her children are teens so do not need the attention of a toddler of course, but the office means, although she works from home, the physical separation from the house assists with the psychological need.

I separate the tasks with an iron will (except when my daughter asks for help with homework, then the will is more like putty), but also a differentiation of ToDo lists and reminder systems.  One cork board for work, one for kitchen.  A notebook for home ideas and thoughts, a separate notebook for business initiatives and goals.

Step #2 – allocate a balance of time.

Obviously, if you are looking after a baby or toddler, the allocation needs to be very flexible and revolves largely around the little person’s timing.  School hours start to make this easier.

But the amount of time and when, you allocate to business, must be what you decide and are most comfortable with.

If you are good at multi-tasking, there will be times when, with baby on hip, one hand is making dinner, while gripping the phone to a client, with your shoulder.  I know it doesn’t sound particularly business like, when the phone slips into the Bolognese sauce…

(I talk more about multi-tasking in my article “Ketchup and calls” here.)

Find your own balance and then, je ne regrette rien (simply put, no regrets)!  This is the hard part.

Step #3 – When the guilt rushes over you, say to yourself “my decision, my balance”.

The final thing to remember is, there will be no compromise when it comes to your children, so if your life does not allow you a huge amount of time for your business, it is what it is.  Don’t beat yourself up for not creating miracles everyday in your business, you are creating a miracle with your children.

cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by Skley

2 Responses leave one →
  1. November 14, 2011

    Really enjoyed this. So So True. Its all about balance. Ensuring you can be happy with the decisions you are making.

  2. November 15, 2011

    It’s such a relief to know that dads have to work through the ‘guilts’ as well! To me your article suggests that its all about building boundaries around your time, working/home spaces and your emotions…This, I can do!
    Great post!

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