In this week's episode, Jennifer tackles the topic of how to balance trying to grow your business, while you're also trying to grow your family. She gives listeners 7 tips to balance the struggle.
Hello and welcome back to the Women Rocking Real Estate Podcast, You’re listening to episode #17 and I’m your host Jen Percival.
I just want to thank everyone that sent me a DM on Instagram with questions and suggestions for upcoming episodes. Keep em coming. Tell me what you want to hear about and I will get it on the schedule.
Today’s episode is dedicated to Jessica who wanted to know my thoughts on how to balance starting and growing a family while also growing your real estate business. So I’m going to tackle that question along with another one I get asked all the time around how I’ve personally managed to balance family life and real estate.
As you’ve probably heard me say a few times in this podcast, I do have 4 kids and I did manage to build a pretty successful business, so I do think I’ve got some insight to shed on this topic. Now every time I talk about this stuff, for whatever reason I get people who decide it’s their place to judge me and decisions I’ve made. They decide without knowing me or my situation, that I have misguided priorities.
So here’s the deal, if you are a mom that stayed home with your kids and waited until they were all independent, before launching your real estate biz, I totally respect that. Like totally respect It.
Honestly I wish I could have been that kind of mom, but for whatever reason, I’m just not and I’ve accepted that. So if you’re going to feel judgment towards that, then this episode is not for you. It’s probably better if you just switch to another podcast for today and leave this one alone. Because in this episode, we are going to check all mommy guilt and all judgment at the door. Deal? Great.
Ok so today I’m going to give you my 7 tips for balancing family and work.
My first piece of advice is to have kids while you can. Your career will adjust. If having children or another child is important to you, don’t ever let your real estate career stand in your way. I am living proof that you can make it work. But you won’t always have the chance to have kids. The door closes and we never know when that’s going to happen. The lovely thing about working in real estate though, is that you can do it until you’re an old bitty. There is no expiry date on real estate agents, so take advantage of your fertile years and make that the priority.
When I got into this business, I had a 1 year old and a 2.5 year old. I now have a 14 yr old, a 13 yr old, an 11 yr old and a whoops 7 year old. My husband claims that our last one was totally planned, he just didn’t involve me in the plans. But I always joke that he was the best whoops I ever could have made.
Was it always easy? Heck no.
It was hell at times. But it’s kinda like labour, I don’t know you forget the bad times, they kinda become comical in hindsight. I had two particularly bad years in my career with respect to managing family life.
I can’t remember if I have shared the story of how I got into real estate in past episodes, but For the first 6 months, the market had completely crashed so there was nothing going on and I had 2 kids at the time and like I said they were 1 and 2.5 and they were at home with me, but about half way through the year, my business took off and I went from twiddling my thumbs to having a pretty busy business. I couldn’t manage things with two little kids at home, so I put them in daycare initially, but found really quickly that I wasn’t getting to see them at all. They’d be gone all day and when they came home, I’d be out the door for appointments. So after a few months of that, we decided that getting a live in nanny was probably a better option.
The problem was that our house didn’t have the space to accommodate a live-in nanny and a home office, so we decided to make the leap and upgrade our house. As a side note by the way, when I first got into the business, I had created a vision board of all the things I dreamed about and one of them was a beautiful new house. Well sure enough, we found the house of my dreams and moved in right about the time I’d been in the business for a year. It had a perfect suite in the basement for our nanny and I had a beautiful main floor corner office. I had hit the jackpot and life was great….until it wasn’t. 3 months later my husband and I got divorced.
I’m not going to lie, the year that followed was pretty much a black hole. I literally don’t have many memories, but I do remember being terrified that I was going to go bankrupt. I didn’t want to move my kids after they’d been through so much, so I bought the house from him and took on the crazy mortgage on my own. It was a really tough year and I worked a lot. Like 18 hours a day, but I somehow found a way to make it work.
Which brings me to Tip # 2 - when you work in real estate you need to re-frame how you view parenting and the time you spend with your kids.
Yes we had a live-in nanny, but I walked my son to school every day and made a point to be home at lunch. But I worked in between. Then I’d often pick him up from school and hang out for awhile before heading out for appointments. I certainly missed a lot of bedtime routines, but I usually managed to make up for it during the day.
Where I’m going with this, is that you have to look at your time with your kids overall. Lots of parents drop their kids off in the morning and then don’t see them until dinner and get a few hours then. For us, although we often have appointments during the evenings, we can see our kids during the day a bit more than regular working people can. So when you’re looking at your time with your kids, keep it in perspective. Don’t just focus on the time you miss in the evenings or on the weekends, if you’re making up for it during the day.
And I always say quality over quantity. My kids would all go bananas with excitement when I would volunteer on a school trip. I cannot exaggerate how much I hated volunteering on school trips, they are exhausting, but they always got me a huge return on investment with the kids. They perceived that time as way more valuable, than regular time together, so despite hating them, I tried to go when the kids were young. So if there’s things that your kids place high value on that you can make work, do it and then don’t feel so guilty about the other times.
Speaking of the other times though, when you structure your days like this where you’re kind of switching back and forth between working and parenting, you need to be incredibly intentional around being 100% productive when you are working. You need to make sure that you’re all in during the hours when you’re not with the kids. This is not the time to get sucked into the google vortex or mindlessly scrolling on instagram. You need to have an action plan for everyday with clearly defined objectives of what you want to accomplish to move your business forward.
So tip #2 was to reframe how you view parenting and the time you spend with your kids.
Tip #3 - Is that at some stage you’re going to need child care. As soon as you can afford child-care, I highly encourage you to get some.
For me personally, having a nanny was really critical. I liked that my kids were home with her and I could see them whenever I wanted, but I could retreat to my office when needed. Our nanny - Eva is her name was with us for almost 8 years in total and I’d be lying if I said I could’ve done it without her. Even though she lived with us in the early years, she didn’t always start in the mornings, some days she’d start at lunch and worked until 8pm as an example. She was really flexible with her time which was super helpful.
However the year that my youngest child was born - btw I did remarry and our family grew by 2 more kids, she met someone and moved out….and as Murphy’s law would have it, my husband got transferred across the country on a project for work that same year. So I was back to being solo mom from Sunday night to Thursday every week, but this time with 4 kids - and no live-in nanny. That was another year that’s a big blur. I’ll put a picture I posted on Facebook one morning on my website for you to get the picture of what I was dealing with - they were all really little kids still.
But you know what, somehow I survived and so did my business. It definitely declined that year, but I rebounded the next. If you want to build a thriving real estate business and have a family at the same time, you are going to have to make compromises ok? That’s just the reality of life. One of the compromises you will likely have to make is around money and that’s usually in the form of leverage and that is tip # 4.
You’re going to need to re-invest some of the money you make, back into systems, processes and people to free up more of your time. We often hear about leveraging stuff on the work front by getting an assistant or a buyer’s agent or building a team and I’m going to save that topic for another episode. But we don’t talk enough about how to also leverage things on the home front and that can have a huge impact on your ability to manage everything. You really need to pay attention around how you’re spending your time, on things that could easily be outsourced - especially at home. I do not grocery shop anymore at all. I have a recurring order and all our groceries get delivered. Do you know how much time that saves? Driving to the grocery store, finding a parking spot, getting a cart, going up and down the aisles, waiting in line to pay, loading all the groceries into your car, driving back home, unloading all the groceries into the house. Vs. Door bell rings, open door, put food in fridge. It costs me $10 a week. Is your time not worth more than $10 an hour? I also use a meal service called Chef’s Plate for 3 dinners a week. You still cook the food, but there’s no planning, very little prep and bonus, my kids have tried so many meals I never would have thought of before.
We often spend a lot of time doing mundane domestic things without having any awareness of how much time it monopolizes. I talked about this in one of my Morning Motivation Videos on Instagram recently that one of the keys to being super productive with your time, is to become aware of how you spend it first. So spend a week or 2 documenting how you spend your time - there’s an app you can use called Toggl to track it - you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to actually recoup 2 hours a day when you get intentional about it. And do you know how much you can accomplish when you add up 2 hours a day over the course of a year?? A helluva lot!
So tip # 4 was to use leverage both at work, and at home and to outsource everything that you can afford to, that doesn’t spark joy. I also recommend you go back and listen to episode #15 to figure out what those activities are that fall into your zone of incompetence.
Alright moving along to tip #5. One of the things that really got me through many years, was having a business partner. If you’ve got a good business going and you’ve got young kids, having a partner can be one of the compromises that you make to manage it all. Obviously there are challenges and you need to be very careful about who you partner with and how you set the partnership up, but it can be a great way to balance things during the tough years. If you haven’t listened to episode #7 I suggest you go back and check it out. I talk all about the pros and cons of having a successful partnership and how to set one up.
Tip # 6 - you own your time. We all get the same 24 hours in a day and you do get to decide how you spend it. It’s never about having the time. It’s about making the time. Everything you do, you choose and at the end of the day, you can make time for what matters the most. The more aware and intentional you are about your time, the more productive you’ll be. Every choice you make has a price. Everything you say yes to, means you’re saying no to something else. That means that each time you pick up your brain-draining phone and say yes to watching another dog video, you’re saying nope to ever reaching your biggest and most important goals.
So take full ownership and responsibility for the choices you make about how you spend your time. Challenge deeply held assumptions about how you’ve constructed your life. You may need to find ways to be more effective in less time, you may need to rebalance responsibilities or set boundaries.
Remember every choice you make is saying yes to that and no to something else. You can’t do everything, so prioritize what’s important to you and then take ownership of the choices that you make and the consequence of those choices. The best way to do all of that is to own your calendar. I say this all the time. Do not let your clients dictate your time. I was guilty of this for so long. Anytime I got a request for an appointment I’d drop everything I was doing to run out and help. They call that being a pop-tart agent. I just hated saying no to people. I always wanted to be available whenever they needed and I ended up working 7 days a week, crazy hours a day and going months and months on end without a single day off. It was crazy and my health and family started suffering.
What I discovered a few years ago though is that there is an easy way to still own your calendar and your time, but NOT have to say no to people. So tip #6 is to use an appointment booking system. Train your clients to book appointments directly into your calendar. Let them find a slot that works for them around your schedule. This forces you to be super intentional about your time and planning. It also allows you to prioritize your family and schedule in your kids programs, etc. into your calendar every week. As long as you have a few evenings available and one day on the weekend, most clients will not bat an eye. Then put a link to your calendar everywhere - in your email signature, on your website, on your social media pages. Whenever someone tries to contact you directly to book an appointment, send them the link to your calendar. Now of course sometimes there’s going to be exceptions, but if you train them properly, they will start feeling guilty if they’re asking you to make these exceptions all the time.
Alright just to recap my top 7 tips for balancing work and family
Tip # 1 was to have kids while you can, your career will adjust
Tip #2 was to reframe how you view parenting and the time you spend with your kids.
Tip #3 was to arrange child care as soon as it makes sense
Tip #4 was to use leverage and outsource everything you can afford to that doesn’t spark joy.
Tip # 5 was to consider taking on a business partner
Tip # 6 was to take full responsibility of your time and your calendar
And lastly tip #7 is to say no to mommy guilt. I have spent enough time feeling guilty in the last 14 years. And then I felt guilty worrying that I wasn’t feeling guilty enough. It was like guilt layered on top of guilt. Enough already.
You see there’s regular mommy guilt for working a lot, but there’s a whole different breed of guilt that comes when you choose to work, instead of choosing to be home with your kids and that guilt is a doozy.
I personally spent so many years wondering why I had all these children if I didn’t want to be a stay at home mom. At times that guilt was so bad that I questioned whether I even deserved to be a mom and that was horrible.
So I consciously try to say no to that guilt. It doesn’t make me a bad mother that I want to work. It makes me a bad mom when I yell at my kids and I do do that sometimes, but not because I want to work.
The way I see it, for all the ways I’m screwing my kids up by working, I have to remind myself that I’m also teaching them the value of a strong work ethic and what it means to have grit and perseverance and resilience. I’m emulating what it takes to be successful and I know those are great life skills. So I can only hope that it all balances out in the end.
I also feel like we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to find this mythical work/life balance unicorn, which I don’t think actually exists. For me it actually only ever becomes an issue, when I’m resenting what I’m working on.
When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. So if your life starts to feel out of balance, it’s usually because you’re not liking something about what you’re doing. So when you start feeling that, it’s a sign that you need to re-evaluate your business and find ways to re-focus your energy and look at how you spend your time to kind of spark joy again.
Alright ladies that is it for this episode, I hope you enjoyed it. Remember if you’ve got a question you’d like me to tackle, make sure you check out the Ask Me highlight on my Instagram page and while you’re there, join me for my 66 day challenge to create a habit of being motivated. I post daily videos, so tune in if you need a pick me up in the morning.
I will see you next week and remember, the more you learn the more you’ll earn.
Until next time!