I’ve been asked numerous times to write about balancing parenting and starting a practice. I kept nodding my head and put check marks next to it on my “Blog Post Ideas” doc and skipping over it every time it came time to write.
I’ve been avoiding this post hard core.
Know why? Shame. Honestly, I was letting my perfectionism dwell in the realm of parenting and feeling completely inadequate all the time. I’d read too much conflicting advice that all seemed to make logical sense. And the “follow your instincts” thing was super-confusing. As a certifiable non-kid person who loves and adores my two kids but would rather stab forks in my eyes than play blocks for a second hour AND who wants to protect them from anything and everything- I felt like my instincts said: “be a disinterested helicopter parent.”
Who was I to tell those of you who are parents, and probably winning awards as parents due to your impressive knowledge of developmental psych how to do these two things? I threw developmental psych out the window as soon as I passed the licensure exam. #nonkidperson
Wait for the but…
But I’m busting through the shame and offering a few things I’ve learned along the way through both personal experience and the experience of my consulting clients…
We are far more likely to get irritated if we’re multi-tasking. Having clear boundaries between work and home isn’t just good for our own self care; it’s important for our childcare, too. If I’m cranking out an email real quick or fixing a WordPress snafu, I get more frustrated when Adair spills her milk or June won’t go down for a nap in a way that I wouldn’t normally if I’m focused on them instead of work.
We are role models. I actually let this sink in after talking with a consulting client about what kind of strength, tenacity, and bravery she was modeling for her kids. I was like, “Oh yeah, me too!” Having successful business owners in our families shows us what’s possible. The Abundance Practice-Building Group members who had business-owning family members seem to have fewer hang-ups about whether or not they could build a successful business. Hey, maybe that’s a budding entrepreneur you’re tucking in at night!
So, we need to model well. To that end, be intentional in how you talk about your work in front of your kids. Let them know they’re your priority and that work helps support all the great things you get to do together. Tell them what you do and why you like it in age appropriate ways. My 4 year old could tell you that I have clients who are sad and I help make them happy. The ACT training in me flairs up a bit as I write that, but “I help people understand that all feelings are acceptable and we come up with healthy ways to deal with the ones they find intolerable” made her glaze over. Regarding the business side, I hope my daughters never have anything to do with the word “hustle” unless they’re bringing back the dance move, a la John Travolta. I don’t use that language or anything related to it in front of them. Though I’m not always the best model for balance, I don’t glamorize the concept of work.
Your schedule needs to work for your family first. The scarcity stuff that comes up when we start our businesses has us assuming we have to work in the evenings or weekends. If that isn’t the best fit for your family, please keep recognizing that as scarcity thinking and work when you want. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had people say “You’ve said this a million times, but I just changed my schedule and you’re totally right! Clients will come during the day!” Yes, even couples, yes even kids (though that’s trickier).
There is no better job for parents than private practice. I don’t know of any other jobs where you can work 3 or 4 days a week during typical work hours, come home to your family, provide for them handsomely, feel like you still have energy left, and feel good about what you’re doing. Yes, I’m totally projecting here, but I think a lot of you feel me. I’ve had a few dads in Group who have talked about finding that balance of wanting to provide for their families 1950’s-style while also wanting to be an active part of their kids’ development 2017-style. Private practice has allowed them to do that.
Being the best me I can be and the best parent I can be.
Being in business for myself allows me to set whatever hours work best for my family. When Adair was going through a rough patch last year I left work early so we could have more 1:1 time. I could run home and nurse June instead of hooking up to the dreaded pump. In Seattle, I worked Monday through Wednesday [8:00]-[5:00] and spent the rest of the time acclimating to new motherhood, meeting up for play dates, and having fun.
I am thankful every single day that I chose private practice. That I get to do meaningful, life-changing work and I don’t have to sacrifice my priorities to do so.
I also wanted to say a public thank you to Mercedes Samudio, whose book Shame Proof Parenting was helpful in me showing up, being real, and letting go of the perfection nonsense.
What about you? How have you been balancing the private practice/parenting thing? Let us know in the comments!
Allison Puryear is an LCSW with a nearly diagnosable obsession with business development. She has started practices in three different states and wants you to know that building a private practice is shockingly doable when you have a plan and support. You can download a free private practice checklist to make sure you have your ducks in a row, get weekly private practice tips, listen to the podcast, hop into the free Facebook Group, and get help from Allison and a small group of new, close friends in Abundance Practice-Building Group. Allison is all about helping you gaining the confidence and tools you need to succeed.