My kid turned 18 months old recently (if you can “turn” 18 months old) and I seriously can’t believe where the time has gone… And in other ways I can.
During the early days I heard a saying that “the days are long, but the months and years are short” and it is so very, very true.
While I’m always cynical about people who have a kid and then become an Online Expert About All Things Kid, I can’t help but draw comparisons between my own experiences being a new mum and very small business person.
This is a very self-indulgent post, but I hope it can also offer you some value, whether you are a business owner, parent, or both.
1. Most of life is not life and death
I hadn’t had much experience with newborns, and so was very delicate with Master M (as I should be). But as he grew, I soon learnt that he is very durable.
While there are some very real dangers in the world, we are fortunate to not have experienced them. I am also now more comfortable knowing that if the temperature in his bedroom is not exactly 18 degrees Celsius overnight, he will be fine.
This resonates with me in a work sense as well.
While I hold my clients and their businesses in the utmost respect, we are not in the business of saving lives.
We all do our very best, but sometimes you have to put work and life into perspective.
2. The best way to teach someone to do something is to do it yourself
A few months ago we realised that Master M wasn’t comfortable with sand pits.
He would sit next to the sand pit, and play with the toys, but didn’t like to get in it.
We encouraged him to for a few days, until I realised that why would he want to get into a thing that we weren’t in!? So we got in there, showed him it was safe and fun, and he followed.
We all have different learning styles, but if you’re trying to run a business, or lead a team, and want your team to do certain things, it is far better for them to see you “walking the walk” than just “talking the talk”.
In saying this, we also hire people to do things so we don’t have to, so it’s not relevant in all situations, but one I see regularly is business owners and leaders who want their team to be active on social media, or contribute content updates to share on their marketing, but don’t do it themselves.
If you want your team to play in the sand pit – get in the sand pit with them!
3. Support is amazing
If people offer you help, take it. If you don’t need it right away, let them know you’ll take them up on their offer when you need it.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you can afford it, pay for help. A cleaner, Virtual Assistant, meals, bookkeeper. Whatever helps you, your family, your business.
Thank people for their support.
And offer your support to others when you can.
4. Naps, snack and hugs solve many problems
This doesn’t just apply to babies and toddlers, but us grown ups too.
5. If something gets a reaction, keep doing it
Master M learnt very quickly that if something he did got a reaction from us, he would keep doing it.
It might be playing peekaboo, or climbing on the table… but we try to encourage the positive things more than the potentially dangerous things.
This applies to marketing as well. If one of your marketing initiatives getsa good response, try to identify the root cause and keep doing it. It might be a blog post that attracted a lot of traffic and
enquiries, a Facebook post that generated strong reach and engagement, or an email campaign that generated sales.
6. Time out is important
Again, this goes for kids and adults. Don’t hesitate to put yourself in time out if you need.
Turn off the phone, close the door, put in ear plugs, run a bath. Whatever you need.
7. Read (and re read)
Master M didn’t really become interested in books until he was about one, but since then he has been a book fiend! And he definitely has his favourites.
I read 3 books with him before bed each night, and some nights the 3 books is the same book 3 times… this is sometimes tedious, but also valuable. Not only for the joy it brings him, but the new things I take from it (sometimes).
In business, take time for your own reading. Whether it’s a fiction book or magazine to unwind and switch off, or business book or blog to expand your thinking.
8. Big things are usually little
Sometimes it’s the teensiest little scratch or bump that gets the biggest reaction out of Master M.
Now that he’s older he’s getting better at putting them into perspective, and I try to apply this to other areas of my life as well.
In many situations we (and others) make a big deal out of things that really are quite inconsequential. Remember, most of life isn’t life and death, so don’t waste time on those inconsequential little things (and people).
9. Little things are actually big
Like I said, I hadn’t spent much consistent time around babies before Master M, so I hadn’t been exposed to their rapid growth and development.
We’re at the age now where nearly every day there is a new little thing that he has learnt, or says and does.
They are little things really (like realising he understands the word “shoes” and toddles off to get his when I ask him where they are) but to us, they are HUGE!
The same goes for little business and professional development changes.
You don’t have to make a big song and dance about it, but if you catch yourself doing something much more easily than you used to – congratulate yourself!
10. Slow down
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” ~ Ferris Bueller
Life. Moves. So. Freaking. Fast.
So slow down and enjoy it.
Unless it is really a matter of life and death, don’t worry if you’re going to be a bit late.
Take a breath, look around and soak it all in.
11. Don’t listen to others
When you have either a business or a baby (or both) people want to tell you what you should do.
You don’t have to listen to them.
And if you do, you don’t have to do what they say.
12. Sometimes listen to others
Some people have some really good advice.
Be discerning about who you listen to, and what you take on board, and act on.
13. Sleep is good
Oh man, it’s the freaking bomb!
I agree with a friend who got annoyed with people telling her before the birth of her son: “catch up on your sleep now!” because it really is a stupid thing to say.
You can’t stockpile sleep. But you can appreciate it.
Beautiful. Uninterrupted. Sleep.
14. Things change quickly, it’s easy to forget where you’ve come from
Yes it’s good to not dwell too much on the past, and to enjoy the present. But we often keep moving our bar to where we are right now, and forgetting how much we have developed and grown.
In my early “mum” days, it was a feat to leave the house with Master M in tow. Now it’s second nature (though there can also be a lot of “where are your shoes?” “where are MY shoes!?” “where are the keys!?”)
It is the same with business as well. I love talking to people who are starting out in their own businesses, as it reminds me that I have come a long way, and I’m doing pretty well dammit!
15. Look at things from a different perspective
Some where in our late teens, most of us stop getting taller. And we quickly become accustomed to our height, and our view from it.
Master M is less than half my height, and I sometimes forget that he can’t see what I can see.
I also can’t see what he can see. So I try to regularly get down to his level, and take a look around.
I try really hard to do this in business as well. We can get stuck in our perspective and our viewpoint.
It’s difficult, but do try to see things from another’s point of view.
Your staff, your client, your supplier. Get down (or up) to their level, and try to see things how they are seeing them.
You may be surprised.
16. Trust your instincts
I was fortunate to have the support of a very wise midwife in the early months of being a mum. I sought her advice a lot, and she had the patience and insight to turn it around on me and ask me what I thought I should do.
And I was generally right.
I often have similar experiences in business. The times when I have ignored my instinct (about a project, or client) I’ve usually regretted it.
It takes time to develop this habit.
Listen out for that tiny voice and take its advice on board.
The more you do, the more confident it gets.
17. Just do your best
When I told my GP I was pregnant, he warned me that everyone would tell me what I should do, but he still wanted to offer 3 pieces of advice:
- You are the parents, you do what you want to do
- Good enough is good enough
- Parenting is pretty much like the movie Parenthood
It’s the second one I want to focus on: Good enough is good enough.
Like the Scout motto, we should all just try to do our best. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Good is enough.
18. Sleep is really really good
It really, really is.
Photo by Kate Potter. She is awesome, and has been (and still is) an incredible support for me.0