I was five years into starting and running iThemes when I added a new title to my resume: Dad.
Being an entrepreneur and a father is a very interesting combination. It brought up new issues, challenges and questions for me. In fact, it was one of the questions I went to my business group about before our first child was born, as many of them were already fathers and entrepreneurs.
My friend Ben Welch-bolen (and new father) has started a great new site called Entrepreneur Parents to share advice and experiences for those of us who are both. He asked me to chime in and I gave two answers, which you can also read here, but I wanted to share my thoughts to the questions here as well, so here goes:
With kid(s) and a business, what do you do to maintain your relationship with your spouse?
This has been our biggest struggle — simply making time for each other.
We quickly realized, no matter the cost, we had to do weekly dates. We found early on that night time dates (especially with infants) did not work well for us. We’d end up falling asleep on the date.
So now we do Day Dates, typically on Saturdays.
We can tell the difference when we skip a Day Date or simply don’t get one for a week or two. And continue to realize that it’s an investment in US, and we know the better we are together, the better we are for our children.
Plus, my mentor warned me …. we spend 18+ years raising kids and all the time-consuming activities and focus that includes … then one day they are gone, and we’re left with an empty house and a stranger.
We heeded that warning.
By the way, one huge benefit of having a physical office is we use it to get sushi and wine for lunch, watch movies, and talk on a couch while our kids are under the care of someone else at home. In the past, we would bounce around to different restaurants or places and spent more time, energy and money wandering like nomads than sitting and talking and enjoying quality time with each other. We still go out, but we know we have another “home base” to go to, something many others don’t have the benefit of.
What is the #1 piece of advice you would give an entrepreneur who is about to be a parent on how to balance those two worlds?
When I became a father, my business (my first baby) was in a good place. I tell people my busiess is now in kindergarten and under “adult supervision.” So the timing was really good to be able to focus less time and energy on my business than I did in the startup years and to shift that focus more to my children and family for a nice balance.
I have more time and energy constraints now as an entrepreneur and father, which I think is actually a very good thing. I have obsessive and workaholic tendencies and now I simply can’t (or won’t) do the things I did in the beginning, which gives me such a better perspective on life.
I’ve been able to focus on empowering and mentoring others in the business to do some of the things I frankly shouldn’t have been doing. I prioritize my time and energy so much better now.
The biggest thing I struggle with now is taking off my CEO hat when I get in the door at night and putting on the “Daddy” hat. It’s been a frustrating struggle, honestly. I’ve spent so much of the last 9 years being the leader, the one people look to, working with a team of adults and professionals, being able to give direction and know it’ll be done, that I have to reset my mindset when I’m home. I’m so much more of a caregiver, a teacher, a listener at home, but it’s also helped with business.
Patience is truly a virtue. And one I’m continually working on.
Go share your thoughts over at Entrepreneur Parents too!