As a father of three, I often come back to a phrase I once heard. “In life, there are rubber balls and glass balls and you are always juggling.”

2016-12 Doing it for the kids

As a father of three, I often come back to a phrase I once heard. “In life, there are rubber balls and glass balls and you are always juggling.”

The rubber ones are the things that bounce: that work project, for example, that will still be there tomorrow if you plan in advance. But the glass ones — your family, say — are precious. You can’t drop them. Of course, what’s rubber and what’s glass can shift according to circumstance. You might have to put your family to one side for a day or two while a big project becomes precious too. The only person who controls that is you – you get to set what matters.

That’s not always easy in traditional employment. But Australian parents finding ways to make business work to their advantage. According to a new study, more and more Australian parents are being drawn to small business ownership – becoming their own boss so they don’t have to sacrifice family time for work.

The soccer match vs. the career

As a dad myself, I know the last choice any parent wants to make is whether they can watch their children’s soccer games versus having a career.

That’s why I loved reading through the results of Xero’s Working Parents survey, which revealed the flexibility that small business owners are creating for themselves. This summer, for example, small business owners in this country will take an average of three weeks off work to spend with their kids. That’s a whole week extra than their peers who are employed by someone else.

Here are some of the other key findings:

  • Parents who work for someone else are more likely than those who own their own business to say childcare arrangements (21% vs. 14%) cause them stress over the summer holidays.
  • Most parents who run their own business (94%) say they now spend more time with their children than they did before.
  • The vast majority of parents who run their own business (94%) say they spend more quality time with their children now than they did in their previous jobs.
  • Most parents (64%) say they would consider starting their own venture in order to have more time to spend with their family and have flexibility to fit in with their kids’ schedule (64%).

Doing it for the kids

Those numbers equate to real families. We chatted to Xero customer Christy Hind – mum-of-one and owner of boutique babywear brand Little Maggie Moo, for example – to hear why she made the decision to start running a business once she got a sense of the extra time it gave her with her daughter, Maggie.

“What originally started as a creative outlet quickly turned into a money-making venture – especially once I got a grasp on what it meant for Maggie,” she told us. “Unlike my previous 9am – 5pm job, doing my own thing gives me the freedom to make work fit around my daughter’s schedule and gives me more quality time with her – I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“From payroll to invoicing, I can comfortably run Little Maggie Moo from my mobile which gives me the flexibility to take a longer holiday over the Christmas period when Maggie is home, or go along to her after-school activities without work needing to be put on hold. This really helps alleviate the stress of making childcare arrangements – not just over summer but all year round.”

Happy holidays

In today’s digital age, work-life integration has never been more achievable. Almost three quarters of parents with their own business (74%) say they are able to work remotely more often now than in the past due to cloud tools and technologies.

That empowerment really means something to me – because I know our children are only small for such a period of time. I turn around now and see my almost 15 year-old daughter and wonder where the time went. We all need that time to push our children on a wave or play a few rounds of beach cricket. Those moments are like precious glass.

I hope you all enjoy the summer holidays and find some time to celebrate exactly how you want. I know where I’ll be – down the beach, playing cricket with my son.

Photo credit: Little Maggie Moo.