As we spend our June focusing on creating balance in our lives, we have to touch on that one topic that planners everywhere have a love/hate relationship with: balancing parenthood and and wedding planning. It’s such a touchy topic, and there are no right answers. A childless planner is nearly always overworked, just as a parent who isn’t a planner is nearly always overworked. So, needless to say, when you put the two together you get a whole lot of overworking going on (and not very much sleep). Today, then, we wanted to break down some thoughts on balancing parenthood and planning.
One of the best pieces of advice I can offer as both a mom and a wedding planner is to establish clear boundaries with your clients right from the get-go, no matter how hard that may be. You have to clearly communicate exactly what it is you’re willing and not willing to do as their planner. If Sundays are your family day, your clients need to know this—don’t be shy about it and certainly don’t make apologies for it. Make it clear that, on Sundays, you won’t be able to answer any phone calls, texts or emails. Ask nicely that your clients not reach out at all on Sundays except in the case of an extreme emergency (and clearly define what “emergency” means).
Set Your Hours & Stay on Top of Your Calendar
Along with establishing clear boundaries, you need to set specific hours that you are (and are not) willing to meet. Many of your clients may work 9-5, which means they’ll need night or weekend meetings. You need to know, right from the beginning, which nights you can and can not meet. Try choosing two nights each week that you’re willing to meet after 5 pm. Then, let your clients know that, unless you have something come up, you’ll be able to meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-7, for example. Try your best to not stray from this, as you don’t want to make an exception once and set a precedent that you’re willing to cut into family time for client meetings, as this can snowball quickly.
For regularly scheduled, recurring family activities (like soccer practice or piano lessons), you’ll know, months in advance, which nights you can and can not meet. Other things (like recitals or school plays) won’t come up until about a month in advance. To stay on top of these instances, I recommend sitting down at the end of each month, going over your calendar for the upcoming month and emailing your clients with a quick bullet-point breakdown of your availability for that upcoming month. If you’re willing to meet on weekends (which we often have to do as planners), choose 1-2 weekends that work for you and include those on your list as well. Always ask that meetings be established 1-2 weeks in advance—the further ahead of your calendar you can get, the better.
Come up with Creative Solutions
Not every meeting has to be in person or an hour long. If you’re open to it, recommend a Facetime or Skype meeting that you can take from home while your partner or someone else watches the kiddos. Have a designated space at home where you can close the door for “mommy or daddy work time.” Again, though, these should only be scheduled during those hours you established for yourself. You don’t want to get into a pattern of clients unexpectedly Facetiming you. For clients that work 9-5, you can also try recommending lunch-hour meetings whenever possible.
One of the hardest parts of being a parent and a planner (which is true for any working parent, I’m sure) is the constant judgment and comparison we’re surrounded with. Comparing yourself to others is SO tempting—especially in this day and age when all we have to do to see how amazing everyone else is at parenting is open Instagram or Facebook. Remember: Comparison is the killer of joy. It’s easier said than done, but free yourself from social-media comparison and self-criticism.
Oftentimes, not knowing what other people are doing is the best option. If you find yourself constantly feeling bad after perusing other parents’ accounts, try going on a social-media cleanse for a month. Remember, what you do in your home and with your business is what’s important. Turn your focus inward, rather than outward, and you’ll find you’re so much happier and more balanced.
Overall, there are no tricks or shortcuts to balancing parenthood and planning. It all comes from knowing your boundaries, knowing what you’re willing (and not willing) to do and coming up with creative solutions. Every working parent out there is doing his or her best to balance two very different worlds—know that you’re not the only one and, also, remind yourself that no one’s life is as picture-perfect as it may look on a screen.