If you don’t know John Saddington, entrepreneur, software engineer, indie developer, and family man, you need to stop right now and go read his blog. The whole thing. I’ll wait.
Ok, now that you’re back, 🙂 I hope you read his most recent post on this topic. I have a huge amount of respect for John. I was super excited that I was moving to Atlanta, knowing that he was in this great city. But shortly before I moved, he up and moved his own family (I don’t hold it against you, John). While I still hope that one day we can grab a beverage and chat, I continue to follow him digitally via his blog.
After reading his post on family and side projects, I thought about my own recent experiences with balancing my full time job developing websites and applications using WordPress, spending time with my wife and two girls, and working on my upcoming product, Mission Plannr, I figured I’d offer some feedback.
While I wholeheartedly agree with John’s sentiment of not being perfect and still trying to figure this thing out, I do think there are some good principles and practices that can be helpful.
Be there when it matters
There are key events in your family’s life that matter. Birthdays. School events. Anniversaries. Holidays. While this doesn’t mean you will or have to make every one, being there when it’s important not only makes your family happy, it builds trust and deepens the relationship. This isn’t just pertaining to side projects either. Sometimes you have to step away from full time work to put family first.
Be there everyday
While this isn’t for everyone or every situation, I make the effort to spend some sort of time with my kids and my wife everyday. Usually, this means pausing when they arrive home, eating dinner and helping get the kids washed up and put to bed. Then my wife and I spend a few minutes chatting about our days and the next few days. Then I usually return to working on side projects. While exceptions are made, this allows me to be present, be a parent, and be an influence on my children daily. A reminder that I love them, daily. The one time this doesn’t work physically is when I travel for work or to conferences. While I don’t do this too often, when I do I make sure to video chat at least once a day with all of them.
What about you? How do you handle family, work, side projects and all the other things that compose our lives? I’d love to hear your thoughts.