Every day, we all have to wear a variety of hats: coach, local expert, friend, sibling, boss, entrepreneur, teacher. But over the past few weeks, we’ve all had to wear all of those hats – often all at once. If you’ve found yourself overwhelmed as you work to keep up the balancing act, take a deep breath and read on for resources and strategies from our agent-parents below. Each shares honest perspectives that will both encourage and empower you as you navigate the new normal with your family.
Set a Schedule – and Stick to It
Your life has been thrown out of balance. You have pets in your lap during lead generation and kids asking for help with homework in the middle of the day. If you’re going to successfully navigate the chaos, you’re going to need to create a schedule, get everyone’s buy-in, and stick to it as best you can.
Take Heidi North, for example. Based in Washington, North’s life shifted early on in the COVID outbreak as Seattle was named one of the hot spots. Within days, she found herself sharing an at-home office with her husband, and trying to create a sense of normalcy for her two children, ages 11 and 15.
“Our first step was building a schedule together,” she says. “We modeled our schedule after what we have for Keller Williams.” First, the family sat down together to identify what their big rocks would be for the week. Second, they outlined meetings and deadlines that would need to be coordinated. They also began tracking something they didn’t think much about – the weather.
“We are jumping outside whenever we can so we are getting outdoor time, exercise, and family fun time. That’s a BIG element of our schedule that we’re flexible around.”
By maintaining a strict schedule, everyone has been able to stay focused on their big rocks, create time blocks for their day, and understand what everyone is doing with their time. By getting everyone’s buy-in and making sure creating a schedule is a family affair, it doesn’t just help their kids keep track of their own agendas – it helps them understand what their parents are doing with their time, and when that time is free.
“It’s helping them stay on track with the work they have due, and it’s also helping them realize that we have a schedule to maintain and they have a role in that. They get to see us working in a capacity they’re not used to seeing; it’s setting up some good role modeling. They also get to look forward to fun – which we place in the schedule too.”
When it comes to practical advice for parents, Heidi shared:
- Don’t despair when things don’t go as planned. This is something none of us have experienced before. It’s important to give yourself and your kids a pat on the back. Celebrate the wins, whether that’s daily or weekly. Celebrate them together. Keep things positive and stay flexible.
- Pivot fast. If something’s not working, the quicker you can pivot and regroup, the better. If you planned on a walk, but everyone’s grumpy, turn up the music and have a dance party instead. If the weather is too windy, bring out the kites.
- Be reasonable. And, it’s not going to be like it is on a normal, daily basis going to work. If you have young kids, it’s not reasonable that you will work 5 hours uninterrupted. Think of things in smaller chunks of time. 30 minutes while they’re watching a TV show works … that’s where the flexibility comes in.
Set Clear Expectations – With Yourself and Others
While scheduling is important, it isn’t the magical potion to achieving work-life balance. Particularly when you have younger children, which is the case for Darren and Kam Wade in Fresno, California. The couple leads a team of six: Darren working as a listing specialist and Kam as a lead buyer’s agent.
They also have three children: a toddler (3 ½ years old) and twins (4 months old).
“Before quarantine, Kam and I had a nanny that would come over. She’d come over three times a week and her parents came a lot. That’s how we’re able to get lead gen done, go on appointments, and go to the office on scheduled days,” says Darren.
Since quarantine, it’s been challenging to find that balance between the two – but at the end of the day, they’re parents first.
“Our first priority is our children, so work happens when we’re feeding and holding them. And when they’re crying in the background,” shares Kam. “It comes down to setting clear expectations with those you’re working with.”
For example, when it comes to real estate related endeavors, Darren says, “I need more time. If I need to do CMA for a home, instead of being done in an hour, I need 24 hours to find the time to dive in and get detailed with that. It’s taking me longer to do regular, normal tasks.”
If you’re about to take a conference call, give people a heads-up that you’re a parent and you need to take care of your kids. If you have to miss an end-of-day check-in because it’s nap time – let your client or coworkers know. Whatever the case, the important thing is to be transparent about what you can and can’t do.
When asked, “What recommendations do you have for parents right now for children under 5?” here’s what the Wades shared:
- Kam: Look on the bright side. Before this, sometimes we would work during the day only to get home to work some more and not spend quality time with our children or each other. Now, we get to do things we normally wouldn’t do. Take this as an opportunity to get to know your kids more. I’ve really enjoyed spending more time with my son and working with him on developing good habits.
- Darren: Mentally accept things for how they are and focus on what you can control. For us, that’s going on evening walks and taking the time to be kids again WITH our kids. Normally, I wouldn’t have patience to play a game. But now, I’m letting go and living in the moment, playing with my son and drawing on his imagination.
With so much to get done, increasingly hectic schedules, and nothing to break up your time – burnout can happen quickly. With three kids aged 15, 9, and 8 – agent Tiffany Todd knows all about how easy it is to get burned out if you aren’t careful.
To mitigate burnout, Todd begins her day early with gratitude.
“I get up and write down five things I’m grateful for. I do some “I am” statements, running through different affirmations such as: Today is going to be an amazing day. She also emphasizes the importance of setting aside time every day where you pour into yourself.
“You’re only as good you’re able to be. If you’re tired or burned out, you won’t be effective at anything. I have committed to giving myself 30 minutes at least each day.”
She also makes sure that, even though her kids are on a tight school schedule, they have fun. Setting aside time to record TikTok videos, activities outdoors, and play games together.
“Even though this isn’t my norm, I got into real estate to spend time with my children. It’s made me appreciate family time even more.”
- Incorporate breaks. So, like school, your children can get in the habit of knowing when something should be done or happen. As 12:02 hits, my daughter tells me, “It’s time for lunch.”
- Encourage self-time. When I get caught up in my business and not take time for myself, it affects everything – the household, my attitude. I cannot express how HELPFUL that’s been. My whole mindset has shifted.
- Enlist support. I have a good friend, who is also a real estate agent, and for the past three years we’ve talked once or twice a week to check in on each other and swap business and parenting ideas. Having someone to talk to that understands and can relate is very helpful. After being with my children all day, it’s refreshing to talk to an adult.
We know in these trying times, it can be hard to juggle everything and be the effective agents we want to be. Just remember to dig into the KW culture: be kind to yourself, be kind to your community, and help where you can. And remember, “Hang in there. This too shall pass. We don’t know when, but it will,” Todd reminds.