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EPnews - EP Times (An Editorial)
a Three-Ring Circus"
1998, by Lisa Roberts
- here's a well-kept secret on my block
that nobody knows about but me. Well, maybe my kids know about
it too, but not my husband. And maybe the UPS and Federal Express
guys have taken a peek, but not my neighbors. OK, everyone knows
that I'm an "Entrepreneurial
but what they don't
know is what my household has to turn into for this to happen.
- The truth is
I run a three-ring circus every weekday, right here in my home.
No kidding. You have to see it to believe it, and very few do.
It's a circus with no audience and no set act, no fancy costumes,
loud music or live animals. But if you open the front door when
youre not expected to, you are sure to find a whole lot
of activity going on including balancing
acts, gymnastic-type leaps, some clowning around and, on a few
glorious occasions, a touch of magic...
- If you're an
you know what I'm talking about. In one ring there's the kids
toddling or scurrying
about looking for fun, adventure,
and a wipe (thank you very much!). In the second ring there's
your household chores, bills, repairs,
calendar-tracking, holiday planning and the like. And in the
third ring there's your work documents, clients, keyboard activity, phone calls,
mailings, bookkeeping, taxes, et al. Your role as an Entrepreneurial Parent strikingly resembles
that of a Ring Master, and if you don't take command of this
demanding job that circus of yours will simply fold.
- How, as a Ring
Master, do you keep the show going without compromising each
act? The first trick is to make sure all three rings are properly
prepared, practiced and can operate independently at times.
- For instance,
if that first ring includes pre-school age children, then it
should also include a steady babysitter. No question, supplemental
childcare is a must for this circle to operate effectively on
its own. Preparation here means finding the right chemistry between
childcare provider and child(ren), ongoing and honest discussions
with each participant, and monetary budgeting. The practice part
is simply putting in the time, preferably on a steady and part-time
basis. With your monitoring and their enthusiasm, you should
find (most of the time!) that this ring can and will run independently
when you need it to.
- As for the second
and third rings, technology lends a hand to boost the independence
level within these arenas. From dishwashers, microwaves and dryers,
to computer programs, modems and voice mail systems, a few of
the juggling acts within the household and business routines
are "Ring Master-Free"! Put in a load of dishes, a
load of laundry and a leftover meal; let the answering machine
take your calls, the accounting program calculate your monthly
profit margin, and your web page answer some of your prospects'
questions. No guilt necessary you're a working parent and you could use the
- The other responsibility
of a Ring Master is to be ready and able to step into all three
acts yourself as needed. This is simple enough one step at a
time, but it's quite a feat when all three rings need your help
- Unlike a real
circus grounded in rehearsals and repetition, Entrepreneurial Parenthood is often free-flowing
and spontaneous, uncovering a new act every day. Sometimes despite your best attempts
at planning the school bus pulls
up the street at the same moment the express mail truck pulls
up the driveway at the same moment the dryer bell rings. You
have to weigh needs versus consequences before deciding which
one of the rings to step into first. Do you greet your kids with
a welcome home smile or turn your back? Sign for the package
or make the driver wait a few minutes? Fold clothes immediately
or let them become one big ball of wrinkles?
- Coming up with
a work ethic to live by can help. Mine is family first, career
second, housekeeping third. Although I make it my business to
alternate center stage activity among all three, having that
value system in place helps me prioritize when all three acts
unexpectedly demand my performance at once.
- Running a circus
can be fun and tedious, energizing and exhausting. We hope it
will be lucrative. We also hope we can keep it our little secret.
Towards that end, it may be a good idea to tip the pizza man
with a wink and a couple of bills every Friday evening. After
all, you wouldn't want him to spread the word around town...(the
last thing this circus of yours needs is an audience!).