Work-Life Balance: How to Be the Boss and Still Have a Life

Are you trying to strike the perfect work-life balance as the boss? How do you find that balance and still have a life -- especially if you're a female breadwinner -- without getting overwhelmed? Here are seven ways to successfully balance everything.

As women in the workplace we want to do it all; run our own businesses, be attentive friends and parents, and provide for our families. Trying to do all of these things at once (while moving across the country no less) can seem impossible.

According to a Pew Center Research analysis, over 40% of American households, with children under the age of 18, include a mother who’s the primary earner. I’m the breadwinner for my husband and I while he tries to grow his private chef career.

How do you balance work and still have a life as a female breadwinner without getting overwhelmed? Here are seven ways to successfully balance everything.

1. Make self-care number one

How are you supposed to care for your family, your clients, or your spouse if you don’t take care of yourself? Self-care needs to be at the top your list! In order to perform at your best, put out your best work, and be a good example to those around you, your health and happiness needs to be number one.

Make time for a meet up with friends on a regular basis. Take a bubble bath every night. Read a good book before heading to bed. Chores, work, and errands will still be there, so take a few minutes every day and every week to indulge in something just for you.

You’ll be less likely to burn out, have more fun, and be able to serve everyone around you a lot more. This is especially important when you’re a female breadwinner because your clients and family depend upon you. The best way to give them 100% is to set boundaries and know when to put you first.

2. Value heart and hustle over a degree

I was a successful bookkeeper and accountant for over 10 years. I also worked as a Tax Specialist for 4 years. During this time I was able to pay off all my debt, quit my job, and start my own business.

I’ve been featured in Redbook Magazine, INC Magazine and in The Huffington Post, and now I help other freelancers quit their jobs and overcome financial obstacles.

But did you know that I don’t even have a high school diploma? It’s true.

When my mom died from breast cancer I was just 15 years old. So I had to get a hardship driver’s license and help my dad take care of my four siblings. Because of this I graduated high school early and got my GED (General Education Diploma).

I never let my lack of a high school diploma stop me — and neither should you! Why? Because we have one thing that other people with fancy papers don’t have; heart and hustle. I was always smart in school and have been very disciplined to get to where I am today.

I view my 12th grade education as a fun challenge, not an obstacle.

As the female breadwinner you have the opportunity to blow people away with your work ethic and hustle. Don’t let your lack of a fancy degree get in the way of your career or personal pursuits. View them as obstacles that are worth overcoming.

3. But don’t forget to educate yourself

Even though I technically never graduated from high school, I still highly value being educated and learning new skills.

When you take on the role of the breadwinner in the home you’re responsible to not only earn a living but to fully understand the best ways to manage the money you’re making. This is a never-ending process so you’re constantly learning and improving.

Here are some of the best classes and financial courses to help you continually educate yourself and maintain control over your money:

  • Money Essentials 101 – CNN Money (free). This casual course is offered by CNN Money as a free resource for understanding the basics of all things money.
  • H&R Block Income Tax Course – H&R Block (cost varies on location). This class is taught in-person at your local H&R Block office two nights a week.
  • Ally Wallet Wise Courses – Ally Bank (free). With four courses to choose from, you’ll learn the basics of credit, budgeting, banking & investing, and auto finance.
  • Solopreneur Finance – Careful Cents & One Woman Shop ($77). A 12-lesson course about managing your personal and business finances and will teach you the basics of running a freelance biz successfully.

4. Make time for play

There are numerous drawbacks to being a female breadwinner, from higher divorce rates, to more infidelity, to increased stress levels and housework. You can negate this by giving yourself time for fun! Even adults need a little play time to de-stress and take a break.

What activities help your brain shift gears? Maybe it’s working out, traveling for the weekend, cooking food, or attending a painting class. Find fun activities that you can allocate in your budget each month.

As a budding painter I love anything that involves paint and a canvas. So once-a-month I book a $30 adult painting class and spend the evening making a beautiful mess. Sometimes I also schedule a girl’s night with adult coloring books, markers, and colored pencils.

My husband, on the other hand, enjoys being a chef and coming up with new menu ideas. He experiments with these ideas at the monthly dinner parties he hosts for our friends and family.

These are fun activities that we allocate in the budget each month, so it’s still affordable and gives us the chance to indulge in our own creative outlets.

work life balance pendulum

5. Avoid getting into a rut

Doing the same thing over and over every day can get boring and tiresome. This will quickly lead to being burned out and feelings of wanting to quit. Don’t let this happen!

Let go of work that isn’t challenging anymore, and stop working for clients who don’t value your opinions. Look back at all the things you’ve accomplished this month, or the past year. Give yourself credit for all you do!

Do something different. Go on a weekend getaway, or have a fun staycation with your family. As the female breadwinner it’s your responsibility to try something new every day, and make sure your family stays creative. Be open to experimenting and finding new ways to solve old problems.

6. Regularly evaluate your priority

What do you value most in life? Why do you work, play, and live? These are the things you should invest your time and energy into so make them a priority.

The word priority has been used in its singular form since the 1400s and was only pluralized to priorities in the 20th century when our busy schedules started taking over our lives. The true definition of the word priority is singular and only refers to one thing that takes precedence over another.

It’s time to simplify your to-do lists and re-evaluate what your true priority is. This may change from time to time, which is why you must regularly evaluate your work and life to make space for what’s important.

The pendulum will constantly swing back-and-forth from your career, to kids, to friends, to traveling, and you’ll have to learn to go with it. Be patient with yourself and let your priority change, but never lose sight of what truly matters.

7. Find a supportive network

As a female breadwinner it’s vital that you communicate all of your feelings with your partner, your family, and your friends. You want to make sure you’re on the same page, while connecting with like-minded women who can offer support when you need it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and to express your frustrations and needs. You don’t have to balance work and life, alone.

When you take up the role of the breadwinner in the home it’s important to not only earn a living to pay the bills but to fully understand the best ways to manage the money you’re making.

This is a never-ending process where you want to be constantly learning and improving.

What’s one thing you do to bring balance to your life and work as a female breadwinner?

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October is National Work and Family month, so I’m partnering with H&R Block to acknowledge the hard work and dedication that breadwinners have for their families. To learn more about finding work/life balance, or providing for your family, check out the Block Talk blog
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  1. Kayla says:

    I absolutely LOVE this post. I had no idea that you got a GED instead of a high school diploma. What an amazing story and, as always, you give great advice and tips. I definitely need to make sure I put myself first. One thing I’m doing right now is trimming my client list to make more time for myself, my friends, and my family.

  2. Cat says:

    It’s so hard to find balance sometimes, but I know that when I take good care of myself I can take better care of my family and my business. Its just hard to remember that sometimes when I look at my calendar of looming deadlines and to-dos.

  3. Denise says:

    Carrie this is a fantastic post with so much to think about. All we really need in life is a never ending determination to reach our goals. You are a inspiration to all entrepreneurs starting out including me. Your support and encouragement is greatly appreciated. Continue the great work.

  4. Charissa says:

    Carrie, wow! I love how you framed the article with taking care of yourself and having relaxing time from the perspective of having fun in order to be the best female breadwinner you can be, instead of adding more things that you ‘should’ do. I’ve been the breadwinner while putting my hubby through school, yet taking care of myself often falls to the bottom of the list. I think I need to work on five out of the seven. I’m going to start tonight with taking some time for myself and going to bed early.

    • Carrie says:

      I feel like I’m always working on one of these things, so it’s an on-going process for sure! Glad I was able to get you thinking about taking care of YOU though. It’s an important job. 🙂

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