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Living a double life: being a parent at an early stage startup

Posted by | 29 October, 2012 | Startup

Original post by alyssaaldersley

As Noah Kagan recently put it so well: can I be real with you? Real real?

I’ve talked before about how I carve my day to squeeze every drip out of it. Shared my theories fortheming, a noble attempt to avoid drift and push for maximum focus. Described how I try to be disciplined with my schedule, working in bursts across a 16 hour day.

What I talk much less about is why I hack my life in such ways. About my “other job”, as parent to two small people.

Surely I must be crazy to grip onto the rocket ship that is life at an early stage startup, while also trying to be equally successful in my role as parent, no?

Some days I think perhaps I am, that it can’t be done. Those thoughts creep in whenever I’m struggling to keep my two lives separate; determined not to let my small people affect my work, or my work affect my small people. All while looking to escape assumed judgement for being a parent in a young man’s world – a place where parenting feels rare.

Slowly I’m starting to swing around. Realising I might be able to have my cake and eat it; to pull off caring for my small people without compromising my commitment to the rocket ship.

Realising that rather than being about a fight for separation [and perhaps segregation] of my double life, perhaps it’s really about acceptance and blending them, openly and honestly, into one.

I’d like to talk here about the challenges I encounter as I try to pull it all off. I know how useful it will be to me, to work through the complexities of parenting while riding a rocket ship, and it would be amazing to receive comments from others in the same position. I hope by sharing, it’s also helpful to others too.

Life’s a balancing act, or is it?

There’s always a ton of talk about ‘work-life balance’. In its purest form, the name suggests each significant area of your life should be evenly balanced and equally weighted. Therefore, as soon as one aspect appears to be receiving more attention than another, you invariably begin to feel off balance and out of control. A recipe for two-way guilt and stress if ever I heard it!

More recently, the buzz words have shifted to ‘work-life merge’ and ‘integration’. As their names suggest, the focus is on acceptance of your whole self. Rather than living two separate lives, struggling to keep each under control without affecting the other, you act openly and deliver positively to both. The guilt that comes with living in ‘middle state’ is not good for anyone, least of all yourself. Trust me on that one.

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