Are we teaching a work ethic or modeling skewed priorities?
Hustle culture tells us that we should rise and grind, waking up only to jump into overwhelming workdays. When we’re self-employed, we often feel that we should work all the time if we want to be a success. We become afraid that we’ll begin to lose our income or risk our businesses if we slow down at all.
Unfortunately, the mentality of hustle culture has a trickle-down effect. Too often, our children see us prioritize work over balance, work over quality time with our families, and work over ourselves.
But self-care isn’t actually a luxury. The entrepreneur lifestyle makes self-care a necessity. If we want to be able to continue to do our jobs and take care of our families, we need to make sure that we keep our bodies and minds healthy enough to be up for the task. While we want to model a healthy work ethic, we also need to teach leading a balanced, healthy life.
#1 We model boundaries.
If we teach our children that we are always available for our work, we aren’t teaching them the importance of our jobs. Instead, we’re teaching poor boundaries. While we don’t all have the luxury of set office hours, we can model better boundaries by having times where we disengage from our work.
As a freelance writer and romance author, it can be hard for me to turn off my work mode. My mind is always going over new ideas, characters, and plots. But as much as I want to create great stories and write strong articles, I also need to be a present parent to my children, showing up for them in the ways that they need. Modeling boundaries looks like taking a break from social media, setting aside quality time where work won’t intrude, and giving our children our undivided attention whenever we can.
#2 We openly praise balance over hustle.
When we talk about our work, we can make sure to verbally acknowledge balance and self-care as a part of what we do. While we can be proud of our productivity and resourcefulness, we can also show pride in having a healthy work-life balance that includes time for ourselves and our families. Instead of emphasizing how hard we work and how tired we are, we can shift the conversation to the benefits of working for ourselves and how important it is that we take time out from work to recharge.
Hustle culture tells us it’s a badge of honor to be exhausted, to work more hours than there are in the day, and to skip meals in order to get things done. When we embrace this culture as our lifestyle, we tend to eat fast rather than healthy, exercise less, get less sleep, and generally run ourselves into the ground chasing success. While it might offer temporary success, it severely damages our quality of life in the process.
#3 We make space for healthy habits.
Part of my daily schedule includes fitness. I don’t see it as taking time away from my work. Instead, I consider it a part of my workday. It helps me be a more relaxed and creative worker. It helps give me the energy to be more productive. By starting with fitness first, I’m able to power through my day getting more done, even if I’m doing it in less time than I would have otherwise.
While fitness is important, it’s not the only healthy habit we need. Getting enough sleep and eating well are also essential to our overall well-being. The mind-body connection is one that we ignore at our own risk.
#4 We create ambiance.
While adding a little atmosphere may not seem to be relevant to self-care, we are greatly impacted by our environment. I’ve worn many hats in my work history. I once spent years working for a call center made out of beige cubicles. Something as simple as hanging up family photos in my cube or bringing in a personalized coffee mug made a significant impact on my workday.
In my time as a mental health therapist, I had a bird feeder outside my office. Not only was it a joy for me to see our feathered friends visiting throughout the day, but it also offered clients a bit of peace. As a freelance writer, I went from a cluttered, disorganized living space to a warm, welcoming office-only space in my home.
Creating that ambiance doesn’t have to be a large expense. I took two old pieces of furniture I already had in my home and painted them with resin paint to improve their appearance. I finished both pieces in under an hour. I brought order to the cluttered chaos that was formerly my work environment. I strung up fairy lights around the room, lit candles to create a stronger sensory experience, and hung up canvases made from photos I took on vacation.
Even my children noticed a distinct difference. Instead of running wild through my office when they’re home as they would when I worked in our living area, they treat it with respect. Sometimes, they even ask to sit quietly in the room with me while I’m finishing up a task, choosing to take their tablets and headphones and enjoy the atmosphere I’d created.
Working for ourselves can be a challenge. It can easily keep us up nights, particularly at the start when we’re trying to do everything we can to turn our businesses into success stories. But hustle culture won’t do us any good if our bodies begin to break down or if we’re too stressed out to enjoy our lives.
Once upon a time, I endlessly praised that culture. I wore my exhaustion with pride. I was frequently distracted even during family time with my children. But a mindset shift helped me move away from hustle culture in order to prioritize self-care.
I’m still teaching my children how to be productive and resourceful. I’m teaching them the value of a strong work ethic. But I’m also teaching them that our wellness matters, too — even more than our work.
*Photo by Jarek Ceborski on Unsplash