Two busy Bay Area parents and founders on how they avoid burnout and keep their relationship strong despite their crammed schedules

  • Eric Bahn is a cofounder and general partner at Hustle Fund, an early-stage venture capital firm.
  • His wife, Beatrice Kim, runs a life-coaching practice. They have two young kids and live in the Bay Area.
  • They described how they work together to balance two busy careers and their steps for avoiding burnout.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Eric Bahn, 39, is a cofounder and general partner at Hustle Fund, an early-stage venture capital firm. His wife, Beatrice Kim, 39, is the founder of a life-coaching practice, Bea Kim Coaching. 

A busy working couple in the San Francisco Bay Area, the couple has two kids (ages 6 and 2). They spoke with Insider about how they juggle family time with their demanding careers, what they do to avoid burnout, and how they keep their relationship strong.

Life in the San Francisco Bay Area as a family of four

Eric: The Bay Area is a tough place to live. It’s just so expensive here: In our area of the Bay, a nanny starts at minimum $25 an hour. Food is expensive. Rent/mortgages are expensive. 

But the weather is near perfect most of the year, there’s so much for a family to do. Driving 90-minutes in any direction takes you to some breathtaking scenery. We also love having friends and family nearby. We’ve considered moving to another part of the US (and even Canada), but at the end of the day we decided to stay. 

Beatrice: I’d love to have a backyard; I’d love to surround myself with folks that don’t focus so much on that question, “What do you do?” I’d love to ensure a childhood for my kids that isn’t high-pressure, performance-based academics. 

But ultimately when Eric and I sat down to revisit our family values early last year, we identified that all of our top, non-negotiable needs were being met. The nice-to-haves — like a backyard — were not insurmountable. 

Eric: That said, I do think that some level of exodus happening in this market is real. A lot of tech workers in particular are enjoying the flexibility of location, and I certainly sympathize with the desire to find a cheaper lifestyle, bigger home, and lower taxes.

A typical day in their household

Eric: The kids wake up around 7:30 a.m. After logging my son into his Zoom kindergarten class around 8:30 a.m., I work in the hallway outside his bedroom, answering e-mails and on standby in case he needs help. (Their son’s school has been remote since Fall 2020). 

Around 9:30 a.m., the first part of kindergarten ends and it’s homework time. My son and I generally can knock out his morning homework in about 30 minutes. After this, my wife takes over assisting our son from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Our nanny watches over our daughter the entire morning.

After that, for me, it’s a day of meetings. I try to pack every minute with 30-minute meetings, catching up with founders, talking to new prospective founders to invest in, and chatting with the team. Zoom, Slack, and texting are all running simultaneously.

At 5:30 p.m., after our nanny leaves, my wife and I focus on precious family time. We try to be as present as possible in preparing dinner together, playing, and washing up. The kids are in bed by 8:30 p.m.. Then from 9 to 11 p.m., it’s my time to catch up on individual projects and e-mails. On Mondays, my business partners and I meet during this two-hour block. From 11 until about midnight, I try to hang with my wife, watch Netflix, and unwind before doing it all again in the morning.

Beatrice: I completely recognize the privilege we have in having childcare through our nanny. It has blunted the full force of the pandemic for us, allowing us so much more stability and freedom and mental wellbeing than I know so many parents are experiencing. 

The family in a 2019 photo.Milou + Olin Photography

But what I do think is a shared experience across parents and caregivers today is that we are all doing more, more, more. This idea of the third shift is incredibly real. Working all day, then parenting after work, then working again after the kids go to bed — it’s relenting and exhausting. I work almost every evening after the kids go to bed after a full day of client calls and work. 

And it’s not lost on me the gender dynamic and social pressure that I, as a woman, feel especially. The pressure to pick up the slack or to answer the question of “what needs to give” is usually felt more deeply by women. And we haven’t even begun talking about the differences felt across race!  I’m lucky to have a partner — and even more, a partner who is supportive and focused on creating a stable family environment. 

Of course, the silver lining of the last year spent at home — and I hear this a lot with the parents I coach — has been the additional time with our kids. 

How they keep their bond strong

Eric: It’s hard. One thing our family did during the holidays in December is sit down and define our family values together. We literally wrote them down on paper and even framed it next to our dining room. Principles like “Quality Time AND Quantity Time” were listed; it was a way of setting our family’s social contract for how we wish to engage with each other.

Beatrice and I try to put this into practice with each other too. In the evenings, we have a nice ritual of drinking tea and cookies (I have the waistline to prove it), while watching Netflix and just enjoying some quiet time while the kids sleep. 

But even with all that, it’s still tough. It’s very tempting to take a transactional view of the relationship: “Well I watched the kids for X hours, so I get to do this now…” That’s when we become the most frustrated with each other.

Beatrice: Three big things come to mind for me, in order of importance: Working on my own self so I don’t just dump everything on Eric; knowing what I actually need and then communicating my needs to him; and prioritizing our time together. 

Sometimes I just have to be okay with having one of them, and if I have to choose just one, it’d be the first one. If I don’t work on myself, I’m not good for anyone — my kids, my husband, my community. 

Their tips for avoiding burnout 

Beatrice: I think the biggest disservice to parents and employees in general today is putting the onus of solving or preventing burnout on the individual. There are many other, bigger factors that we need to address — childcare policies, company stipends, flexible schedules, changes to performance review evaluations — that we need to help parents but that are largely out of most people’s control.

But as far as what people can do, my first bit of advice is to acknowledge that our mental health and emotional well-being is a long game. It takes prolonged, chronic stress to get to burnout, and it’ll take daily intentional practice to dig out of it. 

Here are some key things that Eric and I practice and that I ask other parents to follow as well:

  • Give yourself permission to focus on you. For me, that looks like going outside for a short walk; the combination of outdoor time plus physical activity is always so refreshing for my psychological and emotional well-being. For Eric, that’s his hour-long Zoom workouts a few times per week.
  • Let go of “perfect” and replace it with “good enough.” For us, that looks like choosing three big things — safety, fostering independence, fun — in the growth of our children, and letting the other stuff — like screen time restrictions or clean bedrooms or fighting over homework — slide.
  • Finally, ask for help, both at the task level and emotional support level. That can look like getting help with tasks that just take up a ton of time, like meal planning or house cleaning. For emotional support, we belong to several parent groups online and within our community that just reminds us we’re not alone. We reach out for emotional support when we need a sanity check and provide support back to other parents. We also both work with our own coaches and therapists for our emotional health.  

Eric and I certainly recognize our many privileges, especially during this past year. We want other parents to know they’re not alone in this struggle, that they feel like they can ask for help, and that we’re all just trying our best.

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