Today I sat with some amazing peers of mine to talk about something I get asked about a lot: how to find balance as a parent and an entrepreneur.
Many of us have had the dream of owning our own business - one that would allow us to be present with our families, raise our kids, and offer us flexibility. But the challenges of balancing the two is often overlooked, and can be so isolating. So I wanted to start the conversation and to give those around me a safe space in which to talk about the struggles, the joys, and the chaos that is - in my case - #momtrepreneurship.
I definitely don’t have all my shit together, but over time (and plenty of struggling) I shifted my mindset, and found some tools that have helped me be more successful as a mom and as a business owner. At the very least, I hope this helps normalize the internal struggles we all face trying to juggle these roles for some of you.
What you should know (mostly also to remind myself):
You CAN have it all… you just can’t have it all right now.
There is no formula or one way that works for everyone.
Figure out what’s important to YOU, and work around that. Everyone’s priorities are different!
Be unapologetic about your roles - both as a parent, and as an entrepreneur. If you’re at work, believe that’s where you should be at that moment. If you’re at home, believe that’s where you should be at that moment.
Be realistic about your expectations of yourself.
Maintain professionalism… and still embrace who you are. My kids are the best parts of me, and all my clients and peers know it - because I make sure they do. That means they will understand when I tell them I need to reschedule our timeline meeting or move it to FaceTime because my little one is sick. Or that if they schedule a walkthrough on a Tuesday morning it’s likely my kids will be joining us. And they still trust that I will show up on their wedding day, ready to cry with them and dance with them and capture every little detail in between.
Things that work for me…
As tempting as it is to stay in my pajamas all day, I know I feel a lot better when I take ten minutes to “get myself together” in the morning. Does this always happen? Absolutely not.
Sleeping in until my kids show up at my bedside. The whole “get up an hour before everyone and set the tone for your day” doesn’t work for me when my most productive working hours are 9pm-12am. So until I really need to get up, let mama sleep!
Focusing my attention. When my kids are awake, I’m 100% in that role. That role also includes keeping up with laundry, cleaning, cooking, etc. And the kids do it all with me! When my kids nap or take quiet time in the afternoon, that’s my admin time. Post-bedtime is my dedicated work time, when I can sit and binge old Sopranos episodes and edit the night away. Is it tiring? Absolutely. Do I take nights off? Absolutely. This just seems to work best for me, right now!
Deciding that I’m okay with missing out on some “me” time in these early years, and focusing most of my attention on my business and my family. I’m not saying I neglect myself - you certainly cannot pour from an empty cup - but my versions of self-care look a little different and often include my children. They do yoga alongside me (and will stay focused if we do Cosmic Kids Yoga instead of mama’s boring studio versions), we have reading time most days for 20 minutes (mama gets to read her book, and the babes flip through theirs and look at the pictures), etc.
Not overdoing the whole “create a schedule” thing. I have a list of things I want to accomplish in a given week (versus assigning them to a specific day), which leaves room for the unexpected playdates and trips to the urgent care when your baby suddenly spikes an insane fever. Housework is a little easier to ‘schedule’ for me, because I do laundry twice a week, order groceries once a week (based on my Sunday meal planning), etc. but obviously those are less deadline-critical than my work obligations.
Tools I Use
A Passion Planner. I use this to dream, plan, work, and stay focused. It keeps me grounded, reminds me to reflect periodically, includes a gratitude log, and gives me a place to color-code my life. Click the link for 10% off!
Honeybook. I used to use a spreadsheet I’d built some macros into to track my workflow, etc. Then I transitioned to Honeybook and life was never the same. It takes quite a bit of work to get things set up, but once you’ve got everything dialed in, it literally saves me HOURS every single day in work. There are several other options, this is just the one that was most inclusive of the things that I was looking for in a client management system. Click the link for $200 off your first year! Want help getting set up? I got you.
Instacart. I realize it sounds ridiculous, but for about $100/year I get my groceries delivered for no extra cost. Think Amazon Prime for groceries, but from the stores I already shop at. This literally saves my life during wedding season with two toddlers, when grocery shopping feels like it could just be the end of the world, ha!
Meal Planning. I don’t use anything fancy - just a notepad to jot this down, with my phone nearby to add items to my Instacart. Yay!
Kidswap. Find a like-minded, trusted parent+entrepreneur and arrange to watch each other’s kids periodically! I do this on Thursdays/Fridays with my good friend, Meghan, and it gives us each a good chunk of time in which we can accomplish the things we need to!
Working Playdates. I periodically invite an industry peer over WITH their kid(s), when the kids all get to play together and we sit and sip a mimosa and get some work done. It’s not necessarily THE most productive, but I get far more done this way than if I were home alone entertaining my small children. You can also meet up at places like PlayDatePDX (they serve good food and beer!), Symposium Coffeehouse (the one by me has an upstairs area for the kids to play), or The Wiggle Room (hooray for a mom-owned business!).
Feel free to share any additional thoughts / tips / tools you might have in the comments below!