Being a mompreneur is tough.
Finding that illicit "balance" is near-impossible when the demands of motherhood are thrown in.
So, how do you do it?
How do you manage everything?
It's not easy, that's for sure.
But we're mompreneurs.
We love our children and we love our work.
Whether you're a stay-at-home-mom ready to break into a work-from-home business, currently a work-at-home-mom (WAHM), or are simply wanting to find a better way to juggle it all—this post is for you.
This post's founding question came from Regina H.
Regina wrote: "I'm a mom of 2 (3 years and 1 year) and I'm trying to build an online business from home. It seems like you're the only business/professional blogger who actually has small children and I noticed that you produce really great stuff ALL THE TIME! I'm just wondering where you find the time to do it all! How do you do it? Thanks!"
Well, thank you, Regina.
To answer your question the best I can, I want to clarify a couple points. Plus give you a little backstory as to how "this all" came to be.
Daycare is expensive, yo
Previously [in direct sales] I felt like daycares and babysitters were raising my kids.
And I hated it.
I "can't" be a stay-at-home-mom and remain sane so I found ways to make child care work a couple days a week.
Sadly, though, daycare isn't cheap. Especially when you have multiple young children and no family or friends capable or willing to watch your kids now and then.
This summer, my oldest was now too old to go to daycare, plus our daycare woman was pregnant and closing her business down indefinitely.
So, we decided to keep our 1-day-available nanny once each week and I'd (somehow) find a way to work full-time from home with 3.
Crazy, I know...
And it was a stressful summer of 2015—I won't lie and say it's been peaches and pies all summer.
But you know what? I survived. My kids survived.
Our nanny got another job, so she's no longer working with us, sadly.
Now, I'm working full-time from home with 3 kids under [almost] 6.
(UPDATE: As of 2016 all kids receive full-time child care—2 in school and 1 in daycare.)
And now I want to share some tips with you on the experience.
The good and the bad.
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sacrificing for the greater good
Have you ever heard "work really hard now, even if you have to miss time with your family, and later when you get to the top you can relax and spend time with them then"? Or something similar?
Well, that's a big ole steaming load of bullshit.
When you get to the top, you've got more responsibilities. More money, yes, but more chaos and time-sucks that come with additional power, finances, and obligations.
When I say sacrifice, I don't mean sacrifice the time with your family to chase a dollar. I'm saying the opposite.
Well, I'm saying to structure your time so that you don't have to sacrifice as much with your family.
- Wake up 1-2 hours earlier than the rest of your family. Take that time to work your business, do paperwork, get in a workout, or whatever you need to do to kick-start a killer day.
- Make nap time happen. Or "rest time". My oldest 2 won't nap. But the youngest needs a nap daily (technically they all do but I'm done arguing with kids on that one). So, I've set up midday "rest time". They can play quietly in their rooms, read, or whatever they need to do to be happy while Mama gets some work done for at least 2 hours a day. This is mandatory. If they fight me they lose their TV show privilege for the evening.
- Make "personal time" happen. When I was a kid, my parents didn't set boundaries for my brother and me. If we wanted to hang all over Mom all day, we could. I found that lack of structure really hurt me come the late teen years when I was out on my own and never had "alone time". Nor structure...
So, as parents we try to do things a little differently to assist the life lessons our children will endure.
(My oldest has the toughest time with this. She loves to be all over you.)
Time to themselves is important to their personal development, just as it is to our businesses, mental health, and personal space.
Whether my kids go play upstairs in their little play area or play in the backyard while I work at the kitchen table with full view of them—they're occupying each other and I'm back to work or answering emails for another hour midday.
They need time away from you just as much as you do from them.
- Set a structured schedule with some wiggle room for fun stuff. Things pop up, so flexibility is important. But what's more important is planning the activities you're going to do to occupy your happy children, as well as your own work schedule.
Time block sections of your day for the kids, and for your personal and business time. You're literally scheduling your time. That may seem over-the-top if you like to "go with the flow". If you do, I've got to tell you: the flow is killing you. You've got to be organized to succeed at mompreneurship.
- Set an earlier bedtime. For the summer, my kids are in bed no later than 8:30 PM. During the school year, it's 7:30. When my sister-in-law first told me that her daughter went to bed at 7, I thought that was the craziest thing. But, she'd stay up and play quietly so Mom and Dad could have some time together and they both could get some work done.
Genius. Everyone's happy. Things are getting done and your child(ren) are safe and content while you're doing it.
Sure, my kids fight it sometimes. Sure, we can hear them playing upstairs later than we'd hope it'd take them to pass out. But there's only been a handful of times that we have to go upstairs to tell them to go to sleep.
We're consistent with bedtime and naps. The kids know what to expect. The structure helps with discipline and them knowing ahead of time what to expect helps with communication.
- Make friends with a local mom in a similar situation. I have a wonderful SAHM-friend down the street from me who is there whenever I need her. Sadly I can't help her out as often, so I make sure I don't take advantage of her kindness. But, there's been plenty of times that she's brought my oldest home from the bus stop for us, and we've done the same for her. Every little thing helps.
Find someone you can work together with, or trade off childcare now and then. It definitely makes work and life a lot less stressful.
Make sure the time you spend with your partner and/or children is quality time. This is the time that you need to put work down entirely. As entrepreneurs, we tend to eat, sleep, and breathe our businesses. That can't continuously happen. It'll only end bad.
Same thing goes with people who eat, sleep, and breathe revolving around their children. That'll lead to a high likeliness of a 35-year-old adult-child who still lives at home with the parents.
It's all a give-and-take—a structured balance.
When you're with your family, be with your family. When you're working, try to set yourself up for less distraction and dedicate yourself to a good use of time.
being a work-at-home mom is possible
Just remember that as a WAHM, you're more distracted than a daycare-using mom.
I run my content through Grammarly and sometimes my husband or a literary friend to make sure I'm not publishing crap. I edit ruthlessly in those moments of peace to make sure I'm not producing hullabaloo.
But still, accidents happen—you have to accept that.
And if your audience or customers can't, then maybe that particular person or group isn't for you.
And that's okay.
You don't have to, nor should you even try to please everyone. You'll end up exhausted, worn, beaten, and, well, failing.
You're a dedicated work-from-home-mom.
You're not a robot.
work the right business for you
Here's the doozy.
The direct sales company I worked previously was not a good fit for me.
Prior to building Goff Creative, I was working in a way that required childcare—or treating my husband like a babysitter...
Clearly, that didn't work out.
In your case, make sure you're building a business fit for you and your situation right now.
If you're building online products, make sure you're building a helpful, reader-focused blog to support sales and benefit your visitors.
If you're doing a direct sales home-based business, make sure it's one you can do without throwing all of your starting profits into childcare. (Maybe something you can do over-the-phone or on your computer.)
Do what you can do.
You can be successful as a mother, wife or partner or single mom, and as an entrepreneur when you have small children at home.
And you don't have to spend all your money on childcare (when you can't afford it) to do it.
So mompreneurs, what do you do that allows you to work from home with your children?
Please share your thoughts with me @GoffCreative on Twitter.