Before I ever started this blog or my chocolate shop, I would have afternoons when I would put my two kids down for quiet time, then walk back out to a house that was all mine for an hour and a half. And I would think this
“hmm. I really wish I had some professional outlet to work on right now.”
I’d given up freelance copy editing two or three years before but was craving something work-ish again.
(As I am having this flashback, I cannot remember what my house looked like while I’d be thinking these thoughts. There was probably a dishwasher to empty and laundry to start and things to dust and wipe and organize!)
Then there are days like yesterday. My two big kids are in school, it is just me and my little man Reid all day–and a baby on the way. At the end of a day of laundry folding and birthday gift shopping and helping on homework and cleaning up accidents and all the usual, I am thinking something more like
“ha! I so don’t have this mom thing down, how is it that I run a business again?”
Every day I am always evaluating and reevaluating my priorities. As a mom, I’ve learned that different stages can mean big changes in how much I can manage. I was very fortunate to have a mom + businesswoman friend to go to when I was thinking of starting my chocolate shop. We were literally a day away from putting down money on our custom chocolate molds, and I called her and said, “Should we do this!?”
It was amazing to have seasoned advice, and I was thinking how I would love get the same insight from every mom-blogger or mom–businesswoman out there.
Sometime if you’re interested, I will have to give you the play by play of how a day usually goes around here. But in the meantime, I thought I’d share my big lessons learned, and what is often going through my head as I decide what to take on. Here goes.
Starting a Business While Being a Mom
/// the WORST of it ///
1. A business isn’t precious.
Sometimes when my business to-do starts to get a little big and hairy, I look at it and think, you won’t be leaving home in eight years, you won’t be making me drawings of the two of us holding hands. Truthfully, there are some ways in which a business just doesn’t measure up.
2. It is a trick taking phone calls while trying to clean rice crispies stuck to the floor and remind your children not to climb on the furniture.
When I was an editor I would handle calls all day like nobody’s business. I have to admit that now I get a little nervous picking up and saying hello, not so much because I’m worried about kid noise in the background, but I think my brain is just in mom mode. (I have a friend watch my little Reid one day a week and those days I am in more shop-owner phone-call-taker mode.) And yes, I am guilty of acting all pro on a phone call while cleaning up rice crispies.
3. There is a bigger chance of big priorities colliding.
There are often times when I have to let one thing go a little bit to catch up with another. I am fine with that! But the truth is that a family has big priorities, and a business has big priorities. Most of the time I can schedule these so they work out, but sometimes, it is a week or a month of full emergency mode!
4. Your business is often your me-time.
I’ve never felt like everyone should only accept a job they love and adore, but for a mom who has an option of starting her own business, I think differently. It should be something you truly enjoy or you’d better be making some decent bucks. Just my opinion. For me, I am just getting to the point where I can just take a week and read a book while still occasionally getting some sleep and making some family dinners. I’ve missed that!
5. It takes a while before you learn to balance, and you can’t have that time back.
I am finally in a place where I have some solid non-negotiables in my life. Favorite gym class on Tuesday, sitting down to listen to my kids practice music before school, taking calls from family and going to stop by friends’ houses, etc. I really felt like there was a learning curve for me, to know what to let slip and what to commit to. During that time, I was more rushed, more frantic with everything. That is a time you don’t get back—with the kids or the husband or your sisters or your friends or your parents. I think it is just good to make sure the timing is right before any big, not-absolutely-necessary commitment.
Starting a Business While Being a Mom
/// the BEST of it ///
6. You get the best ideas while folding laundry.
I feel like, as a mom, I deal less with creative-block or wondering what I’ll do for my next project. I have a good ratio of thinking time to doing time—I find plenty of time while folding laundry and bussing kids for the ideas to bubble up when they’re ready.
7. You don’t have the opportunity to get aloof.
I always think that as a business owner, I don’t have to guess what an average mom who has a budget to maintain and a life to run is thinking. Because I am one. And as a mom I do like having my toe in a business world that is growing and changing every day.
8. If something is going wrong with your business, it’s not that hard to put it in perspective.
We had plenty of moments when starting my chocolate shop when we thought a certain new detail might be the ruin of our business plan. After initial panic, I was always able to think, hey, I’ll always have my job as mom, and I like that one.
9. You meet the raddest people.
Seriously. A blog or business is a great excuse for meeting more cool people. The only trick is making sure you still have time for all your rad family and friends.
10. You’re already a master at going with the flow.
I am convinced that I am completely amazing at rolling with punches all thanks to my experience as a mother. When I really need to relinquish control or change a game plan, I rock at it.
11. You’re kids see you modeling making something happen.
Overall, I’ve had fewer chances to have my kids pitch in on small parts of my work and be a part of errands of my business than I thought I might. Maybe that will come still. But they are all about starting their own mini-recess shops or diving into a big project.
12. Doing housework is a treat once you’ve worked too long, doing work is a treat once you’ve done housework too long.
Who knew how much I could look forward to a whole day set aside just to cook and clean?
I know everyone’s experience is different, and I would absolutely love, love, LOVE to hear what you’ve experienced in work-life balance, kids or no kids. It is always a trick, and I think we can learn lot from each other.