Being a mom and a CEO requires grace under fire. It takes practice not to let panic register on your face in a meeting when your child’s school number pops up on caller ID, and real discipline to keep the laptop closed when you’re spending quality time with the family. I have 2 boys under the age of 6 and I’ve built 3 businesses from the ground up – having it all is marvelous. I wouldn’t exchange being a mom for the world, and my work is the creative outlet for my life purpose, which is helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
But having it all comes at a price if we don’t achieve balance. I used to believe that there was no such thing, but I’ve learned that if I can’t achieve balance everyone loses. My kids don’t have an effective parent, my husband doesn’t have a present partner, my business doesn’t have a competent leader, and I just feel miserable. Here are some of the ways I’ve learned to find balance and cope with competing priorities as a Mompreneur:
Put on your oxygen mask A good friend of mine, also a Mompreneur, said to me one day “taking care of yourself first is like putting the oxygen mask on yourself before putting one on your children on an airplane. If your family loses you, they’ve lost everything.” I realized that I was taking care of everyone else’s needs first, and of course at the end of the day when my energy and time had been all used up, guess who felt like she was losing her mind? It isn’t selfish to put yourself first, do what you need to do to preserve yourself so that you can continue to be a strong support for your partner, children, friends, employees and clients.
Stop pretending you can do it all I have always had trouble asking for help. Somewhere, down deep, I thought I had to do it all. I started by asking my husband to help me find more balance when my marketing company began to grow. When both our companies saw an uptick, we decided to hire someone to get the boys from school a couple days a week and help keep the house under control. Getting the help I need has changed the way I feel about every part of my life because I don’t have to burn out feeling responsible for every last detail.
Forgive yourself Oh the mommy guilt, it will take you down every time. I have learned from experience that I’d much rather face someone in the boardroom than walk out the door on my crying child. Nothing we ever do feels good enough some days when it comes to meeting the expectations and needs of others, let alone the insane expectations we put on ourselves. Relax and take a deep breath, everything will be ok. And you know what? My kids move on the minute I walk out the door while I dwell on it all morning – there is a lesson in that about learning to live in the moment.
Connect with the meaning One topic I talk about frequently with my clients is connecting with meaning. We get so wrapped up with what we think we should be achieving that it all becomes meaningless. Fulfillment doesn’t come from hitting a sales number; it comes from knowing that you get to spend some downtime with your kids on a dream vacation, that’s giving them the gift of you. Or maybe you decided that having our own business gave you the best shot at changing your family’s circumstances, that’s giving your kids the gift of choice. When you feel like you’re about to break, connecting with the meaning – the why – of what you’re doing to help you bend.
Launching and growing a business while growing a family is difficult, but possible. Balance doesn’t have to be elusive, it just requires that we get clear on what we really want and need, and the discipline not to get distracted. Making yourself a priority, getting the support you need, letting go of guilt and focusing on the true meaning behind your hard work will help you find the balance necessary to succeed.
Are you an entrepreneurial parent? I want to know how you manage it all – what do you let go of it? What is non-negotiable when it comes to balancing family and work? Share your tips in a comment below and they may be reposted on our Facebook page!