Starting a business can be all-consuming. In fact, I find that in most cases it usually is. Same with motherhood. Yet, for so many of us, we are driven to do both. And we can’t imagine our lives without each of these important and fulfilling aspects.
And it is possible to do both of course. It can be tough, but it’s possible. But sometimes it feels like it has to seesaw from one extreme to the other over time. Months (or years!) will go by where you’re focusing so much on the business and feeling like you’re just going through the motions with your family. And then vice versa.
Even worse is when we stop to look back and realize both have been running on autopilot lately. Business and family have both just been happening, as you simply try to get through the days with your head above water. There’s no mindfulness about what you’re doing in either. No larger goals or reflection, or intentional growth.
But this doesn’t have to be the case for us. We can do both. And do it all well enough to be worth it (and let’s acknowledge the fact that we can do it all, we just won’t be doing it all by ourselves– we’ll have help!) if we consciously create a business and family life that work together. And are mindful about making sure they continue to work together over time.
While there definitely are times when you will need to seesaw a bit one way or the other (and that’s perfectly fine!), I truly think that for the most part, we have the power to consciously create a business and mom-life that fit together and work together to build the life that we really want.
When I started my business I wanted what they call a ‘lifestyle business’. Meaning that it would support my lifestyle and that was about it. No real higher aspirations for anything more out of the company outside of supporting me.
I didn’t want a team. I didn’t want an assistant or to rent an office. I didn’t feel the need for any more clients than I could handle working on all by myself. My five-year plan did not include growth in the form of a team, workspace, even a very aspirational revenue.
But with children comes change, (and I have a feeling it never stops). When I had my son, and he quickly began growing up and needing more care than I could reasonably provide while simultaneously working from home, I realized that I could not do everything myself.
I realized that I could either pay someone to take care of him more, or I could pay someone to take care of my clients more. I came to the conclusion that building out a team would allow me to take more time off, rely on others to help get the results I wanted for my clients, and allow me to begin setting myself up for the life that I now realized I would eventually want. Like having the flexibility to not be ‘always on’ in business while I was with my family. I realized I actually needed to run a company that was bigger than me because it would help me have more time with my son.
It was important to me from a mom standpoint, to be there to pick up my son from school. I had been used to having a babysitter with him until 5pm, but I realized I’d need to shorten my workday in order to be there for him after school.
From a business standpoint, it was always important to me to use my time as efficiently as possible. And also to get my clients the best possible results. In examining both of these things, which may seem contradictory at first, I realized that the best thing I could do was work on building out my team around the same time my son began school. Rather than looking into after-school care options, like it seemed all the other working moms were doing.
That way I could have the necessary help to rely on while splitting my time the way I wanted to. That’s just one example of consciously shifting my business to fit with my mom life, and how one can actually help you be more successful in the other if you make conscious choices to make it so. There are countless other times and opportunities to fit the two together. And there are countless other situations when you have to thoughtfully work out the options and opportunities in both business and family to figure out how to best make them fit together. And, of course, make sure you’re still accomplishing your goals.
Staying conscious of your overall goals in both motherhood and work sounds obvious, but I find it’s so easy to realize that months or even years have gone by without it. Being aware of what you want is the most important part in being able to then put whatever you need in place to be sure you make it happen.
It’s simply about thinking carefully about what you want in both regards. What are your goals for your business and what are your goals for your family life?
How can you create systems and plans for each that align?
Perhaps most importantly, be sure to revisit these questions regularly. Be honest with yourself if and when goals or even preferences change.
Make the necessary updates to stay aligned with what you really want.
The best part of owning your business is that you do get to make these decisions. You don’t have to do things the way it seems everyone else is. You don’t have to stick with something that makes you less than happy just because it feels like the way to create success in one or the other area.
Think it through and figure out a real solution that works for you and your family. Even if it doesn’t seem like the norm. And most importantly, remember that it can always change and shift over time– in fact it will probably have to as your kids and family and business grow and change.
Sometimes you’re going to be very busy with work, and sometimes you’re going to be in the weeds of motherhood. It’s not always a balanced harmony. That doesn’t mean you’re failing at something or that whatever you’re working toward isn’t meant to be.
Motherhood and business are both really hard and require a lot of seemingly unending effort. But obviously, as you know, they’re both so worth it. You don’t have to choose between doing great at one or the other.
You don’t have to wait to start your business or to push it into overdrive until after your kids go off to school or become more self-sufficient. If you want to do it now, you can do it now. You can create the systems and situations that work for you to build both aspects of your life into what you want, together.
About the Author:
Alessandra is the owner of pollina PR + marketing, a full-service boutique PR and marketing agency in Boston, Massachusetts. She’s also the founder of the Female Millennial Entrepreneurs Boston networking group, and the host of The Female Millennial Entrepreneur Podcast, a podcast by and for female millennial entrepreneurs. She lives in Boston with her husband and 5-year-old son. You can find her over at pollinapr.com.