On the other hand, it can be incredibly stressful. Your working days can be short and lonely, you have the pressure of running a business on your shoulders which means amazing up days but also crushing down days. You are most likely the parent that needs to cover all things relating to the kids, as you’re ‘at home’ right? It’s hard to set boundaries.
Let’s not forget about the financial implications. Yes, there are many mothers who are running successful businesses that pay them an incredibly good salary BUT it is very unlikely that there wasn’t financial sacrifice or commitments before that happened. Be it in the form of letting go of a full-time salary, or using savings to start a business from scratch, or not being able to take a salary when the business is in its infancy or after a bad month. There is often a financial sacrifice somewhere along the line and we should be honest about that. Money is often a worry.
Some mothers feel like starting a business is the only option available to them with the cost of childcare, short school hours and lack of flexible working opportunities. But many choose to start a business because get it right and it can offer a great work life alignment.
So, lets assume we are running businesses alongside raising a family because we know, or we think we know, that it is a good idea and it is what is best for us right now.
How can we make it work?
Here’s some tips:
You are most likely running a business that you are passionate about. There is a temptation to never put the laptop down. I know many mothers in business that work until 1am every night, especially when they are also caring for babies / young children or just starting out. But it is ESSENTIAL that you set at least a couple of boundaries, for your own mental health. For example, you don’t work on a Sunday afternoon. Or, no phones between kids’ bath and bedtime. They are not easy to stick to but write them down and TRY REALLY HARD to stick to them. You will feel much better if you do.
We are all guilty of it (emailing a contact while also searching for kids’ party bag fillers) but research shows that our brains are wired to work on tasks serially, not in parallel, meaning we really should only be focusing on one thing at a time. Work in short burst, of either 30 minutes (set a timer and do a task before it beeps) or two to three hour intense stints. Use something that will help you, like Brain.fm on Spotify (it works) and then take a break to do something kids / house / personal. Reality is that we do need to fit in these tasks during the day but try to separate time for work / personal admin.
View Your Progress Over Time
You’re a small business, you need money to sustain your business and pay your bills and you want success now. But reality is that you are unlikely to be able to work from 6am – 11pm every day. You are a mother and you (probably) need to collect kids, feed kids, put kids to bed etc at some point. Don’t beat yourself up about what you can achieve with the time you have available. Don’t compare you progress to anyone else as we all have very different circumstances. Rather than looking at how productive your day was, look at how productive your week or month has been and see you progress as a bigger picture.
To be efficient we need routines.
Try doing these things:
- write down each night the one thing you want to achieve the next day
- set aside an hour on Sunday to plan all the meals for the week
- check emails in the mornings and evenings only
- Give yourself a power hour each day, an hour when you work on your most important task for that day ONLY
- get clothes out the night before for all the family, saves you having to think about it in the morning
- try and keep meetings to the same day (or two) each week
Look After Yourself
You can’t pour from an empty cup. Cliché but true. If you are feeling overwhelmed, put everything down and rest. Take half a day to remember what’s important, write a gratitude list, think about why you are doing this and what you want to achieve, don’t answer any emails, get your house in order. You need sleep (baby wake ups aside), you need to drink water, you need to exercise, and you need to protect your mental health. You will get MUCH more done in a short space of time.
It’s probably very likely that you don’t have all the time in the world (or all the time you would like) to focus on your business. So, you need to prioritise. Identify the most important action you can do for your business and do it first. Then if you do only that, you’ve still made progress. Stay focused and try and do one thing at a time, do it well and then move on to the next. That can be hard if you are an ‘ideas person’ but it is essential to making progress.
Find Your Network
Nothing can feel lonelier that being a home, with a baby or by yourself if your kids are at home, having no one to talk to and worrying about your business, if you are doing the right thing, money etc etc etc. Get connect to a network like join.allbymama.com – find others in the same situation as you and make some business friends that get what you need.
Join the ALL by MAMA network at join.allbymama.com and receive a free hashtag guide for your business as a welcome gift.