I started my business, Brand Meets Blog, when my youngest child was a mere 4 months, and my oldest had just turned 3. I had a passion for blogging and the blogging community and felt I had something to offer; thanks to the enthusiastic enthusiastic encouragement of my mentor, Alli Price and my supportive husband I took the plunge and set up shop.
I had absolutely no idea what I was in for!
The business took off and before I knew it I was struggling to get everything done. I loved the work and was thrilled to see the business growing so fast but along with the excitement came an unease about the amount of time I was investing in it, and the corresponding lack of time being invested at home – particularly quality time for my husband. While I could mostly work during the kids sleep, taking the baby with me to meetings and interstate events while my daughter was at her kinder/childcare meant that kids were still getting a lot of me…my poor husband was the one missing out.
With Bear at the Qld Kelloggs Mum event
The business community, especially online, is rich with passion and diversity. What I really needed though, was someone to hold my hand and tell me how to do it with two kids in tow. I started looking around and listening to the tales of other business owners. I heard from some women that they worked through the night, or while in hospital days after giving birth. I heard from others that they dedicate whole portions of the weekend to work, while their husband takes over the reigns in the house. While making sense to me, none of these options felt like they were right for our family.
You could say I wanted it all – the part time job that fit flexibly around the family and allowed me to fulfil my mothering instincts while being an awesome wife. Doing it all with a sparkling sink and a sweet smile of course!
After months of working til middnight every night, I decided I needed to make some changes.
One day I stumbled across an article entitled “I started a business with a baby” – hooray! A woman who could tell me how to do it, or at least how she did it! I was totally dismayed when I started reading and discovered that this Mum had her child in childcare full time – not because of any opinion about childcare but because what I so desperately wanted to hear was that I could do this without going down that route. Like many mums in business, I’d started this with the dream of family flexibility, and instead found myself with less time than before. I was trying to find a way out and after reading another article that wasn’t where I wanted to go I decided that in the absence of a roadmap I was going to have to forge my own path.
As much as I’d like to take credit for this realisation, I must acknowledge the gentle prodding of my husband in this process; he reminded me of the things I’ve always said and always stood for as well as that I wasn’t on my own, this wasn’t a burden that was “mine” but “ours”. He’s a wise man, and I’m very grateful for his patience!
My first step was to set some boundaries – no more working every night. I allowed myself 3 nights a week to work – Monday, Wednesday and Thursday – and the rest were to be away from the computer. The second set was to outsource by taking on staff to help with my work, as well as a cleaner to help with the housework.
All this was guided by an over-riding principle about my priorities. I decided that I want to finish the day feeling like I’ve spent time with the kids and my husband – that comes first. While I could have worked full time and gotten everything done, that wasn’t part of my vision for my family or my work. I decided that outsourcing, though limiting my earning potential, wasn’t going to send me backwards and would mean that I was better able to stick to my priorities.
Making the decision NOT to work 24/7, and not to focus on the financial aspects of a business can be a frightening step. We live in a society that largely assesses success based on the fiscal circumstances and growth of both individuals and businesses. By letting go of that yard stick, I’ve released myself to forge a path that is distinctly right for us. I’ve realised that if I wasn’t working, I’d be doing “something” because that’s part of who I am – feeling guilty about my desire and passion for work is futile; however letting it take over my life is dangerous.
I continue to love me work and to work very hard at it but I’m also making sure I take the time to both enjoy and nurture my family. For me, this is a choice I’m more than willing to make!
Are you a mum in business, or thinking about that step? What are your big challenges, choices or questions about “having it all”?