Starting your own company is very much like having a baby: You begin with the seed of an idea and labor to bring it into reality, then dedicate yourself to nurturing your creation and helping it grow and flourish. The energy and dedication required to be a successful entrepreneur can be extraordinary. But what happens if you are trying to launch a business at the same time as raising your children?
As a business founder and mother, I’ve found myself in this position many times, trying to balance my entrepreneurial ventures with my efforts to create a warm and loving environment for my son. I won’t lie, I’ve struggled to find harmony between these two roles and more than once has one part of my life been momentarily overshadowed by the demands of the other.
With practice, however, I’ve learned some lessons that make it easier to create symmetry in my life between these two roles. Whether you are thinking of starting your own company (or becoming a mother!) or you’re already deep in the trenches, these seven tips to balance entrepreneurship and motherhood can help you make the most of both roles — and maintain your own sanity in the process.
Enlist Deputies at Work and at Home
One of the first notions that you have to rid yourself of as an entrepreneur and a mother is the idea that you have to do everything yourself. The belief that you have to have a hand in everything is often seen as embedded in the concept of being an entrepreneur, but attempting to tackle everything on the job and at home guarantees that things will fall through the cracks. I fell victim to this misguided theory when I first launched my business. However, I quickly found that relying on my talented team at work and extended support network at home produced better results across the board.
Create a Routine for Yourself (But Allow for Flexibility)
Between my company and my son, every second of my day is filled. Without an established routine, it’s too easy to lose track of what I’m doing in the middle of doing it, wasting time and leaving me feeling unnecessarily stressed. Even worse, without a plan, one role can easily overwhelm the other. Establishing a weekly routine with time set aside solely for my business and my family alike helps me stay on top of things and be more effective. That said, flexibility is key. Otherwise, that unexpected doctor’s appointment can throw a wrench in your whole week.
Set Goals on a Daily Basis
I’ve found that outlining my life’s big aspirations is easy. I have a clear vision for my company’s long-term growth and I know the important principles and values that I want to instill in my son. The smaller, day-to-day goals that will lead me toward fulfilling these ambitions, however, can be harder to set. Putting aside time each morning for a quick daily goal-setting session has helped me enormously. First, it allows me to see more clearly if I’m forgetting something important. Second, the action of checking off a completed daily goal — no matter how small — gives me a sense of satisfaction that helps nurture my own mental well-being.
Be Able to Roll With Life’s Punches
The key caveat to the practice of daily goal-setting, of course, is that you have to be OK with failing to meet those goals from time to time. Start by making sure that your goals are realistic. I personally found that my intention to go to the gym every day was too ambitious. Even the best-laid plans are going to fall apart every now and then. Every entrepreneurial mother will face baby spit-up on their dry-cleaned suit at some point. Accept that this is going to happen, recalibrate and move on. Dwelling on these setbacks will only mess up your routine even more.
Multitasking seems like it was designed for those of us balancing a company and a child, but trying to do both roles at once can easily result in doing neither role well. Before I figured this out, I definitely had times when I short-changed my son by attempting to answer a work email while playing with him. And I didn’t do my colleagues any favors, either, by missing an important question while trying to soothe my son. Whether you’re doing something for work or something for your family, dedicate all of your attention to that task. Being mindful can actually end up saving you time.
Make Family Meals a Priority
Carving out time dedicated solely to your family can be tough, and it’s easy to let the lovely idea of a family meal at the dinner table together fall to the side in favor of eating a sandwich in the kitchen while typing on your phone one-handed. If you’re able to fit just one daily activity into your life that revolves around your role as mother, however, family dinner is the way to go. Researchers have found that dinner-time conversations improve literacy and behavior.
Don’t Forget Self-Care
In balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship, forgetting to take care of yourself is easy. But you’re the glue that holds everything together! I learned the hard way that neglecting my own health, physical and mental, can lead to worse performance as a boss and as a caregiver. Between sleep, exercise and unplugging mentally, finding time to fulfill my own needs and recharge makes me more effective in everything I do. Sometimes this requires a little creativity; maybe gym time has to be slotted in at 5:00 a.m. But remember, building harmony between your role as entrepreneur and your role as mother starts by finding balance in yourself.