I’m writing this article from a beautiful view we have of the mountains out our back door. We’ve just finished remodeling our house after 10 years of young kids while both myself and my husband worked. The cleaning was a shocking experience. I realized (probably after looking at the fingerprinted glass we just cleaned a couple days ago) that the house could have been cleaner throughout the years if I had gone into a different field, like cleaning. :) Many things are that way when you try to combine two great things. Making room for work while at home is tricky at times. It generally means (for us) that the yard doesn’t look as nice as it could, and there are deep stains that don’t come out. At times, there are fights with children that don’t have time to get resolved.
Growing up with a Working Mom
As I was growing up, I thought my mom (who also worked and got her degree from home while raising us and later worked as a school teacher while still raising us) was lazy because she was frequently tired and didn’t want to take me to my friend’s house when I wanted her to. Little did I know, her life didn’t revolve around just me! I’m much in the same position as her now, however, as the owner of my own company, I have more flexibility. I set my own hours (so grateful for that!) and work when there aren’t performances to attend. I get to volunteer in my kids’ classrooms, take them out to lunch on their birthdays and ride bikes to school with them.
Still, many times, I am burning the candle throughout the night and into the morning. I had many, many late nights while studying for my MBA, raising my kids, working and maintaining my personal life. However, I have created an amazing opportunity for myself and small businesses; that is helping other families, store and business owners with the skills they need to be successful. Office space is wherever your laptop can fit (sometimes waiting in the school pick up line while in the car), and as fast as you can work.
What can Your Kids Learn?
Teaching your children the importance of hard work and confidence in their dreams, I’ve found, is essential to their growth. I love taking the time to be a part of my kids’ lives. One of my favorite things to do with them is the Children’s Entrepreneur Market. Every summer they beg to run a business, price things, market, and I cannot say NO to that! I also love to come to their classrooms and teach the Junior Achievement business classes.
It is tricky to accomplish the amount of work that small businesses need to get done with quick turn around. However, I've found a few tips that really help me find success.
1. Time Management
This one is easy to say, but much, much harder to do. For me, doing 30 minutes of work, 10 minutes with young ones, and back and forth from there works best.
With so many tasks in different areas of your life, it’s important to turn off one part of life and turn on another. Shut off business when the kids come home from school. Shut out technology/social media distractions when working. FOCUS HARD :) I adjust my schedule throughout the day, and generally catch up on work and everything else at night when it’s quiet. I’m a night owl so that works best for me, however, some people prefer catch up the next morning and I hear that works too .:) This helps me relax when I go to sleep, start the next day alot more easily, and I stay true to the deadlines.
3. Delegate and loosen up
Don’t be afraid to let others help to support you through this. No one can do it on their own. If they tell you they can, take it from a Marketing expert -- they are trying to SELL you something! Family members and friends are great for kid swapping so you can accomplish more in a set amount of time. Trust that if it's meant to be, it will all work out. It won't be perfect, but if you let go a little, you'll see much improvement in the skills and abilities you're striving for as weird as it sounds.
4. Show up on-time and prepared to work!
When I was getting my MBA from home, the other guys in my program knew they could count on me to be 1) on-time to the project meetings 2) organized and knew what needed to be done and 3) ready to get to work. This was always so funny to me because they were the ones I thought had it altogether. Being a mom helps me be able to manage many different tasks and do them well.
5. Set professional goals to not make personal excuses
This is hard but it’s important. We can all meet deadlines if we plan ahead. To go back to the MBA experience my colleagues knew that I had already read the readings, understood them, asked the professor about the issues at hand, and could easily train them on the correct protocol. This only happened because I knew how hard it would be to keep up with the schedule, and did everything ahead of time so there was some flex if I needed.
6. Patience Patience Patience!
This one is pretty self explanatory! Nothing comes easily, good things come to those who work hard and fail and work hard some more and fail some more and keep trying. Many times, I take a deep breath and then go eat chocolate in the pantry.
7. Have a FABULOUS TEAM
I can’t say enough how amazing my team is here. They are all dedicated women who are not only in the top of their fields but also have lives outside of work. We laugh together, bond over Doris Day quotes, and always help to support each other through each project a client gives us-think of a football team that works as well off the field as on.
8. Make sure it’s right for you
Honestly, this is a hard path. Many people think you might “have it all” and are “keeping it together,” but there are stresses that are not seen by the naked eye. Rarely are personal pursuits, cleanliness, or casual days given the dedication they deserve. I continue to pray everyday that this is the path I’m supposed to take. There are many days when problems (work or personal) intermix and don’t work out the way they were planned to. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it's not.
Whatever your goals are, it’s important to not give up on them and make sure you’re doing them for the right reasons. We each enter this life with talents and abilities unique to us. Having love for your family doesn’t change that, and planning for an incubator to work on those talents and skills while raising kids means that some things will slip through the cracks. If this is you, make a plan that works for everyone involved and stick to it.
Emily G. :)