When I started this enterprise, I had a 2 year old (CJ) and a 4-month-old (Addie), and the delusion that being self-employed would actually make work-life balance easier. Cute, huh? It didn’t work quite like that, and after a year of working from my home office, taking my babies to full-time child care outside of the home, I packed up my office and moved to a space in Springfield.
For me, it wasn’t that I couldn’t get any work done while I was at home. Quite the opposite – I couldn’t get any home done while I was at work. I love my work so much, I found it much easier to go back to research, planning, writing and strategy for my clients than cooking, cleaning, folding laundry and whatever else you might imagine a work-from-home mom does in her “spare time.”
Work-life balance is about all of it, right? So, I’ve learned a decade of personal life lessons, as well:
It is possible to work too much. I’ve had a sign hanging in my kitchen for years that says, “Please help me not to be so busy making a living, I forget to make a life.” It’s true that you can lose sight of what’s most important when you’re working too much.
True friends celebrate your success. It only takes starting a business to see who wants to see you succeed and who might revel in watching your failure. Even some of my fiercest competitors are among those I consider friends — who share a passion to grow our companies, the profession and the industries we serve.
Your priorities become clearer the busier you become. It used to be my standard answer upon being asked how I was to respond, “busy.” Yuck. I don’t need to be busy. I don’t have to be busy. I want to be busy — but only with the things that matter. Anything that didn’t matter that was keeping me busy had to be deleted from my to-do list.
Four month old babies don’t care that you’re on a conference call. Heck, even 8 year old kids don’t care that your on a conference call. And, teenage boys who are celebrating their Fortnite conquest already forgot you told them you were on a conference call. Having a quiet place to work at home and away are essential.
It’s ok to say no. No explanation needed.
Kids learn by watching their parents work ethic, balance, priorities and skills. I want CJ, Joshua and Addie to see that their parents get up every day, set goals, stretch themselves, work hard, and even have some fun. They see how to handle joy, stress, teamwork and relationships inside and outside the home.
If I’m happy in my job/career, I’m a much happier mommy when I’m home. I love my work, and my children know it. There is something wonderful about showing them that you can pursue something that is fulfilling and helpful to others.
Technology is a God-send for today’s working mother. When I started this business ten years ago, I still had a Blackberry, and Facebook was only for college students. I’ve been an early adopter on many new technologies that have kept me sane and allowed this balance, like my iPhone and Zoom virtual meetings. This includes using Shipt for my groceries, StitchFix and Poshmark for my wardrobe, Pinterest to house my millions of ideas, and Amazon Prime for almost everything else.
Vacations and family time make me a better consultant and boss. Unwinding and giving my mind “white space” are essential to making me the best at what I do. I have come to understand that I’m only at my best when I first take care of my mind, body and spirit.
Freedom is allowing yourself the permission to rely on help. It’s ok for any mom to ask for help. I’ve learned that I have a wonderful support network that doesn’t mind my asking for help transporting the kids, getting them ready in the morning, picking them up from practice, or keeping them overnight. In fact, they relish the opportunities they get to develop strong bonds with my children too. It’s not only for me that they’re growing up too fast. That goes for their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends who love them, too.