Want to be a mompreneur? And not just a so-so mompreneur, but as an awesome one?
Think it can’t be done? Think again.
Choices We Make
As a mom, you probably either work outside the home or you’re a stay-at-home mom, but no matter which it is, maybe you’ve dreamed of starting your own business. You want very much to be able to stay home with your kids, but you also want to be able to contribute financially to your family and do something that gives your life purpose, outside of your role as mom.
What can you do? And how can you do it, with kids at home? If you find a way to work from home, will you be shortchanging your kids?
I Was Once You
I can speak with some authority on this subject because I was once you.
My girls are grown now. I have, as of this writing, one about to turn 27 — still shocked at that — and the other will be 24 this coming April. Both live on their own and both are engaged to be married.
But when they were little, I wanted to work from home. And I did it despite all the challenges that are inherently associated with raising children, much less building a business.
I Am An Entrepreneur! What An Epiphany
It suddenly hit me this morning — I’ve been an entrepreneur for almost 30 years! How did that escape my notice? To me, I was just a mom who worked from home. Two entirely different animals, in my mind.
Here is some of my back story so you can see where I’m coming from.
When my oldest daughter was born, I was part of the corporate world. I was working as a tech writer for a now defunct financial institution, Coast Federal Bank. I worked in the training department, writing training guides and manuals. Prior to that, I’d worked in the insurance field, at Blue Cross of California, as a tech writer in the IT department.
When Sarah, my oldest, was born, we didn’t feel we could do without my income so I, reluctantly, kicking and screaming, went back to work. I hated every minute of it and badly wanted to be home with my daughter.
Add in the countless times either I or my husband had to decide who could best afford to take a day off when Sarah was ill and couldn’t go to the babysitter’s, and that just compounded my frustration. Having to use all of your allotted time off for both yourself and your child can quickly find you buried within the sick day hole. Or you stay home when your child is sick, but go to work when you are. Right? I know.
Baby Number 2
Then, three years later, our youngest, Katie, was born. That’s when I made the tough decision, financially, to stay home. I figured I’d get to be home with my babies, but we might not have two pennies to rub together. Ugh!
Long story short, I ended up taking a home study course in legal transcription, secured some clients, and began working from home. Back then, in the olden days of technology, we didn’t have internet access, like we do today. The idea of running an online business was, well, not even on the radar.
I would have preferred to do freelance writing from home, and even looked into it, but disregarded it because I had no idea how to get started. So I ended up doing a rather boring job from home, but at least I was able to be with my girls.
I was running a home business. I had become an entrepreneur. A mompreneur.
I didn’t actually think of it as such, which is why it took me almost 30 years to realize that I’ve been an entrepreneur for a long time. It’s just that I never saw it that way. To me, it was simply a way to stay home and still make a little extra money.
Not Always Easy — But It Is Worth It
Was it always easy? Not by a longshot. Was I able to do it successfully? Yes, though at times I felt like a field mouse caught in a tornado.
Would I do it again? Absolutely!
And nowadays it’s easier, in many respects, with the internet allowing us to use Skype and other forms of communication to interact with our peers and clients.
But one thing will alway be the same when working from home and raising kids: You must learn, and quickly, how to expect the unexpected.
Be Flexible or Go Nuts
It’s inevitable. The day you have a tight deadline and have carved out what you expect to be uninterrupted time, is the day your daughter wakes up with the stomach flu. Suddenly that window of quiet time that you were counting on is a whisp of a dream. Not going to happen. Not even close.
And then there are the people who, knowing you’re home and supposedly understand that you’re working, don’t really get it. Somehow, because you’re home, you’re available. They want to drop their kids off with you for a while so they can keep an appointment. Or they call you and ask you to pick up the carpool on what is supposed to be their day because something came up.
You name it, it happened. It was a constant juggling act.
But It Can Be Done
But I’m here to tell you that if you want to build a home business and stay home with your kids, you can do it. Yes, there will be difficulties. Sometimes it will be downright hard.
But you can do it. And it is worth it.
Now, I know some moms who tell me they won’t build a home business because it would take time away from their kids. Huh? Okay, if you don’t have to earn an income, or don’t want to, that’s one thing. But if you would like to create something of value of your own, in addition to your children, you don’t have to chose between your kids or your business. You can have both.
And the upside is, since you’re home, your kids have your attention all the time. Yes, you may be working while they’re home, but you’re there with them. They know that. They can even be in the same room with you, playing, doing homework, reading.
And when they’re sick, you’re not forced to take a sick day, with the associated guilt that always goes along with it. I remember those days all too well.
Yes, maybe it will throw your day into a tailspin, but you’re home. You’re with your child. That trumps everything else.
What Worked For Me – And It Can Work For You Too
And there are ways to make it work. Here are some suggestions that worked for me, when I was raising my girls and working from home:
- If your kids are school age, cherish those quiet hours during the day when they’re at school. Schedule the bulk of your working tasks during those hours. Don’t waste them doing other tasks, like laundry and cleaning, that you can manage later in the day. Get as much of your work done as possible while the house is quiet.
- If they’re not yet in school, find ways that they can be entertained while you’re working. My youngest started out in a playpen in the same room where I was working. She graduated eventually to one of those free-form child pen thingamajigs that kept her contained, but gave her plenty of room to play. I set it up right where I was working and it was portable. Once she became more mobile and was able to climb over the side, I did most of my work during her naps and in the early evenings, after she went to sleep at night or my husband was home. Or I let her play in the same room I was in. The point is, I was where she was.
- When your children are home with you all day, get them in the habit of playing where you can see them, giving them books and toys and games they can play with by themselves. Let them learn to entertain themselves, while still knowing you’re right there.
- If they’re a bit older, but still home, give them some simple tasks that they can do for you. Even if you have to redo some of it, they’ll feel like they’re helping and kids love to help. Until they’re teenagers, but we’ll leave that for another day, won’t we?
- Be flexible. I cannot stress this one enough. Kids are unpredictable. They do things you don’t expect, they get sick when you’re least prepared for it, and they have a tendency to pick your busiest days to decide they don’t need a nap. If you let it, it will make you bonkers. Try and build some flexibility into your day so that you can roll with the punches just a bit, if necessary.
- Communicate with your clients, constantly. When things come up, often you can renegotiate a due date or reschedule an appointment. People who work with moms, and know that you have children at home, can be very understanding. The key is to communicate. Always, always keep them in the loop.
- Get help, if you can. I didn’t have anyone come into the home to help me, but I enrolled my youngest daughter in preschool for a few hours each week, when she was old enough. Only till noon, and not every day, but it helped me to have some time to work while she was in preschool and her sister was in grade school. It’s good for them to learn to play with other kids and have that social interaction. I would have done it whether I was working or not. Instead of viewing it as getting some quiet time for myself, I saw it as a valuable and fun experience for her.
- Know when you’ve been beat. There will be days when you’ll simply have to throw in the towel and not even try to get anything done. A child with a fever, who’s not feeling well, often just wants mommy. Nothing else will do. Stop fighting it and either renegotiate your due dates or try and get some things done after your child is asleep or your husband comes home.
- Don’t take on too much. Know your limits. Leave wiggle room in your schedule as much as possible. Because you and I both know you’re going to need it. And one of the great things about building your own business is that you get to decide how much you want to work. You’re the boss.
- Learn to say no. Those people I mentioned who don’t get that just because you’re home, you’re not available? Early on, get used to gently but firmly letting people know what your work hours are and when you may be free. Often, I found, it was just that they really didn’t understand what I was doing. It’s up to you to tell them. And guess what, sometimes they’ll take your kids home with them on a play date. You can reciprocate later on, when you’re able. I can’t tell you often that was a lifesaver for me.
Best of Both Worlds
The main thing to remember when building a home business while raising kids is that even on your most difficult days, you’re still home with your kids. You get to be there when they come home from school. You’re able to take care of them when they’re sick.
And children benefit from seeing their mom doing something worthwhile. Watching you juggle your family and work tasks, while growing a successful business, will be a wonderful life lesson for your kids. They may not say anything, they may not even realize it, but they’re learning from you all the time.
My Daughters Not Only Survived, They Flourished
My daughters both did very well in school. They developed a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility. Today, they’re well-adjusted, happy girls, both following their own paths. They learned to pursue a vocation that they loved, and not just make a living. They both went into fields that they chose, instead of the field choosing them, as happens to so many.
Those early days of home business building and child rearing may not have always been perfect, but it was worth every minute.
We don’t have to give up our adult self and stop making a difference just because we have children. We’re multifaceted ladies, and raising children is just one of those facets.
You are so much more than simply a mom. Or an employee. Or a business builder.
You’re paving your way toward a better life, and blazing a trail to the future for yourself and for your family.
And if it’s not always easy, well, what worth doing ever is?
It’s not that it must be easy. It’s just that we’re willing to make it work.
Did you enjoy this post? Do you know anyone who’s struggling with this very thing right now? Click here to tweet to your friends. And leave me a comment below about how you’re successfully building a business while raising children. I’d love to hear what works for you.