People ask me all the time how do I balance being a mom and an entrepreneur and my answer is always the same, ‘it is hard and always changing, BUT I do think you can do both…..both only after your youngest is 4 years old!’. Women always chuckle but in my case it could not be more true!
I started my first venture before I had kids at 24 years old, when I went out of my own as an independent architectural designer. It was a great first adventure that I look back on with deep fondness because 99% of my first clients were genuinely exceptional people who I am still friends with today!
But I also remember the great amount of stress that came during that time from the small itty bitty fraction of clients that were not as exceptional as the rest. The stress of it all from that itty bitty little percent lead to some not itty bitty health consequences! Now fast forward three years and I unexpectedly get pregnant and I remember the room spinning when I was told ‘your pregnant’, first of all because I was told I probably would never get pregnant on my own and second I was thinking about all of the estate homes I was working on that had way more than 9 months to go before completion! And what is super ironic (and so God’s hand at work!) is that it turns out that all that crazy health stuff that I was dealing with made me dig into natural medicine and unbeknownst to me I was suddenly perfectly able to get pregnant- who knew! Not me!
Oh and did I say I was thinking about how I had 9 months to prepare, actually by the time I found out I was pregnant I was about through my first trimester so I had very little time to get my ducks in a row to prepare both my business and me for a baby! While the baby was in my belly I was like…….. ‘no biggie, I will just put her in full time care and my career will still take priority’ The moment that little girl came out of my belly I instantly realized unconditional love like I had never experienced and I was like…. ‘from this moment forward you are my priority and I want to be with you every second of every minute!’
I often say that for the first few months of my oldest kiddos life I did not need to eat food because I was too full on eating my own words! It was literally like a switch for me and God opened my eyes. I knew I wanted to be with her more than I wanted to be on a job site but I also knew that I had committed to these awesome people and their beautiful estate home projects and I would not let me clients down! So in that moment I had two births, the birth of one a little miracle and the other, the birth of the power struggle of motherhood and working. Early on I made it work by literally just strapping her to me while I worked on the computer and being blessed to have someone come over to help in my home so that I could race home between meetings and nurse and then race back out. I knew I could not maintain that balance long and when little girl number 2 came along and both of my girls ended up having a terrible run of health I knew what I had to do was to stop working and focus on their health. And focusing on their health would also allow me to try and work on mine. The stress of running my own business and constantly being in and out of doctors and children’s hospitals with two sick kids took its toll on me and set me back to some of my health issues I had before kids but this time my hair even started to fall out. So in one way it was not an easy move but in another way it was the easiest decision I have had to make. But the cool thing about hitting the pause button on things like business is that you can always hit the play button down the road when the time is right and that is just what I did! For four years I focused on getting my girls healthy (which entailed countless doctors visits, surgeries and digging into natural medicine and whole foods) but during that time I knew I still had big dreams so I started actually working on my book and a few other ventures just when I could. It really was the perfect time to do that. In their healthy streaks I would write a few more pages of possible content for my book or read up on the topics of the other ventures I was wanting to pursue and when they were sick I could simply put it aside. When my youngest turned 4 is when, praise God, we finally discovered what it was like to be well and so the time was right to hit the play button and get back at it! I really think even if I had children with the picture of perfect health, that I could not have done what I am doing now and be their mom in a present fashion before they were 4. To me 4 years old is a magical age! At 4 you are still stinkin’ cute but you are also suddenly a pretty capable little human! So for me, my youngest being 4 years old and healthy turned my life from simply being in survival mode to being in ‘get r done’ mode. What I discovered when I got off pause was that the balance with work and kiddos changed. For me, it went from simply trying to make sure that they were safe and not crawling into places they should not while I was working, to actually them wanting quality time with you to play games or do crafts or just visit. During this, early on, the realization hit me that if I get frustrated with them and tell them to just give me some peace, they would not be happy and I would be frustrated because they would most likely still pop in my office every few minutes asking me if I was done. So from the start of my new venture back into business I decided that I would just make them a part of what I was doing. I chose to work form home so that I could maximize both my time with them as well as my time working without wasting time on things like commute. When I would be in my office working they would pop in and instead of being frustrated by the interruption I would explain to them what I was working on and ask them what they thought about it. I found that including them in what I was doing made them feel a part of it but they would also get board of chatting about it and decide on their own they would rather go play. Or when it was reasonable, I would take them to job sites after school and we would discuss what things I needed to look at or address and again, I would get their thoughts on it as well. Even when I was working on my book, they would get paper and work on theirs and I would get their opinions on mine and it made it fun (well mostly fun, working with kids is always stressful at some point!). Including my girls in my entrepreneurial journey has also inspired them to start their own businesses! They launched their first official business over a year ago (at age 8 and 11) and now as a family we can talk about their ventures as well as mine while Dad, who is a very wise business man, chimes in to guide all three of us on how to improve our businesses! So being a mom and a business women is never without stress but I think giving yourself grace to focus on your kids while they are young, make baby steps during that time towards your goals and then including them in your journey when you are ready to launch is a great recipe for success!