Becoming a small business owner is hard stuff… throw in a kid or two (or four) on your hip and the challenge escalates quickly. I’ve been at this mompreneur thing for a little over 5 years now and have encountered a lot of challenging and rewarding seasons throughout my business. So, I decided it was time that I shed a layer of skin and show a vulnerable side of my business and my heart in hopes that it would encourage at least one other momma who is struggling in this season. Here is a little behind the scenes about what I have learned and what nobody told me about becoming a mompreneur. I will warn you, the first half will seem like I’m being a big “Debbie Downer,” but I promise if you hang with me to the end that it will be worth it!
The Vicious Cycle of Guilt
You will find yourself in a cycle of guilt. Guilt that you are spending too much time on your business and not enough playing with your kids. Guilt that you took that extra hour at the park instead of the inbox or you ignored a phone call that was a potential inquiry because you were reading them a book. Guilt that you aren’t contributing enough financially or that your contributions are inconsistent because you own an unpredictable business. Guilt that your child watches too much television so that you can get through your daily workload. Guilt that they are eating eggo waffles again for the 4th morning in a row and longing for the energy and ability to wake up earlier to cook a hearty breakfast for them. Guilt that housework seems to pile up unexpectedly if you aren’t careful. Guilt that your spouse has to work all day and come home to kids that desire their full attention while you cook dinner. Guilt when your business succeeds but your home life is suffering and, conversely, guilt when your family is thriving but your business is hanging on by a thread.
Loneliness is Real
You will feel lonely. In this season of business calls and baby coos you may find yourself feeling alone. It is difficult enough to run a successful business and keep your kids alive, much less feed your social life. Sure you have social media to stay connected, but you are bombarded with perfect images with white backgrounds and white sheets (and you laugh/cry because nothing in your house has ever stayed white for more than 10 seconds... Coming from someone who bought a white couch with 3 kids). You have the best intentions in your friendships but sometimes play-dates are really just so that you can take an hour away from being tugged at and actually finish a cup of coffee while it is hot (the first time). It’s hard to really do much for your own personal emotional and mental health.
You will be exhausted… I mean so exhausted. Remember when you brought that sweet bundle of baby wrinkles home from the hospital and they still smelled new? Remember those nights that felt like they would never end, where you found yourself up every 2 hours either tending to the crying baby or wondering why the baby wasn’t crying? Flash forward to being a mompreneur- even when the kids sleep through the night you still can’t because you can’t stop thinking about all the to-do lists and a plan of attack for the next day. 10pm seems to be the best time to set long-term business goals, make financial decisions, and respond to the emails on your phone hoping that the light won’t wake up your snoring husband. You will be exhausted.
Your priorities will change. What once seemed like the most important things to you will seem somewhat insignificant. You will learn quickly that color coordinated to-do lists are overrated and that sometimes the best to-do lists are written on the back of your grocery receipt or a Chick-fil-A bag. Your priorities evolve as a business owner just as they do as a mother.
Standards and Expectations
You won’t be able to live up to your own standards and expectations. When I started my business I had just left a job that I loved but it didn’t allow me to love my family well because it prevented me from raising our son. Back then I thought I could do it all. I could love my family well, tend to my business well, feed my family well, feed myself spiritually well, all while rocking a perfect manicure and curled hair and sitting in my Joanna Gaines inspired living room with the whitest of white couches. Fast forward 5 years and some days I feel like I am back at square one.
You will rely on your spouse more. I hate asking for help. I am a strong, independent woman and I don’t need a man to help get the job done. Relying on my husband’s help was -and still is- a daily battle of my pride. Asking for help is SO hard for me, even if it is just something as small as moving the car seats from one vehicle to the other or taking the trash to the curb. BUT I need to do it for my own sanity and to prevent myself from becoming bitter toward him when I become silently overwhelmed.
But luckily, through all of these struggles, I have discovered a few saving graces for my sanity and my business and the rewards FAR outweigh the challenges that come with being a mompreneur. This is the good part I promised in the beginning.
Ways That Help Me
Set a daily schedule This may seem silly to most, but setting a schedule in order of priority will help alleviate the stress when things don’t go quite as planned. I try my best to set a schedule each day in increments that allow me to take breaks and enjoy time with my kids. Just like when I was in college and would give myself study break rewards with an episode of Grey’s Anatomy and a bar of dark chocolate, I reward my to-do task success with 30 minutes of kid snuggles or running in the yard (or if I’ve REALLY knocked it out of the park, a Target run).
Connect and network with other mamas It is SO important in this journey to not feel like you are doing it all alone. Schedule play-dates and mom nights out if nothing else than for a little relief of your sanity.
Understand that “Mama-Time” is non-negotiable Don’t feel guilty in asking your husband to watch the kids for a few hours so you can go sit in a coffee shop and people watch or run to Walmart without a fussy toddler. You deserve a little time for self-care and frankly, you need it to remain sane for your family and your clients you are serving.
Lower your expectations and then lower them again It is so important to understand that “doing it all” is impossible! Once you realize that, there is incredible freedom. Outsource things that you don’t HAVE to do Order a meal kit like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron so that you don’t have to plan meals, or opt for grocery pickup instead of wrestling kids in the grocery store. Hire some extra help with the housekeeping, outsource some of your workload, or hire a sitter so you can have blocks of deep work. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help or find ways to alleviate stressors.
Why I Love Being a Mompreneur
Honestly, as long as the list is for things that have been unexpectedly hard, this list could be twice as long.
I love the freedom that I have to dictate how I spend my day. I love that I can choose when to work and when to play. I love that being my own boss means I don’t have to ask for days off to take care of sick kids, or an extended lunch break so I can go to my kids' story time at school. I love that owning my own business means that I can show my children first hand what it is like to have good days and bad and that they can see my journey in creating something from nothing. I love that being a mompreneur means my kids are part of my business story and that I can relate to other women who are on this journey as well. I love that I can answer emails while snuggling a sleeping newborn and take calls while in the school pickup line. I love that I can set my own schedule and take a week off for a family vacation (albeit unpaid vacation time… I need to ask my boss how to still get paid for my vacation time). I love that this business I created allows me to serve my family and other families daily. I love that owning my own business means each day looks a little different and I never have the opportunity to be bored.
I love that through the anxiety and fears, owning my own business draws me to the Lord daily for guidance and strength. I decided a long time ago that this business I created isn’t really mine after all. I give 100% credit to the Lord for the clients he brings through my studio doors, the bills that get paid, the creativity and skills He brings to me, and the lives that I have the opportunity to impact with the gift He blessed me with. Having the mindset that it is not all dependent on me is a huge weight lifted. Owning a business has deepened my walk with God and given me a whole new perspective on trusting Him and relying on Him for my needs.
So mamas, if you are considering starting a business or if you are a seasoned mompreneur, I want to encourage you to continue fighting on the hard days. We all have days that seem like a mountain too big to climb, but the rewards far outweigh the struggles. Your little ones are so proud of you!