Entrepreneurship is difficult enough simply because there are all kinds of obstacles that can keep you from your dream, and if you’re a mom, there are added struggles that might discourage you from persevering.
I started my journey as an entrepreneur before my kids were born, but it wasn’t always a smooth journey. After they were born, I struggled with my preconceived notion of what makes a good mom. I began to feel guilty about the amount of time I was spending away from them, even though I worked from my home. What was I depriving my children of by persisting in a push toward greater entrepreneurship? I became a mom because I wanted to have a family, so why was I continuing to spend so much time away from them? My guilt began to consume me, and I needed to find a way to balance my motherhood dreams with my dreams of owning my own successful business.
Here are some tips that I've discovered along the way with advice for shedding that mommy guilt, whether you’re already an entrepreneur or thinking about becoming one.
Don’t try to go it alone. You’re not superwoman. If you can afford to get some help around the house, it’s better to pay someone to do the laundry, shopping and cleaning. That way you can spend more time on your business and with your children. If you can’t afford to pay for help, you’ll need to create a strict schedule and stick to it. Include the kids in tasks they can handle, and tell them they’re helping mommy build a business so you can all spend more time together doing the things you love.
This sounds simple, but it works. If you have older children, enlist them to help in your business. They can file, send emails (first approved by mom, of course) or prepare lunch for the younger kids. Younger children can stuff envelopes, feed the dog or anything else that will give you time and give them a task. This worked for me, and it made my children feel like they were an important part of my business.
Schedule time with your kids. Running your own business is going to be rough in the beginning. You’ll put in long hours, with increasing anxiety over the time you’re not spending with your kids. Make it a point to schedule them into your day, and stick to that. Don’t disappoint them or you’ll feel even guiltier. Make your time with them business- and phone-free so your quality time together is not interrupted.
Welcome distractions. This may sound counterintuitive, but instead of asking your kids not to disturb you while you’re working, allow distractions. Answer their questions; give them that hug, or see to that problem. That way they feel satisfied, and you don’t feel guilty, so you can both quickly go back to what you were doing.
Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. You’re going to be pulled in many directions, so learn to say no to those things that don’t move either your business or your family forward.
Learn to take credit for your accomplishments. How does this alleviate mommy guilt? The more often you see yourself as a confident and self-reliant businesswoman, the more those qualities will rub off on your children. Believe me when I tell you that your confidence will be absorbed by them. A Harvard study showed that adult women whose mothers worked or were entrepreneurs grew up to be better performers in the workplace and earn more money — in fact, 23% more — than their counterparts who grew up with stay-at-home moms who didn’t earn an income.
Don’t compare yourself to other moms. Just do what you do best, and make your own rules. You’ll be giving more back to your children by becoming an entrepreneur because you’ll be sharing life’s lessons as you go along. Involve them in your day if you can, and share your day with them if you can’t. Your kids will benefit a whole lot more if you follow your dream. You’ll instill confidence, discipline, commitment, diligence, a positive attitude and a whole lot more.
Don’t deny yourself the opportunity for a fulfilling career. There really is no reason for any woman to feel guilty about wanting to pursue something she loves. The lessons you can bestow upon your children by running your own business will translate for them later as great life skills. Share your plan, your challenges, your successes and your disappointments. Give your children every reason to be proud of your efforts. These are the kinds of things that will bring you and your kids closer together.
Lastly, remember that children learn by example. Your persistence in this will inspire them. And who knows what greatness they will bring to the world! I love my kids and have shared all of my successes and struggles with them. They’ve turned out to be intelligent and creative in their own right, and are proving to be young people I am proud to call my own.
So what’s the bottom line? Make your children the reason you want to do this, not the reason you don’t do it.