There's a darn good reason that the word mom comes first in "mompreneur." It's our first priority, how we start and end our days and in between we act as entrepreneur, slipping in and out of both roles as the day dictates. If you're a mom who is considering launching your own business but think you don't have the time, you may have to cross that "excuse" off the list after reading this. There's no "right" way to start/run a business and certainly no recipe for learning how to balance it all, you've got to find your own groove.
There are three common links that mompreneurs utilize to accomplish a good mix of mom and biz. They are discipline, routine and priorities. We also adjust these as our kids grow up and life continues to change. But implementing these into our daily lives helps bring happiness in the form of balance.
Jenn Moore, mom of two kids (ages 6 & 9) is Chief Marketing Officer at Modern Mom. Her typical routine looks like this: "My alarm goes off, I drag myself to the gym, check email, make lunches and breakfast for kids, walk them to school, check email, pick up kids or trade off with playdates so I can stay in the office longer, homework, drive to sports/dance classes, make dinner, kids go to bed, work for a few hours, spend a little time with hubby."
Jenn usually works about ten hours a day, seven of those while the kids are at school. When asked what is non-negotiable in her daily routine, Jenn says "Talking to my kids, asking about their day and really listening, being present. I never want them to feel that I'm too busy to care about even the little things they have going on."
Like Jenn, I've also made exercise a critical part of my morning routine whether I want to or not. If I don't get it done first, it won't happen at all and then I lack the energy and clarity to be productive. I rarely plan a meeting or conference call before 10AM. I spend most of my day after a workout in my home office handling business matters, social media and the family schedule. At 3:00 it's like the Flinstones whistle and I'm outta there, into the car for schlepping.
My kids are teens now so it's me who wants to be around them. I treasure dinner and evening time with the satisfying feeling of simply being together. It's not all rainbows and butterflies with two teen boys but usually they enjoy that quality time too. It's back to the computer in the evening for just a bit to tie up loose ends then downtime with my husband, a book or my guilty pleasure of reality tv.
Aviva Goldfarb is mom of two kids (ages 12 &14) and founder of The Six O'Clock Scramble Weekly Menu Planning Service.
Aviva typically works about eight hours a day. Her kids leave for school at 6:30AM, she goes back to bed until about 7:30 and then her routine begins: "I have breakfast with my husband, take the dogs for a hike for about an hour, which is also when I catch up with friends. I get to work around 9:30 and start by checking email and social media until about 10. Then I work on substantive things I have to do (writing, etc.) until lunch. After lunch I start plowing through my email inbox or whatever other projects need tending to, and delegating, answering, deleting at an insane pace. I usually have a phone or in person meeting over coffee at 2:00, then go back to clearing through my inbox until 4 or so when I focus on my other job, managing the household and shuttling the kids to activities. At 6:00 I start to focus on making dinner and we all sit down together."
Unlike Aviva, Jenn and I, Danielle Dobin, founder of start up Apifeni Activewear actually makes breakfast the more important family time for her and her sons (ages 4 & 6).
"As long as I am in town, I make morning family time a top priority. My husband and I have a hard rule that we don't check email at all until after our older son gets on the school bus. This way, our morning truly belongs to the kids. Otherwise, we would simply have our faces in our laptops all morning instead of focusing on them."
This makes me a tad jealous as our morning is more chaotic begging our teens to get out of bed, finally they grab a quick protein shake on the way out the door, not a big time for connecting at our house.
Danielle's daily routine looks like this: "There's no need for an alarm clock in our home. The boys wake us every day at 6:30am. We have breakfast and talk, I walk the dog, scan the newspapers. Then, it's off to the races with getting everyone ready for school. At drop off I get to visit with my friends before spending some time sitting in the parking lot checking and responding to emails and making calls. My car is definitely a satellite office! The next few hours before pick up are an intense mix of production meetings/ calls, marketing and frequently sales. After school we spend a half hour at the playground. The rest of the day is a mix of playdates, driving the kids to activities and conference calls. I try to schedule in-person meetings for the morning exclusively. We have dinner together as often as possible. After the kids are asleep, I am either back to work or working out! I'm a big fan of nighttime yoga classes that I attend after my kids are asleep."
Debbie Goldberg and her husband own six Fresh Brothers restaurants. She's mom to seven yr. old twins. Her secret to balancing biz and family is simple "Family always comes first. That's the balance. When we first started the business, our kids missed out on us a lot because we worked so much. Both my husband and I are making up for lost time - we cherish the family time now. I'm reluctant to be away from home during the week. My husband works way longer hours than I do because he's typically either in meetings or in the restaurant. It's important that they have a stable routine at home and that's important to me, too."
Debbie doesn't have a set amount of hours of work per week. She says "I work until it all gets done. I spend a lot of time in front of my computer typing away, emailing, on social media sites while promoting our business and networking. In the restaurant business, there are no 9-5 hours, which also works in my favor. I can make time for the stuff and the people in my life that matter - my husband, my kids, my family, my friends."
There seems to be a method to the madness; knowing your routine and sticking to it whenever possible, allowing few distractions. Of course life doesn't always go as planned so there's always tomorrow...a fresh slate to wake up with that "fire in the belly."
So while mompreneurs look for a daily balance between chaos and symmetry, we are most happy when the biggest ROI comes in the form of a well-adjusted family. Gotta run, my son's calling me!