Delicate balance: mothers in business

As a mother of three children under six years old who owns her own company, I spend a lot of time doing one thing while thinking I “should” be doing another. Sometimes I’m building Legos with the kids and I’ll remember I’m on deadline for something I’m writing. Other times I’m sitting at the computer responding to a client or doing research on my target audience, only to have a nagging feeling that I should be back downstairs drawing silly sketches or playing hide and seek with the kids.And I know I’m not alone. Mothers in business, “mompreneurs”, have particular challenges when it comes to the issue of balancing business and babies. Without question, priority #1 is my family. I chose to be a mother a while back and have no doubt that this is exactly who I am supposed to be. But my journey to become a mother who also has a fulfilling career has been a not-so-graceful dance between passion, commitment, ambition, guilt, joy and inspiration. Can we truly have it all?

I’m collecting thoughts, witticisms, rants and such from women who are the primary caretakers of their family and who own their own businesses or who want to return to work but feel conflicted about it. If this describes you, please post your comments here.

Some questions to ponder:

  1. Why do you (want to) work?
  2. What are your biggest challenges as a mother/business owner?
  3. Does your husband/significant other support your choice to pursue a career?
  4. Does your work satisfy you? If so, why?
  5. What do you have to sacrifice to be a “mompreneur”?
  6. What is the most gratifying part of your work?
  7. What inspires you?
  8. What do you hope to teach your children by being a mother/business owner?
  9. What does “success” mean to you?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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11 comments

  1. 1. Why do you (want to) work?
    I’ve always worked bc I was the primary breadwinner and it was never an option for me not to work. But I’m also glad I have had to work. Being valued by people outside your family, contributing in some way to something bigger than yourself and having relationships in the wider world that have absolutely nothing to do with your role as a mother are really important. Not to mention the fact that if something happens with your spouse (death, divorce, illness), you have a means to support yourself independently.
    2. What are your biggest challenges as a mother/business owner?
    Not enough hours in the day.
    3. Does your husband/significant other support your choice to pursue a career?
    Yes. And he has been the biggest supporter of my leaving a successful corporate career to start my own business.
    4. Does your work satisfy you? If so, why?
    I love my work. It is creative, keeps me mentally nimble and I get to work with really smart, interesting people.
    5. What do you have to sacrifice to be a “mompreneur”?
    A regular routine and a steady paycheck. As a result, I have also sacrificed full-time childcare which also makes the juggle that much harder.
    6. What is the most gratifying part of your work?
    Having control of the choices I make, professionally and personally. And I love when I meet random people out in the world and I tell them what I do for a living and they spontaneously say “OMG, I love that website!” http://www.babynamewizard.com or http://www.namecandy.com
    7. What inspires you?
    I always remind myself that on their deathbed no one says “Gee, I wish I had spent more time at the office.” When things are tough I remind myself that having control of my time and being able to make my own hours is priceless. I have gotten to know my kids much better since I started working for myself and they are an inspiration.
    8. What do you hope to teach your children by being a mother/business owner?
    There are lots of different ways to be “successful”. And if they have a creative idea, they should just do it.
    9. What does “success” mean to you?
    Not having to answer text messages from a crazy boss at 6 am! Also, making enough money to support myself and still be able to have dinner with my family most nights.

  2. The questions you included in your post are similar to the ones I ask myself all the time! Working Mom Guilt is the worst. And, it’s painful! However, I will say that now, my children are 9 and 12 and I get tremendous gratification in sharing my successes with them. They are now old enough to understand and even appreciate the sacrifices I make to run my business from home. It wasn’t always like that! But, with their age and awareness comes their ability to ask very tough questions and make astute observations – neither of which I always want to hear! Because they are my most constant inspiration, I have to keep my “focus group” plugged in and feeling coorperative. Keeping them, alongside the hubs and my clients, happy and humerous is a huge daily challenge. But, I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, maybe a few things… 🙂

  3. 1. Why do you (want to) work? I get SO much out of my work that I think I am a better mother, wife, friend, etc. Plus, I get to meet groovy chicks like you 😉
    2. What are your biggest challenges as a mother/business owner? Time. Simply put, there is just not enough time to do everything well all of the time.
    3. Does your husband/significant other support your choice to pursue a career? Thankfully yes. I could not do it otherwise.
    4. Does your work satisfy you? If so, why? So very much! I love creating, learning, and being pushed every day to do better.
    5. What do you have to sacrifice to be a “mompreneur”? Separation between work and home. Oh, and sleep.
    6. What is the most gratifying part of your work? Seeing other people get something out of it too.
    7. What inspires you? I am constantly inspired. Life is full of ideas and opportunities. One just has to be open to seeing them.
    8. What do you hope to teach your children by being a mother/business owner? That passion drives happiness and that a happy, fulfilled mom is the best kind!
    9. What does “success” mean to you? Success is a feeling and the specifics are constantly changing but I know when I am there.

    Thanks, Lara!

  4. Jen, I love your comments! This is like a manifesto. You are inspiring and
    magnetic because you clearly get your own value and know what you offer to
    the world. Yay for fulfillment and inspiration!

  5. Rachel, You have done such an amazing job in your thought process around motherhood and business. Love the title of your post: “Between Deadlines and Diapers.” That about sums it up.

    It is critical (in my book) to put my family first, but I also firmly believe that we have to balance meeting those deadlines that our clients rely on. Just love your post!