It’s no secret that motherhood can be overwhelming, but add on running a business and you have a challenging world full of pressure, elation, happiness, guilt, pride and a million more emotions…
In the world we live in, being portrayed as a mother on social media can carry quite a burden – having to always look and act the part, but in reality it can be quite the opposite.
As a team of mums who support each other in business and in life, we decided to sit down and answer some Q+A’s all about how we really feel with this juggling act we call #bossmumlife.
Here’s PART THREE through the eyes of working mothers…
Louise (Founder Dare to Launch, Mum to George 6 & Estelle 3)
“Our family always comes first, but that doesn’t mean we don’t do anything else.”
- What do you believe are the pro’s and con’s of being self employed and having kids?
PRO’S – I designed my business to fit with life as a parent. When everyone was telling me I needed job security and paid parental leave, I knew I needed total flexibility and autonomy. The only person who can decide whether I make it to the school athletics carnival or kindergarten reading morning, is me.
CON’S – Every time I try to think of a con I dismiss it because while there are challenges – I mean seriously it’s challenge CITY over here some days – they are challenges that I choose over fixed employment every day!
- What are your tips for self motivation/banishing procrastination if you are overly tired/stressed from kids?
I see motivation, procrastination and fatigue as separate issues. If I’m overly tired or stressed and I know any work I get done will be of poor quality, I make a choice:
– Rest/refuel first, work second if it’s possible. If I’m tired I need to rest. I sleep, read a book, catch up with friends for coffee, do a workout. If I chill first, I can often do better work in less time. But it’s not always possible, so:
– Be a professional first, rest/refuel second – my son’s surgeon had to remove his tonsils on the day we were booked in regardless of whether he was up overnight with his child, had an argument with his wife or a shitty morning. I have to be my best self whenever I have a client booked in, and I do it no matter what else is going on because I’m a professional. If I’m working from home doing creative work, or other solo work that’s possible to avoid, I try to remind myself that I’m the only one responsible for where my business/success is at, so I’d better get out of my PJ’s and step into professional mode.
If it’s not fatigue but procrastination – that’s tricky. I’m an excellent procrastinator. I don’t think procrastination is about time management or fatigue. I think it’s about fear. On a good day, I recognise that my mind can make fear look very logical – I’m tired, I’m overwhelmed, I’m stuck, I’m too busy, my friend needs me, I’m not ready, I need more training, I should make cupcakes for kindy first. But really there’s some fear somewhere. So I try to look at my thoughts – what am I telling myself about this work, and how can I change the narrative to reduce the level of expectation, stress, doubt, fear or inflated ego I’ve put on it. Reframing is everything, our thoughts create our feelings. But on a ‘bad’ day, I can do avoidance like a champion. You name it – binge watch Netflix; speed read a Kindle Daily Deal; shop for things I don’t need; help out a friend; call my mother. Even, my husband would dispute this, even, clean the house like a champion. Going to a co-working space helps on the bad days. My ego makes me do very productive things when other people are watching.
- Do you find yourself comparing yourself to other mums?
I try to compare myself to other parents who parent in a similar way to me, have similar aged kids, with similar resources, and run a business. I get excellent support, inspiration and ideas from them!
- Do you feel pressure to over achieve as a mum/career woman and ‘have it all’?
I definitely don’t want it all, that sounds like really hard work. But I do like to have a little bit of everything! The ego does sneak in a bit sometimes. We hear a lot more about well being, balance, social impact and following your purpose in the media now, but our society still tends to idolise those who have achieved success in the traditional (financial or status) sense in terms of opportunities available.
- Do you experience mum guilt when you have to pick your kids up or have kids around and you have to answer calls? Do you tell clients the truth or lie about what you are doing?
It can be a juggle! But no, I don’t feel the guilt. Our business is the reason we get more time with our kids than most working parents – if the cost of that is having the kids entertain themselves for a time while we get some key work stuff done, that’s cool. It’s easier now, at 3 and 6 we can strategise with our kids more than when they were younger. I sometimes tell clients, and sometimes don’t mention it. Depends on the circumstances. Most of my clients know my hours change in school holidays and they’re supportive. Again, I designed my business with parenting in mind, so I only work with people I actually enjoy working with.
- How has having a business partner in the same situation helped the changes of becoming a working mum?
My husband is my business partner and it changes everything. No one can really understand the ups and downs of running a small business, or the ups and downs of being a primary parent unless they’ve lived it. While our balance goes up and down depending on our priorities, we both know both roles equally. We’re both aware that while one of us has been full-on at work, the other has been full-on at home – so the support is awesome.
- Were you excited to get back to work after maternity leave or had anxiety?
I was excited to go back to work because I knew I could pop out for a couple of hours at a time, a few days per week and my babies would be with my husband while they were really little. I would never have gone back so soon if I had to put them in childcare while they were tiny and breastfeeding. To be honest, I used my mat leave as a cover for starting the online component of my business! I took three months ‘off’ but kind of made out like it was 12 while I busily created and launched my first online offering. It gave me room to create something and put it out there.
- How did you cope becoming a mum for the first/second time and putting kids as first priority over career?
My husband and I always knew that neither of us wanted to be a full-time stay at home parent or the primary income earner – we wanted to share both roles. Our family always comes first, but that doesn’t mean we don’t do anything else. I’m a much better parent when I also get to create and achieve in my business, and so is my husband. That stuff is also great for kids to see.
- What advice can you give to other mums – whether they work for themselves, for someone else or are thinking of starting work again?
Train your family. Sometimes in order to liberate ourselves, we have to liberate spouses/partners from their perceived role as the primary income earner who works really hard and then kind of dabbles in the parenting and household stuff. Whether your job is the most stable, highest-earning, more significant, has the best benefits, deals with life-threatening situations or NOT – if doing work that matters is important to you, it’s important to the family! The household and parenting stuff is for the family to manage as a team, not something they may or may not choose to ‘help you’ with. For single parents, working or not, I salute you. You’re amazing.
- Do you feel if you put more real content on social media of being a mum, that clients would view you as not ‘as motivated’?
I think you can be authentic without being totally transparent (I’m writing a book about it!). Lots of clients or prospective clients are either aspiring for a certain lifestyle, or seeking to feel taken care of. If you look like a hot mess most of the time online it will surely impact your brand. I’m grateful to real life professionals like my Dr, solicitor and checkout operator for washing the baby vomit out of their hair, putting on a clean top and providing a professional service in which I am the primary focus while I’m in front of them. I also have meetings with our branding and marketing specialists in which we’re all nursing, soothing and changing babies while creating epic outcomes – but I know them personally and have already built up a trusting relationship with them. The way we do work is evolving, I’d say follow your intuition on this one, but remember that we all have personal brands, whether we realise it or not, and what you put into the world sets up what people expect when you walk into a room.
- What positive changes have you found in yourself/your business partner since becoming mothers, that can help you day to day with clients?
Because I work with service-based professionals who are transitioning from being in paid employment to working for themselves, I think I now attract a different kind of client who is looking for a mentor who has a similar situation to them.
- (Fill in the blanks) – Working mums should know that…
If you’re looking for advice or guidance, go to someone who has lived experience doing what you seek to do.