(This is a guest post by Amanda Abreu, a member of my MasterHeart coaching program. Thanks Amanda!)
Being a solopreneur requires a high level of dedication and persistence. Being a solopreneur and a parent takes a whole other level of perseverance and grit that is difficult to quantify.
That’s because parenting while growing your business poses its own unique set of challenges. When you are building a business, and balancing a family, you have to take into consideration the lives and needs of other people, often times before your work. Plans change. Deadlines sometimes don’t get met. And one sick child can turn your whole schedule upside down. It can often feel like you move two steps forward, only to move three steps back.
When these twists and turns happen, it is easy to feel discouraged. Overwhelm can start to creep in, and you may wonder how you’ll make it, especially when those around you appear to have it all together.
I am a new small business owner, and a mother of three small children. I am eagerly putting my work out into the world, while changing diapers and making sure everyone has both shoes on their feet. There’s no exact blueprint for how to succeed under these circumstances, but knowing there are other people on the same road as me certainly helps keep me focused and optimistic.
I am grateful to have a group of knowledgeable peers who are also walking a similar path as me: they are experienced business owners and parents. And I recently asked them to share their insights with me. How on earth are they doing it? What do they know that I don’t? Their responses did not disappoint.
(The following contributions are all from MasterHeart members.)
Kim Marie has two teenagers and she’s been in business for 10 years. She says, “I've been finding it easier lately to have “to do” lists more than having things scheduled in the calendar. I try to cross off things on my list each day to feel the progress unfolding, and remember to be gentle with myself if things don't happen.” She goes on to say, “I so often have tons of shoulds that tell me I'm not doing enough, but then I look at what I'm doing as a parent to support their development, and how they're turning out, and I'm back to surrender again!” Surrender. There is such a gift in letting go of our expectations and just leaning into what is going on around us, don’t you think?
Melanie McGray is also a mother of small children. She says, “My suggestion is to get help! Even if it is just a few hours a week, the time is essential to a clear and focused business.” She suggests trying to secure a mother’s helper who can come by after school. They are usually inexpensive and you can be home at the same time. Melanie has also benefited from a co-working space for mothers with childcare, which sounds like a fantastic resource!
Angie Evans is a veteran at balancing both the parenting and business roles. Her biggest takeaway is, “Ensure you sleep; avoid the temptation to work until 2am every night. Schedule time to work and when you're done, you're done. Focus fully on what you're doing - kids, work, you-time. Checking e-mail while kind of playing with the kiddos just doesn't work.” Seriously, if we are working around the clock and running ourselves into the ground, we can’t be there for our children OR our clients. Such wisdom here. Oh, and, yes, the children notice when we aren’t giving them our full attention. This is a great reminder to be intentional with what we are doing throughout the day.
Nikki Pava suggests co-working sessions done via sites like Focusmate. The accountability can make a big difference when you take the time to show up for your work. Joanna Bartlett does her work in the waiting room, during appointments for her son. “I know I have about 50 minutes to crank out a blog post and maybe edit the last one I wrote, so I get it done.” She reminds us that even teenagers require a lot of work, “I figure they'll grow up one day and actually move out or really not need me. And then I won't know what to do with myself!” Ah yes, I sometimes forget they do grow up! :)
Captain Myson is a father who is no stranger to this parenting rodeo. He’s developed a set of helpful tips that help him with his young twins (boy and girl), who he cares for on a regular basis. He suggests you have a focused goal. ”Have something VERY specific you’re going to work on whenever you sit at your computer. Don’t just go to the laptop because you have a free hour --- you’re likely going to spend that entire hour trying to figure out what you need to work on. Instead, each time I go to my computer, I know exactly what I want to do.” This makes so much sense!
He also credits having clear structure and boundaries as a way to minimize distractions and interruptions. Teaching children when they can and cannot come into his workspace allows him to keep his focus on his clients during a call. As far as household duties, Captain identifies meal planning and minimizing outside obligations as other sanity-savers. He also schedules into his day simple things like mopping the floors and cleaning. This way, if it’s in the schedule, it’s more likely to get done.
However, sometimes it’s inevitable that you’re going to need to work with a child in your lap. Captain says that comes with the territory. “What I do at such times if I really need to work is to carry out tasks that don’t require so much brain power to process. That way, I’m rocking the child and still doing my work.”
His last tip is pretty simple: ask for help. “It gets to a point where you just have to acknowledge that you can’t do it all on your own all of the time. It’s up to you to decide what you outsource -- house chores, cooking, social activities management, or business tasks such as website, email newsletter, content, marketing/ads; etc. But whichever direction you choose to go, having support from someone (or people) can go a long way in freeing up some time for you and giving you some much-needed space to rest.” I encourage you to think about your situation - is there anything you can get help with today?
And when all else fails, when there seems to be just a little more chaos than you think you can handle, Jeannette Hill gently reminds us, “You are laying a foundation now and there will be more time once they are older. The years go quickly. It's definitely more a marathon, but I am ok with that. Give yourself a break, and know that you are doing the best you can. Everything you do now for your business, even if part-time, will come together and serve your clients now and into the future.” Ah, that takes a little bit of the pressure off, doesn’t it?
Hopefully you’ve gained some new takeaways from these experienced parents, and you can integrate them into your business practice. I am grateful for my colleagues’ candor and expertise, and I know a few strategies I’m going to be implementing straight away. Right after I find my baby’s other shoe.
Amanda Abreu of CreatingHer.com is passionate about helping women find their voices. She helps women empower themselves with unapologetic authenticity, to reclaim their right to themselves and their own self-preservation. She holds space for women to access self-love, to experience transformation, and to do things they never believed, but secretly wished, they could do.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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