Are you a mom and feel like you can never get any work done for your business?
Do you often feel guilty when you spend extra time on your business instead of with your children?
How can you let these precious moments with your children go on the back burner occasionally so you have make your dreams come true?
Balancing the titles between a Mom and a Business Owner can be extremely difficult.
I've got 5 tips that might be able to cure that guilt and allow you to have a healthier balanced scale between your titles.
1. Let it go
And I mean it.
This comes first.
You can’t do anything without it.
Here it is:
Let go of the guilt.
All of it.
You feel guilty for neglecting your biz.
Guilty for neglecting your mama duties.
It’s a common feeling – it creeps up into your heart and says that you aren’t doing enough.
That YOU aren’t enough.
It’s not true.
You CAN be a successful creative business woman AND a lovely mom.
But you’ve got to stop feeling guilty about everything.
Once you’ve checked step one off your list, the following steps will help you to combat guilt by prioritizing what’s important and focusing on your goals.
2. Schedule your days but stay flexible
Schedule each hour, then roll with the punches.
Isn’t being organized and flexible a contradiction?
At first glance, yes.
But knowing how to balance organization and flexibility helps you to keep the wide-angle lens on life.
Rather than thinking of organization and flexibility as opposites, think of them as two different steps in the Mom and Biz dance.
If you don’t schedule your time, you won’t know which time slot you’re borrowing from when you need to be flexible.
We homeschool so your day might look different mine.
But I’ll share my schedule to give you a framework.
Biz-life: 8 am – 10 am
The kids get up, eat breakfast, work on chores and can play.
I’m on my computer checking emails, posting on social media, writing patterns.
Anything I need to do on my screens gets done here.
I keep the kids on track with reminders, but I’m drinking coffee and working.
Mom-life: 10 am – 12 pm
School together at the table.
This means worksheets, memory work, reading time.
Mom-life: 12 pm – 3 pm
After lunch, we head outdoors for what we call “adventure school”.
We observe nature, collect leaves, sketch nature scenes, go for a walk.
I like to save big, messy art activities for days when the weather is inclement.
Biz-life: 3 pm – 5 pm
The kids enjoy some quiet time.
They can read, play separately (to give them a break from their siblings) and T.V. is allowed at the end of quiet time.
I spend more time on the computer, but if I’m teaching a crochet class that day, I dedicate this slot to preparing for that.
I need to gather supplies and print off patterns.
Sometimes I crochet during this time (with tea nearby and Gilmore Girls on the screen).
Mom-life: 5 pm – 7 pm
Dinner time and family time.
We play games after dinner or have a movie night.
Biz-life: 8 pm
Kids are tucked in bed.
This slot isn’t strictly biz-time, but my husband and I watch one of our favorite shows while I crochet.
That’s our schedule in a nutshell!
This month I had a huge deadline.
Like, hunker-down-and-eat-meals-out-of-the-freezer-and-get-it-done-NOW kind of deadline.
So, what did I do when I had to work for two days straight on my biz?
I borrowed time from my mom-life for my biz-life.
Since we do school year-round and don’t take breaks when public school is off, we can afford a few days off when it’s needed.
I like that kind of flexibility in my life.
When the deadline had passed, I owed my mom-life a few slots of time.
Instead of working in the morning, I sat in my chair in the living room and was totally present with my kids.
Instead of working for the afternoon, we went to the library or grabbed hot chocolates at the local book store.
Instead of crocheting while watching a show, my husband and I opened a bottle of wine, snuggled on the couch, and watched a movie we’ve been wanting to see.
Can you see how I borrow time?
I slipped out the biz-life and replaced it with mom-life for a few days.
And you know what?
After that huge deadline, paying back time to my family was a much-needed respite!
Flip the situation: you all have influenza for a week.
There’s not going to be a lot of time for your biz.
Pay it back when everyone is healthy.
Think about your own life situation and how you can make a similar schedule.
3. No mixing!
Don’t do it.
Ron Swanson (the memorable boss from Parks and Recreation) said it well, “Don’t half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”
You aren’t doing your kid or your biz any favors when you scroll through your Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest feeds while attempting to parent.
No responding to emails.
No packaging orders.
The reverse gets tricky.
I can’t totally condone saying, “ignore your kid while you work from home. If he’s bleeding – too bad for him, it’s biz-life time!”
BUT, you should schedule time once a week where you work on your biz sans children.
And I MEAN sans children.
For at least 3 hours a week you should not be in the same building as your child(ren). (Moms with newborns get an exemption here, okay? I’m not an ogre!)
Find a sitter.
Don’t have money?
Find a friend who wants to trade babysitting.
Or ask Nana.
Or swap with your husband.
For the sake of your sanity and your biz – do it.
I started having a “night-off” once a week and I wish I’d been doing it since I became a mother.
One night where I don’t have to figure out dinner and wrangle kids to bed.
One night where I can work on my biz, go out with a friend, whatever!
My husband and I agreed on an evening and he stays home with the kids. (This also means I encourage him to go hang out with his friends for an evening!)
Besides this night off:
1. Schedule times you can be 100% mom: no screens, no working on your biz, be totally present with your kid(s).
2. Schedule times you can be 100% focused on your biz-life: don’t feel guilty that your kid is totally content playing on the floor without you, napping, eating cheerios in the high chair, and (dare I say it) watching a show or movie.
4. Use television to your advantage
If your kids watch any amount of television, then use it in the most productive way possible!
Work on your biz.
It’s 100% biz-life time!
I’ve found that when I limit the amount of time the television is on, my kids will sit and watch a show for an hour without bothering me.
But if I keep it on all the time, they are only half-interested and I can only half-focus on my biz.
I only let them watch television at the end of quiet time.
For the most part, they are good about playing and reading quietly (and separately) until that time.
And when I’ve given my kids slots of time where they get 100% of me (remember, no mixing!), then they are more content when I need to focus on something else.
5. Big picture planning
Are you expecting a child?
Planning a vacation?
Are you hosting visitors from out of town?
Figure this into your big picture schedule.
Make sure to extend your turnaround time to accommodate these events.
Like Mei says, “Under promise, over deliver”.
Give yourself maternity (or adoption) leave.
Take the time you think you need and double it.
If you have an online shop, each listing should say, “Check our shop announcement for current turnaround time.”
That way, you can have a designated announcement spot and don’t have to change each listing each time when you need to adjust for big life events.
This is more important when you are in the season of life when you are adding children to your family!
I opened my Etsy shop when I was very pregnant with my first-born.
My hats were selling like crazy on Etsy and craft fairs.
I made sure to communicate with my customers and keep my turnaround time manageable.
Moms, take heart.
You’ve got this.
Let go of the guilt.
Schedule your days.
Keep the boundaries.
You can be beautifully successful in BOTH lives: mom-life and biz-life.
Abbey Swanson is mama to three little ones and an unashamed yarnophile who is passionate about every aspect of the process, from dying and spinning her own yarn to designing and crocheting her own patterns.
You can see more of her work at The Firefly Hook where you can find whimsical essays, free patterns and practical tips as well as updates on her current projects and classes.