People always ask me how I do it all. How have I run my company and been an active mom over these past 9+ years? I am sure I will look back – once I have time to take a breath – and wonder the same thing. I am terrible when it comes to allowing people to help me with my kids. I have never had a nanny/babysitter except on an occasional Saturday night out. I think I have pretty much just committed myself to work and family. I have just made it work and kept my head screwed on. Here are some tips for how it has worked for me:
1) Home Office – I have 17 employees at this point but have always made sure I work from home and we maintain a home office for the business. There are too many sick days, snow days, drop-offs, practices, and games etc. to deal with having to go somewhere. Being in my space allows me to stay within a routine no matter what happens. Yes, it is much easier now that my kids are older. I can leave them in another room and go to my office and work. I remember the days when it was harder and I had to have my eyes on them 100% of the time, keep them quiet (thank you lollipops), and deal with their ever-changing moods, all while trying to run the business.
2) Incorporating Work & Kids – I am lucky to have a business that incorporates kids’ experiences and activities so it is a natural fit for my kids to feel excited about what we do. For example, if I had to spend the weekend checking out some new play places and introducing myself to the owner, I could tell my kids we were going to try out an awesome new bounce house (so it was a WIN WIN!). Over the years, I have become more and more open with my kids about the business and the nuts and bolts. I have learned how important it is for them to understand what it is I am working on so when I tell them to hold on for 20 minutes when I am doing something important, they don’t automatically feel shafted as my second priority.
3) No Social Life is OK – I was so worried when my kids were younger about not having a social life. I saw all these mom groups getting together for lunches and nights out drinking wine and wondered whether I would regret not having this amazing network of mom friends when my kids are older and don’t need me as much. However, there was simply no time for this at all for me in those early years. Don’t get me wrong, I had friends but I just wasn’t able to invest time in building this big group of girlfriends that I was seeing on Facebook having so much fun every day. As my kids have gotten bigger, I have been able socialize more, so I would tell those working moms with younger kids just to sail through those younger years and not to worry or feel guilty about what you are missing. I know there are all these articles about the importance of mommy friends, but a few good friends who understand you is all you need.
4) Volunteering at School – From day 1, I told myself you can’t feel guilty! You can’t do it all. It is okay to NOT sign up to volunteer. The guilt comes on many levels, but most of all I was concerned my kids would be upset I was not there and jealous other parents were. I wanted to make sure I created very special memories for them in the times I did volunteer. For example, I was invited to speak to their grades about being an entrepreneur. I could tell that they were so proud of me and they got more out of that and appreciated it more than if I came in once a week to help cut paper for the teacher. This isn’t to disrespect any moms out there that do spend time in the classroom and help support the teachers. I am grateful and so appreciative of all of these moms/parents. They’re a godsend. My mom was one of these moms. I am just not able to be one of them, so have had to be selective with my contributions and let myself off the hook of guilt for not being one.
5) Daily Exercise – Exercise is the one thing I make sure I squeeze in almost every single day. It keeps me sane. I feel like a totally new person after every run. I have figured out how to do calls and write emails while I am running and I listen to books and podcasts to squeeze it all in. In the early days, I was doing all that on top of pushing the stroller. I also started yoga four years ago which has been so great for me because it is the one time I put the iPhone away and totally decompress.
6) Take Your Laptop – I always take my laptop with me wherever I go. Whether I am at soccer practice or gymnastics with the kids, there is plenty of down time to get work done. I am not a small talk chit chatter. This is the perfect time to get my stuff done! When we take drives on weekends, I am always doing work while my husband drives. When I am going to a doctor’s appointment or getting the car serviced, I have my laptop with me and am working. Every second is precious in my world.
7) Stay Healthy – I hope I am not jinxing myself, but I have been sick very rarely this past decade. One week of sickness can set you back big time when you are pulling this balancing act. It is super important to get your sleep, get in your doctor’s visits, go to the dentist regularly, etc. Luckily, I am very organized with these types of appointments and in tune with my daily health, so am proactive and preemptive when issues arise.
8) Planning Like a Pro – I am completely on top of my work and kids’ schedules. I have every hour mapped out in terms of what I need to get accomplished in a particular day. Yes, things come up and plans change, but being organized and on top of the schedule is what keeps things flowing on both the personal and work ends.
9) Delegate – This one took me many years to accept with the business. Everyone told me it would be life changing if I could learn to do this. I was so scared to expand our team and bring on employees to do the customer service and operations. I was holding on so tightly because I believed that no one would be able to do anything as well as me. I slowly let go of the reins on these things and it was life changing. First, I have seen that my team can do it better than me. And second, it has freed up my time to focus on what really matters for the business. I know this is a lesson that all owner CEOs slowly learn, as the business is their baby. It certainly has been mine, but you have to let others help you and do their job in order for your business to grow and prosper.
10) You Don’t Need to Be Perfect – this has always been my motto. My husband is always frustrated because I go 90% of the way on lots of stuff but rarely 100%. He is a 100% type of person. The thing is, I am OK with my 90%. I think this has helped me get through this journey and succeed. I realized I was never going to be able to make all the photo albums of my kids every moments or write a perfect email. I also realized I was not going to be able to travel and network for my business like I could without kids. I accepted both of these facts and did the best I could do.