I’ve been a mum in business full-time for about ten years now and have specifically been helping other mums start a business for 4 years since I started Business Jump off the back of my business skills and expertise. We usually decide to start a business because we want to work from home and have more freedom and flexibility whilst our kids are little and as I tell all of my clients, whilst those things are certainly possible, it certainly is not a walk in the park if we don’t manage our time and expectations properly.
Kids are lovely… for the most part, but they are also little snotty germ hotels, demanding, need to be entertained the majority of the time, fed every bloody single day, and they are unpredictable and love throwing firebombs into our perfectly crafted routines, just once we think we have them worked out BAM. Plus they love to do weird things the minute you turn your back, like eat tissues. And, even if they do sit there quietly, the mum guilt starts to seep in and makes us feel like crap because we aren’t focusing on them.
So, trying to run a business in all that? It is tough and will literally send you insane in the membrane (shout out to my 90’s sisters) if you don’t get smart about it.
It takes strength of steel, patience of a nun and a lot of ice-cream bribery to work around kids and what I can say for sure is, if you just throw yourself in it without consciously working out how to manage your time, your business and your kids I fear you’ll be setting yourself up for a very stressful experience, and worst of all, what if you are actually destined to have a very successful online business but fall at one of these first hurdles because you weren’t informed enough about what it is really like? This is why I am adamant on sharing all the highs and lows in my Facebook group, Remarkable Business Mums. I want everyone to know that having your own business is 100% possible, but there are highs and lows and we need to learn how to ride out the lows or craft around them to reach our ultimate goals.
The good news is, whilst trying to work around the kids can be tough, managing how to get started in a small and simple fashion round the kids is completely doable. Like I share with my clients when we help them start an online business, we just need to get super smart with how we manage this whole thing, we need a few insights from someone who has been there and done that, some mindset tips to manage the flurry of feelings, thoughts and emotions that will pop up, a work harder not smarter philosophy, the right expectations and a few practical tips and then you’ll be off sailing like a pro and nailing the WAHM thing, so here are a few that I’ve picked up along the way being a mum of four and a business owner:
Make Hay When The Sun is Shining
So whether you’ve got a baby or a 4 year old we all know that kids love to change their routine quickly with no freaking warning, just when we think we’ve got them all figured out they switch it on us like a ninja. So if you’ve got a nice two hour block when the baby is sleeping, or you’ve got play dates setup for your 4 year old every Thursday afternoon use this time to your best advantage and knuckle down to get some work done, you’ve got to grab it while you’ve got it.
Be Flexible With Your Routine
My twins are 8 months old at the time of writing this and since they’ve been born I’ve had to change my routine several times to fit in with them. They’ve gone from sleepy newborns where I was able to get lots of work done to very demanding 8 month old babies that want all my attention and I’ve had to ebb and flow with them and not get too set in my ways. I’ve switched from waking up early in the morning to get an hour or two of work done before the house wakes up, to working weekends, to working in the afternoons and everything in-between. I used to work at nights with my older two but I draw the line there now and refuse to give up my sleep so off to daycare they go now for two days a week.
Let Go of Your Expectations
Look, some days are just going to go to shit. End of. Kids get teeth, get sick, plans change, we get no sleep, and spanners are always going to get thrown in the works. It is important to accept this as the harder we fight it the more overwhelmed and frustrated we’ll get. Be kind to yourself, clear your calendar, down tools and snuggle your kids. The beautiful thing is, there is always tomorrow to try again but expect for these days to happen, they are part and parcel of it all.
Be Kind To Yourself.
You know what I do? When I am exhausted from trying to do it all I give my kids Weetbix for dinner. I let them stay on the screen as much as they want, I do anything I can to get just a little bit of time that I need to finish what I was doing and I don’t beat myself up for it. At the end of the day I have this thing and where I let my kids snuggle with me as they go to sleep (my 10 year old and 7 year old) and in these moments I know that their greatest needs of feeling loved and feeling secure are met and all my mummy sins from the day have been wiped clean.
Get a Laptop
The best thing I have ever purchased for my business is my laptop as it means I can work from anywhere in the house, from sitting next to the pram if the twins are still asleep after we get home from a walk, to the cot if I am watching the twins have their bottle as they go down for a nap, to switching between the lounge room and kitchen table so I can watch the twins as they play or I can take it out and work from a cafe, library or co-working space.
Go Out To Work
I know this seems a little odd but look at it this way, two hours of uninterrupted quality working time means that we can usually get double the work done and then come home and spend quality time being present with our little ones. Also, I’ve noticed that over time, working from home gets a little stale, so I’ve started working from a co-working space which I am loving called Beaches Coworking on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.
Or Send The Kids Out
I am now putting the twins into daycare two days a week because I know in those two days I will get a weeks worth of work done and then we can coast for the other days. If you’ve got family utilise them, even if it is just an hour a week or do a swap with a mum friend and organise playdates.
Plan Your Time Smartly
I plan my work blocks around the twins sleeps, shorter sleeps I do shorter, quicker tasks, for longer sleeps I do longer stuff where I need to focus more, like writing a blog for example. For my older kids, if they are home on the school holidays I will take them all out in the morning and then we come home for quiet time and work time for me, this helps me with the mum guilt, knowing I’ve spent quality time with them in the day allows me to feel at peace working later.
Your Self Care is Just as Important
I put my self-care first, yes, sometimes even over the babies. Currently this means going out in the morning for an early run/walk/meditation, I prioritise this and get up early to fit it in. I can’t look after anyone, if I can’t function myself and I can’t run my business as efficiently and productively as possible if I am not at my best. This also means I do my best to eat clean, drink lots of water, take supplements and try my best to always be on top of my energy levels.
Manage Your Stress
If I am getting too stressed out, I stop and I don’t try and push through. It is the good old less is more rule. If I have a day off, I am more likely to work much better and faster the next day rather than trying to push through though. If I am mentally exhausted I block out my calendar and have a day of doing low key easy stuff over mentally challenging strategy stuff.
Do The Time
There is no doubt that when we are just starting out, it is the hardest stage, especially if you don’t have any other option but to work around the kids but don’t not do it just because it is hard, start small, even 10 minutes a day is better than nothing. Listen to business podcasts as you’re pushing the pram. Use that spare 20 minutes to write down ideas – you need to start wherever however and how ever you can and as the ball gets rolling, you’ll be able to ebb and flow and move yourself from dreaming of having an online business to actually running an online business.
Start Outsourcing and Automating
As I advise my clients, once you start generating an income in the early days the first thing you want to do is start reinvesting that into the business in areas that is going to save you time (automating certain tasks) and where it will make you time (outsourcing to other people to do things for you) this is how you multiply your efforts and lift your business off the ground.
Use Your Dead Time To Your Advantage
My twins love the pram at the moment, they think they are queens getting to be pushed around in a carriage so we are out walking a lot. Obviously I can’t work so in this time I listen to business podcasts and am always learning and absorbing information as it is really important for me to be on top of what is happening in my industry so I can guide my clients. I also use this time for ‘creative thought’ which means I am writing out posts and content in my head, thinking of new ideas, pondering a strategy and visualising what I need to schedule. It means when I am back on the computer it all flows out so much faster.
Take Small Consistent Steps
Last but certainly one of the most important, it is unlikely you are going to find a time where you can see how it will all work and you feel like you’ve got enough time to really focus in it, so don’t wait for that magical day. Start however you can, as small as you can and you’ll find time starts to expand as you take action. Most importantly, if it is your first business go into it with the expectation of it being a learning process over a money making exercise, this takes the pressure off and is why I set my clients up with the skills and expertise to replicate what they learn with us. No-one really nails their business first time around, it takes constant growing, learning and perfecting and if you stay committed and open to the process, you absolutely will crack it and end up with an incredible business that offers you everything you’re dreaming of.