My kids are all grown up now; a daughter 31, a son 28 and a daughter 27. They all work and support themselves. They have all moved away from home, and they all take the time to ring me when they need some mummy advice or to soothe their troubles.
I love being a mother. I love that it brings out the nurturing side of me, and I love the fact that my kids still think that I bring value to their lives.
It wasn’t always like that though.
When my kids were a lot younger, my husband and I owned a busy retail food business. The hours were long; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; then the travel time to and from the business on top of that. It was a hard slog just trying to find the time – the time for my husband, my kids, the housework, the gardening, the paperwork, the business, and myself. I fact if it hadn’t been for my younger brother coming to live with us, I really don’t know how the kids would have survived. There was very little time for me to spend with them during the day.
I coped like this for two years. There must be another way I thought, so I went out into the ‘real world’ and got myself an office job.
- I didn’t want to ‘waste’ my admin skills by working in the shop,
- I thought that this would give me more ‘time’ for all of those things that already challenged me, i.e. I believed that could work ‘normal’ business hours, I could fit in the kids’ school activities, the paperwork for the business etc.
Of course, I hadn’t thought about having to work in the shop as we had staff. However, when it was very busy, two or three people were just not enough, and I was often called in. On other occasions, my husband just needed a break, so most weekends were taken up with working in the shop. I still had to fit in the kids, the housework, the gardening, the paperwork, the business, and myself.
So, why the story of my life?
Being a Mum is no easy feat. There are so many demands on your time. So many challenges while juggling your work and your family commitments. You don’t have time for yourself because you are so busy looking after everyone else in your household and those around you. And do those you care for ever stop to think, REALLY think, of the role you play in their lives. Most likely not. Not on purpose anyway.
You work as a wife of the home 24 hours a day, you are a mother, a woman, a daughter. You are usually the alarm clock, the cook, the maid, the master, and the bartender. Of course, you are normally the babysitter, a nurse, a manual worker, a security officer, the adviser, and the comforter. You rarely have a vacation or ‘me’ time. You rarely have a day off, you work day and night, do not receive a salary for these ‘services’, and still, you are asked, “but what do you do all day?”
Being a Mum has both its own rewards and challenges and if you are starting out in business, it is not an easy journey. It can bring added personal pressures; juggling your business and your family commitments, self-doubt, lack of financial resources, comparisonitis, imposter syndrome, overwhelm, anxiety; the list is almost endless.
Then on the business side, what social media platform is best, how do I get noticed, will people buy from me, and there comes the cost of spending too much time in your business at the expense of your family and friends and your business.
So, you see I hear you! I certainly understand and empathise because I have been where you are now.
What can YOU do? Well, there are several things.
- The house chores can wait. No one has ever expired because the house is untidy
- Self-care should be your number one priority. Drop the ‘mummy guilt’ around doing something for yourself. If you are not feeling good the wheels of both family and business will come unstuck. Ask yourself, “what regular rituals of self-care do I do for myself each day and/or week?
- Are there some family tasks your partner/spouse can pick up to reduce your load? Once these have been reviewed, identify tasks both at home and at work which can be outsourced.
- There are ways to better your office efficiencies and assist you to improve your office procedures and processes:
- There are a huge number of mums looking for a few hours work each week who may be able to assist you. For those with limited resources, look to outsource particular tasks by achieving a business goal or milestone. It can act as a great incentive.
- Get a business coach or mentor. They can review your business model, marketing strategy, business planning methods and assist you to identify systems that allow you to do more in less time and money. A coach can also be a sounding board to workshop a business challenge or make you more accountable and find clarity.
- DON’T put all your eggs in one basket- take each day as it comes
- Don’t overdo things and become burnt out
- Don’t succumb to ‘Comparisonitis’:
- The compulsion to compare one’s accomplishments to another’s to determine relative importance, etc.
- Don’t fall into the ‘Imposter Syndrome’ trap:
- the internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. You feel inadequate, insecure and afraid that you’re temporarily fooling those who compliment you. Your negative mind chatter insists that any success you attain results from blind luck. The solution? Take these four steps to silence your inner critic.
Although being a mother and being in business can be challenging, there are strategies that you can put into place to assist you in your journey.
If you want to know more, why not grab a copy of my e-book at ‘Surviving as a Mum in Business’