When you’re going on no sleep or have a sick kid at home, the ambition and passion you have for your small business can be the only thing that gets you through the day. Waking up each day feeling excited and motivated about work is one of the best perks of having your own business—but it can be hard to channel when you’re sleep-deprived or distracted. How can you channel your ambition today—despite the distractions?
Balance is a myth for the mom in business, because there never seems to be a day when things are balanced. When you’re (finally) caught up in the office, school calls that your kid has a fever. Or when you (finally) take a day off to hang out with your kid, a client emails with an urgent request. Instead of balance, I say we strive to “juggle” all the things that come our way. How can you balance—or should I say, juggle—your day today?
I started out with my “C” word being codependent, but I thought connected summed it up more accurately. As moms, we are instinctively connected to our kids (and sometimes physically, when they wont let you put them down). Sometimes it’s hard to step away even though you know they need their independence. We are also connected to our clients—both for better (creating long-lasting relationships) and for worse (relying on one client to keep your business afloat). Finding the balance between being connected and “codependent” is the challenge. How do you stay connected without being “codependent?”
On the heels of my C is for connected post, I was inspired to talk about being disconnected. When you run a business, it’s hard to step away from work. That’s why I like to get disconnected on the weekends. Now before I get called out, I admit to posting Instagram pics and texting. But in general, I avoid work email/social media and other work-related distractions. I find the break from “trying to keep up with everything” refreshing. How and when do you get disconnected?
Energy can be a tricky thing for the mom in business—especially for moms of babies. It can be tough to keep your energy levels up when you are sleep-deprived or dealing with other parenting stresses. I find one of the keys to keeping energy levels somewhat stable is to keep a close eye on your schedule. Overbooking yourself is a sure way to kill your energy. Sometimes, you just have to say “no” to events or projects that are not beneficial to your business. What can you cut out of your schedule this week?
Or should I say, “Friday Afternoon Marketing.” Years ago, I started a tradition of setting aside specific time on Fridays for marketing my business. After having a child and realizing my time had become more limited, “Friday Afternoon Marketing” evolved into “10-Minute Marketing” (follow along with that blog series here). But the concept is still the same: setting aside dedicated time to focus on marketing. When do you set aside time to focus on marketing?
I’m a big fan of gratitude. Whether it’s sending a handwritten thank you note to a client or friend or just putting grateful thoughts out into the Universe, I believe gratitude can change your life. When you’re a parent and a small business owner, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday. But I like to take a moment every night to express my gratitude (either to the Universe or in my Gratitude Journal app). How do you share your gratitude?
Or should I say, changing habits. Once you have a child, you quickly realize that everything in your life has changed. You can no longer follow the schedule you used to have—which means changing your habits in both work and home life. I will say this was an interesting adjustment for me as I was accustomed to putting a lot of hours into my business, along with a very free-flowing schedule. Now, I often work around daycare drop-offs/pickups and other obligations that don’t allow me to work late. But you know what, that’s a good thing… How have you changed your work habits since kids came along?
One of the cool things about becoming a parent is finding new sources of inspiration through your kids. My son inspired me early on (during our sleepless nights, to be exact) to start my line of baby and kids apparel, typebaby. He continues to inspire my design work, not to mention helping me to slow down and look at life in a different way. What have your kids inspired you to do or create?
It’s finally springtime in Chicago and I just came back from the playground with my 3-year old son, who had me running, climbing and jumping. After being cooped up for a long winter, it was exhilarating to get some exercise in the fresh air. After running a business for almost 15 years, sometimes I find myself getting too comfortable and needing a new challenge. That’s when I take a hint from my 3-year old and “jump” to get the blood flowing and kickstart my inspiration. Do you take the opportunity to “jump?”
Several years ago, we signed up for a CSA (community-supported agriculture) from Harvest Moon Farms. Every week, I looked forward to opening the box of veggies that would inevitably include something I never cooked with, like garlic scapes and—you guessed it—kohlrabi. It forced me outside of my cooking comfort zone (and I realized how much I love kohlrabi!) Being a mom in business also forces you outside of your comfort zone. In both home and work life, you’re constantly being challenged to be creative in situations or find new uses for things. What is the “kohlrabi” that gets you out of your comfort zone?
My toddler spends a good part of his day laughing. Us adults on the other hand (and especially working parents), we seem to get bogged down in the seriousness of everyday life. Listening to my son laugh—and laughing along with him—always boosts my mood, especially after a stressful workday. Laughter truly is the best medicine. Did you take the time to laugh today?
Toddlers are constantly learning new things so naturally, mistakes happen. But they easily shake it off, move on, and (we hope) learn a lesson. In small business, mistakes happen too. But instead of feeling disappointed, what if we were to shake them off move on, and most importantly, learn from them? Then we would see it’s OK to make mistakes. Did you learn from a mistake today?
If there’s one thing toddlers are good at, it’s saying “no.” Business owners, not so much. I know I’m guilty of taking on too many responsibilities or overbooking myself. And as a mom in business, there’s nothing worse than feeling like you don’t have enough time for your child. If my 3-year old was presented with something he didn’t really want to do, he would simply say “no!” I’m going to start following his lead. Is there something you should say “no” to today?
I’m a natural optimist. But I’ll admit, some days it’s tough to keep a positive attitude. Several months ago, I participated in a group that read and discussed the classic Napoleon Hill book, Think and Grow Rich. The moderator spoke about how your mind is like a muscle—sometimes you have to work that muscle to keep your thoughts positive and focused on your goals. On those days when I feel less than optimistic, I make an effort to flex that “muscle” and make the shift to thinking positively again. Are you a natural optimist or do you have to flex your “muscles?”
Most of us don’t play enough in our day. When you have a toddler, you have no choice (and my toddler will call me out on it if I’m not really playing). Kids help us see things from a more whimsical perspective: why shouldn’t a stack of Lego blocks be a robot? They help you slow down and appreciate simple, yet amazing moments. Couldn’t we all use a bit of play in our business day?
Why does it seem like time speeds up once become a mother? Not only do you notice it as your tiny baby grows into an active, chatty toddler. But all of the sudden, there aren’t enough hours in the day to get all your work done. (And don’t even get me reminiscing about pre-kids lazy, loungy weekends…)
Sometimes, I feel like my day is in hyper-drive, yet I still can’t manage to check everything off my to-do list. One thing I try to do each day is prioritize tasks, focusing on imminent deadlines first (I use sticky notes for this purpose).
I also spend some time each evening getting “in the moment” by reading from one of my meditation/reflection books (this one by Melody Beattie and this one by Ardath Rodale are current faves). If I can squeeze in a short yoga/breathing session, even better. How do you slow down when you’re moving too quickly?
I find myself repeating words or phrases to my toddler constantly. They say that this is one of the best ways for children learn and I agree. I’ve also learned that you can apply this to small business by observing what other successful businesses are doing and “repeating,” or applying those concepts, to your own business. What concepts or ideas do you “repeat?”
I first heard the term “stretch” in Barbara Stanney‘s book Overcoming Underearning. It’s when you “go beyond what feels comfortable to what may seem impossible.” I love this concept because in both parenting and small business, we often have to venture outside of our comfort zone. Scary as it may be, it never fails to result in a feeling of accomplishment or satisfaction. How did you “stretch” in your day today?
When my son was 1-1/2 years old, we made a change in our childcare situation and enrolled him in daycare. It was a tough transition—mostly for Mama, that is—but we made it through and he’s adapted really well (i.e. sometimes he doesn’t want to go home!)
My toddler’s transitions are based on developing new skills or learning opportunities. In small business, we are also faced with transition. And it’s not always easy. And we may kick and scream. But if we adapt like a toddler and see the potential for learning something new, it can be easier.
Are there new opportunities in your work life that require a transition?
With an active 3-year old, I’ve been reading a lot of books on toddler behavior lately.* The underlying theme seems to be one of understanding where your toddler is coming from: how they are feeling, what is leading them to exhibit certain behaviors (i.e. having a tantrum before going to school) and ultimately, how you can relate to them on their level—not yours.
It got me thinking about how often we don’t take time to understand where someone is coming from in business situations. Where we may take things the wrong way or misunderstand a situation. It’s easy to feel rejection or resentment when you don’t knowing the underlying causes of the other person’s behavior. Is there a situation or person that you can be more understanding of?
*Moms: I’m happy to share my recommendations and hear yours too!
When you become a mom, all sense of vanity seems to go out the window. First off, you quickly realize you have absolutely no idea how to take care of a tiny little person (“but I know how to run a business, I’m sure I can figure this out!”) As they grow into little toddlers, you find yourself going to work with mud stains on your pants and just shrugging it off.
As a mom in business, you also have to lose some sense of vanity. Not everyone will “love you” or be your ideal client. And sometimes you feel like you’re doing a pretty bad job juggling work/home priorities. But you just have to shrug it off. And realize that, in the end, you’re doing a pretty darn good job.
Moms tend to worry a lot. As a new mom, you worry about your baby’s sleeping, eating or crying. Then they grow into active toddlers, and you worry they will fall and hurt themselves (or have a tantrum in public!) I find the key to worrying is to make it productive: use the worrying to find a solution and then let the worry go.
Worries can creep into small business too. I worry when I don’t have enough work, or when I have TOO much work (I know, it’s crazy). But I try to diffuse the worries by being productive, grateful, or reaching out to my network for help. Do you channel your worries into something more productive?
Whenever I ask my toddler “what starts with the letter X?” he always says “x-ray.” And wouldn’t it be nice if us moms had an “x-ray” that told us what toddlers were thinking when they say or do something, ahem, questionable?
It would also be nice in small business to have “x-ray vision” into what people are thinking (Why didn’t that prospect call me back? Why didn’t I get chosen for that project?). As hard as it is though, sometimes you have to make peace with the mystery of not knowing—both in business and motherhood. What do you wish you could “x-ray?”
Toddlers yell, especially when they don’t get their way (case in point: my 3-year old having a meltdown this morning because he insisted on eating crackers before getting dressed). I like to think the concept of yelling is not bad: toddlers are not yet emotionally-mature enough to manage their feelings like adults do. So their frustration comes out as a YELL.
Sometimes, small business owners would like to yell too. But we (hopefully!) find a way to channel those emotions into something less, err, loud. Like taking a few deep breaths or hitting the gym.
How do you channel your “yelling” emotions?
The last word for my A to Z Challenge was actually my husband‘s idea. I thought it was perfectly appropriate for moms in business because “zzzzzzz’s” are a common topic of conversation. Whether it’s our own lack of sleep (an early-rising child, late-night work) or our child’s sleeping habits (or lack thereof), we always seem to be talking about sleep.
What most working moms can usually agree upon is that we don’t put a high enough priority on sleep. I know I’m guilty of staying up late reading a book—and getting much-needed “me time”—when I should be sleeping. But sleep is what recharges your body and makes it easier to tackle the next day.
So, I’m officially declaring to shut off my iPad library app earlier each night (or better yet, start reading when the battery is low so my end time is imposed!) How do you make sure you get enough zzzzzzz’s each night?