Written by: Zoe Share, Founder, Schmooz Media
As my first Mother’s Day approaches, with my (absolutely adorable) four-month-old baby girl healthy and growing away, I think now is a great time to discuss some of the lessons I’ve learned about balancing parenthood and entrepreneurship.
I never expected running my company, Schmooz Media, while learning to become a parent would be easy, but I think it’s really interesting how much parenthood and entrepreneurship have in common.
You have to be flexible, make boundaries, be willing to put yourself out there to advocate for yourself (and for your business or child) and you have to work very hard.
I have so much more respect for my own parents and for all parents now that I have become a mother myself.
It is not easy to do it all. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, a working parent, or an entrepreneurial parent; whether you’re a parent who feels like they have found their calling or one who is having trouble adjusting to this new part of their identity.
Here are some things that I remind myself of now that I am both a parent and an entrepreneur:
As an entrepreneur, no one else gets to dictate your ambitions. However, you do need to figure out what matters to you.
I have no doubt that people are better parents and better leaders when they take care of their mental health. That means you need to prioritize things that will make you and your family happy.
It’s okay to leave the office early every once in a while and it’s also okay to ask your partner to watch your child while you clock in a few extra hours. Finding that balance each day and communicating what you need will help you to use your time strategically.
Parenthood adds lots of new responsibilities, but it doesn’t add hours to the day.
For me, it sometimes feels like you have to get twice as much done in the same amount of time. It can seem daunting, but the good news is that you will find ways to manage.
I’ve learned to be much more efficient at my work, and I have also discovered that some of the things I used to do need to be delegated out. This allows me to be just as productive while freeing up time for new (and unexpected) challenges.
One of the most important parenting lessons I’ve learned is that you can’t do everything – even when you want to. I’m definitely guilty of wanting to do it all, with no help and no questions asked.
However, no matter how efficient you become, you’ll still need to rely on other people to help you. That’s why communication is so important.
Clearly delegating tasks and having open discussions around expectations with both your work team and your family will lighten your mental workload and make sure that everyone is pulling in the same direction.
Parenthood can be isolating, especially when you’re an entrepreneur. I sometimes feel like I’m missing out on after-work entrepreneur events and other times feel like I’m missing out on daytime ‘mommy and me’ groups.
Learning that other people have been there before helps and you can learn from their experiences. Websites like The Rebel Mama and books like I Know How She Does It and The Fifth Trimester can be invaluable resources that make the challenges of parenthood (and specifically, motherhood) a little less intimidating.
If nothing else, it’s comforting to know that other working or entrepreneurial mothers have dealt with the same problems that you’re facing now and – more importantly – that those problems can be solved!
When you spend time with your kids, I truly believe that you should just be there with them fully. While I can’t always be perfectly focused on my daughter, I think it’s important to make boundaries so you can be home when you’re home.
If you’ve set expectations and boundaries, there will be a lot fewer distractions when you’re spending time with your family. It’s hard for me to say it, but you don’t need to check your phone every time you get another email. You’re not only an entrepreneur now, you’re also working to take care of your children’s future. Allow yourself to enjoy the time you have with them now!
Of course, I’m sure there are more lessons waiting in the months and years to come, but that only makes the journey more exciting. I can’t wait to see how I’ll grow as a mother and an entrepreneur and hope you have the same enthusiasm for the road ahead. Happy Mother’s Day to all of my fellow mothers and entrepreneurs!