It has been a testing week this week for me. Any busy working mum would agree that we are constantly juggling balls and occasionally some may slip from our grip.
I have had many conversations this week with other working mums and clients who, whilst they love their role as a mum, also need to be earning an income or fulfilling their desire to build a business. When working for yourself the responsibility can sometimes be overwhelming.
Here are three of the balls I have experienced juggling this week – Time, Expertise and being Flexible…
Time – tick tock tick tock
Without question this is the one thing that we all scream we do not have enough of. We stay up late, snatch moments during sleeps and generally feel like we are working all hours. Oh and being a mum, dashing to after school clubs or kindy pick ups. Have you thought about planning your day and to ‘chunk’ your time? Consider what you can do when you do have uninterrupted time – like in the 45mins -2hour sleeps – if you still have them. Use that time to work on projects or things that you need to ‘finish’. Any working mum knows that we feel like we never finish anything. The sense of achievement associated with finishing something will send endorphines rushing through your body!
I know one person that uses the kitchen timer as an alarm clock to finish a task and move on to the next thing!
Doing everything – and doing nothing
As all business owners know we have to do everything and be across everything. It is not realistic to be an expert in everything though. You will not only feel overwhelmed as your to do list grows but also feel like progress is not being made as the items you dread or fear move to the bottom of the pile. I recently outsourced some copywriting for my business. It was so good to have somebody interview me and then come up with some writing for my website – especially at a time when I had more important things to focus on and lacked creativity due to sleep deprivation. Design is not one of my strong points so I also outsource that when I can. OK – so some of you may be thinking that you do not have the funds to outsource work? Consider contra-deals. If you can offer that person something in return for their work they may consider it – you will be surprised at just how many people work this way to get ‘set up’. Be the expert at something – not everything.
Who do you know in your mothers group circle? Maybe there are marketing consultants, designers, lawyers…seek and you shall find.
Flexibility – bending your own rules
Some people may have a documented business plan others have a ‘in my head’ masterplan. The dilemma we face when we plan something is if opportunity comes-a-knocking and it does not seem to fit your plan you can become confused and momentarily distracted. With one friend this week we discussed how in her high flying high achiever corporate job she knew where she was heading and how to get there. In her role of mother and small business woman she was experiencing daily conflict as to where she was heading. She was being approached by various people and businesses that wanted to work with her and this only added to her confusion. When taking the time to step back – she realised that the plus side was she was being approached. The down side – for now – was her lack of care in place for her children and not being able to commit to ‘normal’ hours. So as a working mum we can break out of the normal mould and be flexible with how and what we work with. For her it was a realisation that if she just rolled with the punches – was open to considering every proposition – then something would fit. In March when she has childcare in place she can then fine tune that and work on her plan.
Let no one think that flexibility and a predisposition to compromise is a sign of weakness or a sell-out – Paul Kagame
Being a mum, running a household and a business takes commitment, focus and energy. Where you draw that energy from will amaze you. As mumpreneurs we have amazing reservoirs of energy and passion and can dig deep when required. So go easy on yourself and remember that if a ball slips – you can just pause the game for a moment and then start juggling when you have caught your breath.
Note – no babies were harmed in the production of this blog post – though 2 were changed, fed and set up with playtime. All before 7am!
Published 7th December 2012