In January of this year I received the wonderful gift of knowing that I was pregnant with our third baby. This will likely be our last baby and complete our family and I'm truly trying to relish the last pass through the cycle of growing a new life.
I have valued the balancing act of raising a family while running a business and all that I've been able to learn from both. Both careers (and that's what they are) have influenced each other and made each other better.
These are the things I've learned from balancing being a business owner and a mother:
1. The Value of Time: Time is the most precious resource we have as mothers and entrepreneurs. The ability to manage, prioritize and protect my time has been one of the biggest things I've learned to do.
• I manage my work time during the day and do my absolute best to maximize those working hours.
• I prioritize time for my family, for my husband and my children. But I also prioritize some time for myself. Whether that's early in the morning or after the kids go to bed. There will be time for a recharge somewhere... other than sleep.
• I protect my time from other things that might steal it. This one is the HARDEST for me. I struggle with the need to always have the notifications on or be reachable and to KNOW what is happening in my business at all times. But sometimes... I put my phone down and walk away. I haven't worn my apple watch at all this year... and that's somewhat intentional. I wan't to protect my time to be with my family in the evenings or on the weekends and I also want to protect my time while I'm working so I can do my absolute most in those precious few hours.
2. The Value of A Strong Family At Home: We thrive on a schedule at our house and it's pretty easy to understand why. Not only would it be nearly impossible to get all the things done in the days, weeks and months BUT it also gives my family a strong foundation to return to at the end of the day.
• Recently, my four year old has been very interested and absorbed in "what happens next". "What do we do on Wednesdays?" or "What will we do in the morning?". I'm very blessed to offer her answers that are consistent and re-assuring. We know what to expect on most days. That's not to say that we don't get ear infections or Mom or Dad doesn't have to leave early or come home late and miss an event. But we have a strong routine to return to whenever the storm settles.
• My husband and I prioritize each other and each other's schedules. It's one thing to say that we prioritize our relationship. It's another thing to make time to look at the other's schedule and talk about the events of the week and month coming up. Over the last year, my husband and I have started to block off time during our work day once a week for a quick 15 minute call. We look at our calendars and update one another while our minds are focused and not exhausted and give out. This has made all the difference for us when it comes to managing expectations for our family's schedules.
• This one goes back to the time element but we largely protect our weekends because that's when our family resets as a unit. We're outside the home most of the work week and it's so essential for us to have time AT HOME just being us. And yes, that involves doing chores and laundry and all the necessary things that keep a home running. But, it also allows us to just be ourselves with our young kids. This to me is invaluable because it sets us up for success going into the week ahead.
3. The Value of Communication: I will be the first to admit that I'm not the best communicator, but, it's something I strive to get better at EVERY DAY.
• I've implemented tools like Slack and Asana with my team to keep communication and expectations set. I've implemented weekly standing meetings with teams offsite so there is a frequent open opportunity to communicate any issues. We also have a shared and transparent Google Calendar at work so everyone knows whats happening. Communicating at work with transparent tools is essential for me.
• I mentioned this earlier, but scheduling time to communicate about family needs during the work day has been truly invaluable for me. I believe our brains can only receive so much information and act on it constructively during so many hours in the day. I don't know about you, but after the kids are in bed — my mind is done and my ability to react and think creatively is done. Working on family during the work DAY is crucial.
• I believe in setting expectations which comes through communication. Just like a strong schedule keeps the family in sync, setting expectations through routine tasks, creating a calendar, and holding people accountable makes the business run so much smoother. This is a lot easier said than done for sure. However, as my business grows and my family grows, I'm getting better at this.
We have a quote on our chalkboard wall at home that says "it's not things that upset us but our opinions about them." It's our expectations, what we've been told, and what we think should happen that causes chaos in our lives. That's true in business and at home.
I'm still learning and I'm in the era of small children with a still relatively young business. This story and learnings will likely change when my kids enter their teenage years and I (hopefully) have a more mature business as well. But I think the key is to do just that — LEARN.
I hope I look back on this blog post and say "she knew nothing". Because that will mean I have continued to learn and grow from these two wonderful blessings: a loving family and a growing business that shapes me daily.
To all the women out there — you can do both!