“OMG! So cool. You are a total celebrity!! Just realized from Instagram.”
[An actual text that I received from another mom after a playdate.]
It’s a fun conversation when my work-life and my mom-life collide.
I have always loved what I do, but I experienced a whole new level of appreciation for the flexibility of my career after having my daughter.
Now that I’m more than a year into being a mom and a business owner, I’ve started to get a lot of questions from my audience about how I make it all work.
In fact, I had the honor and pleasure of talking about this very issue with my friend Nikki Elledge Brown on a recent episode of her new Naptime Empires podcast. And as I told Nikki, I’m actually not a very typical example of a mom business owner, because I already had three thriving, successful businesses before Olivia was born.
Devin and I knew from the start that we wanted to build the kinds of businesses that would support the life we wanted to live — including eventually having children. We worked hard from those first days of Greek Threads, cutting fabric by hand and doing everything ourselves, to build businesses that would give us the freedom to live the way we want to live, and be the kinds of parents we want to be.
Yet I know that for many people — maybe even most people — family and children may have come first, before your business was even a twinkle in your eye. I often see women who decide to strike out on their own and start their own businesses because they’ve had children, not the other way around.
Whether your kids came first or your business did actually doesn’t matter as much as you might think when it comes to making it work. What matters most is having a clear vision of how you want to design your life, and then working to make that vision a reality.
To help you get clear on your vision, I’ve created a Visioning Worksheet for you. Just click here and download it to get started — then read on for some additional specifics!
Begin with the end in mind
If I were to go to a dressmaker’s shop and order a custom gown, I wouldn’t just walk in and say, “Make me a dress, please! I’ll be back in two weeks to pick it up.” The designer wouldn’t even know where to begin!
No, in order to make me the dress I wanted, the designer would need to know a lot of specific information about the end product: where I intended to wear it, what length, what color, what kind of fabric, what my measurements are, etc. Only once she had a clear vision of what we wanted to create would she be able to start designing and crafting it.
The same goes for your ideal lifestyle and how you make it all work with your kids and your business: you must begin with the end in mind.
Because, just like with fashion, there are any number of end results you might want! I know one member of my team works only about 20 hours a week while her daughter attends half-day kindergarten; when her daughter is home, she isn’t working. Nikki works mostly while her little one naps (hence the name of her podcast: Naptime Empires!). I have full-time child care, but tend to work in short, focused sprints on weekdays. Another woman I know has retired her husband and he is in charge of childcare while she works full time.
They’re all different scenarios with one thing in common: The women are doing what works best for them and their families and businesses.
So when envisioning your ideal balance, the first step is to get really clear on what you want the end result to look like. Do you want to only work during naptimes? Do you want to earn enough to afford full-time care and work full time? Would you like to earn enough to let your partner be the full-time caregiver while you work?
There’s no one right answer. And remember: even if it seems a long way off, there’s no vision too big or too grand. It’s your vision, and you’re allowed to dream up whatever ideal scenario sounds best to you!
Assessing and recalculating
Devin and I have always had our eyes on the future. And because of that, we evaluate opportunities as they come based upon whether or not they will help us achieve the vision that we have for our businesses and our family – and it has never steered us wrong.
No matter what stage of business (or family!) you are in, it’s always a good idea to make sure that the work you are doing is in line with the bigger vision that you have for your life and business.
With a clear vision of where you want to go, you can assess each opportunity or decision that comes your way by simply asking yourself, “Does this move me closer to my vision?” If the answer is yes, it’s a good business decision. If the answer is no, you may need to pass it up, no matter how good an opportunity it seems to be.
Your vision can also help you recalculate and realign when things start to drift. Just like when you make a wrong turn and your GPS says, “recalculating route,” when things start to feel off in your business or your personal life, you can use your vision as “true north” and reorient things so that you’re headed in the right direction again.
But it all starts with having your vision clearly defined.
To get started defining your own true north for your family and business, click here to download my Visioning Worksheet. (P.S. This worksheet works whether you currently have a family or are still dreaming of having one down the road!)