It’s a pretty well known fact that our country is one of the worst when it comes to taking care of new families by providing paid family leave and even though California is better than other states, for people like me who work under contracts and own my own business it’s no different if I’m in LA or NYC, to put it simply if I don’t work I don’t make money.
The bright side to this however is that I have ways to make a living at home, so I consider it a plus that I don’t have a 6-12 week countdown to return to an employer who likely doesn’t care that my body is still spewing breastmilk or that my postpartum healing is unresolved or any of the other hundred reasons that leaving an infant at such a delicate age feels so depressingly unnatural at first.
Self-employment while a wild balancing act is something more women who desire the flexibility to be more present for their children are exploring. Enter the Momtreprenuer- a mother and entrepreneur who makes this balancing act her mission- at once driven with vision for her business and goals and ultimate creative and financial success, all the while fiercely committed to witnessing all of her kids’ milestones (if possible), to provide homework help afterschool, balanced meals, drive them to their after school enrichment classes and kiss them goodnight at bedtime. Ambitious? Yes, but so is every other parenting paradigm in our country, not because parenting is that challenging, but because we live in a culture that doesn’t readily support parents or families (think childcare that equal that of rent or mortgage costs). When having someone care for your child eats at anywhere from 10-50% of your earnings working outside of the home, moms will inevitably seek out a better way.
And it seems no matter what we choose to do, moms will be judged. If we work too much and pay for nannies we are seen as selfish and absent, if we stay at home we are not good feminists and are giving up our identities to motherhood, and if we are trying to balance motherhood with self employment we are “juggling” too much and have too much on our plates.
My thoughts on this are LEAVE US ALONE. We are all doing the best that we can, especially through the baby, toddler stage and likely we are doing what we have assessed to be the best thing for our children and families and possibly even our bank accounts. Me personally, I know I juggle a lot and I’m not perfect at it all by any means, but I can honestly say I wouldn’t want it any other way. Would I like to collect a paycheck and be a professional working woman? Maybe, but absolutely not right now, especially if I can be an effective earner while working from home. Right now my focus is on my children who will only be young and with me for a flash of a lightning bolt in the face of this journey we call life, and it is this perspective that is so important to have should you choose this road less travelled towards momtrepreneurship.
I recall with my first daughter at times feeling trapped, limited and overwhelmed by what little time I had to accomplish all that I hoped to do on a daily basis. I still experience these feelings with my new baby, now 8 months old, only now I have the perspective to talk myself down from such irrational thinking cliff edges, and check into some key momtrepreneur realities:
- There are good days and bad days with regard to productivity. Some days my baby lets me knock out my entire to do list and even get started on tomorrow’s. Others I do 2 things and then am forced to breastfeed, cook eight tiny meals and walk around the block to soothe a baby or get into a two-hour battle with a 9-year old about doing chores or talking with too much attitude. Overall it balances out and with proper adjustments to expectations (and help, see #3), mom’s head stays screwed on straight.
- Work when they nap, work at night, go to bed early some nights, others find yourself awake between 12-3am to knock out tasks. This may seem crazy making to some, but trust me there's a balance to be found and achieved in this with enough practice. That's my strategy anyway, likely you'll navigate your way to your own.
- If and when you can afford it, hire a little help. What this looks like for you obviously depends on your situation. I currently live far from my family so my goal is to eventually have a part-time helper/nanny for 10 hours a week, but I also am enlisting the help of a teen who will be an intern for my business, sometimes friends help me with business tasks and I pay them, and a regular cleaning lady is key for me. I have come to terms with the fact that I will need to dish money out to bring more in so while it can be costly to hire these occasional helpers, ultimately I am increasing my productivity thus earning potential and am saving by not paying $1,000 in childcare and best of all…..
- I AM BLESSED to be with my babes full-time day in and day out. Blessed because my baby can breastfeed on demand, we cuddle in the middle of the afternoon, and I see every single stage of her development miraculously unfold before my eyes. Because I am engaged and checked in with my 9-year old as her mind and body are beginning to transition from a little girl to a young woman. Because we have weekly farmer’s market traditions when the sun is still up, evening walks and random field trips to fun place around town
I am so energized by my role as a mother each and everyday that I honestly rarely feel tired. With the exception of when baby keeps me up all night with teething or being sick of course, otherwise, despite interrupted sleep by my milk addicted infant or argumentative evenings with my sassy pre-teen, I feel grateful everyday I can have a career and business I love AND be a full time and present mother to two amazing daughters. My plate is full and abundant, there could never be too much of this if you ask me and life is a juggling act no matter what, but choosing to only juggle what you love is the ultimate blessing in my book.