When Julie Aigner Carter started her first business, her work schedule was dictated by her one-year-old daughter's sleep schedule. While her daughter slept, she could film the first Baby Einstein video, shooting her daughter's toys and capturing the family cat on video.
"I've always been fortunate enough to do what I really love, that I feel really committed to and that involved my life as a mom," explains Aigner Carter. "All of my products have to do with children, so I see my kids as my focus group. My businesses are great because they've revolved around my life as a mom." Aigner Carter's second business, The Safe Side, also revolved around producing videos that she wished existed for her own kids about children's safety issues, and she put together her new picture book, You Are the Best Medicine, to help children cope with a parent's serious illness, inspired by her own experience with breast cancer.
In the early days of Baby Einstein, trying to fit her work schedule around her infant's schedule was tough because nap time wasn't always predictable. When she was pregnant again, she began shooting the second Baby Einstein video, and when her second daughter was born, Aigner Carter was faced with the added challenges of working between breastfeeding and playing with a toddler. However, she never once considered day-care or child-care help.
"At first, I couldn't afford to bring in help for the company or at home," says Aigner Carter, who had quit her job to work on Baby Einstein, a business venture initially funded by her and her husband. As her business grew, she hired another mom in the neighborhood to help with the phones. Then Baby Mozart came out, and Aigner Carter finally hired someone to help around the house.
Says Aigner Carter, "I was doing all those things--laundry and cooking dinner, and I was working and I was being a mom. I looked at those three things and thought 'which one don't I want to do?' Definitely laundry."
Hiring someone to help around the house was harder than she thought.
"It was weird for me to hire somebody to do things that I thought were my job," she admits.
Aigner Carter attributes women's ability to multitask as a quality that gets them through their multifaceted lives; however, she also says that she, like other women, struggles with the guilt of feeling like she's never doing anything well enough.
"There's always this nagging in the back of my mind.should be doing this, should be with the kids," she admits. "It's very hard to get around that feeling and let yourself be okay with what you can do."
Aigner Carter doesn't think she did a great job of balancing at any time, but believes that most moms--and most entrepreneurs--would say the same thing. She does feel her life is more balanced now than before and not only because her girls are now in their teens. Having two breast cancer diagnoses, the last in 2008, changed her perspective.
"I want every moment to be welcomed, and I want to be grateful for it," says Aigner Carter. "I stopped feeling like I needed to make everybody else happy--just my family and myself."
Her advice to other mompreneurs? Give yourself permission to be imperfect and realize that you are trying to do your best.
If your company is home-based, take trips--even if just for the weekend--to really get away from the work and be with your family, something she began doing herself.
And try to remember what makes you happy.