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The Guilty Mom Entrepreneur

There's no perfect way to balance business and family life, but there is a way to feel proud about your accomplishments every day.
March 12, 2008
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/191276

Most mom entrepreneurs start their businesses to have a career that's flexible for family life. We own our businesses so that we don't have to work traditional hours and can create schedules that support motherhood. There's no perfect balance, however.

Most mom entrepreneurs I speak with are in a daily struggle. When they're working, they feel like they should be with their kids. When they're with their kids, they feel like they should be working. A colleague of mine recently attended a business lecture where the speaker said that excellence comes from total attention. She said that you can't make it to the top without total focus. That speaker was obviously not a mom. Mom entrepreneurs are split into so many directions. It's hard to have focus. We are a mom, wife, friend, sister, cook, housekeeper and the list goes on.

We feel like we rush through just about everything and that the clock is ticking from the time the alarm goes off. We feel guilty that we're not giving anyone or anything the attention that we would if only there was more time in the day. I feel like not a day goes by that I don't forget to bring my son's basketball shoes to practice or my daughter's snack to class. I worry what the other moms must think. Here I am creating this business so I can be a mom first and foremost, and yet I'm still not the traditional stay-at-home mom. The guilt can consume you. So, what is a mom entrepreneur to do?

The authors of Mommy Guilt: Learn to Worry Less, Focus on What Matters Most and Raise Happier Kids say that strategies for guilt-free mommy-living revolve around seven principles:

1. You must be willing to let some things go.
2. Parenting is not a competitive sport.
3. Look toward the future and at the big picture.
4. Learn when and how to live in the moment.
5. Get used to saying "yes" more often and being able to defend your "no."
6. Laugh a lot, especially with your children.
7. Set aside a specific time to have fun as a family.

Instead of thinking about all you didn't accomplish in a day, recognize all that you did. So maybe you didn't bake the cupcakes for your daughter's bake sale or maybe you forgot to kiss your husband on the way out. It's OK. You're contributing so much to your family. The reality is that most men (no offense guys) go to work, play with the kids when they get home and then they're done. We are now working full time, being full-time moms that still carry many traditional roles. Let it go.

Prioritize what's really important. For me, it's my family and my business. When you're working, do your best to give it your full attention. Don't answer your home phone and stop doing laundry. And when you're with your kids, give them your full attention. Don't check your Blackberry or take calls on your kids' time.
What is guilt? It's a feeling and an attitude. Turn that guilt into gratitude and be thankful for the opportunity to run a stimulating, challenging business and at raise a happy family. Remember that you're an amazing role model for your children. By showing them imperfection and challenge, they'll realize that life isn't perfect. It can be managed by taking care of themselves and their families. Congratulate yourself on being the ultimate juggler each day you manage to keep all the balls in the air.