7 Ways I Overcame Mommy Guilt to Start My First Business
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Being a working mom and starting your own business are arguably two of the most stressful and rewarding accomplishments of a woman's life. Combine the two by starting your own business working from home and you've got a whole new set of emotions on hand, one of which is likely to be "mommy guilt."
It's that overwhelming feeling when you are working extremely hard to start your business and you feel like you're neglecting your responsibilities as a mom. I know the feeling all too well -- I have four children under the age of 10 and I started, and still successfully run, my business from home.
Was it easy? Not at first. My mom guilt was at times overwhelming, but the good news is that I found ways to overcome that guilt by creating balance with time management, planning and even involving my children in the business.
"Lean in" to distraction.
Inevitably, when you're in "go" mode (aka highly productive time) someone you love will try to get your attention and the quick answer is usually "Honey, not now, I'm busy" to try to get the distracting person to go away as quickly as possible. When these distractions are caused by your children, it can cause increased mommy guilt and resentment.
For me, I find the more I resist the distraction, the longer it lasts. So, I decided to "lean in" to the distraction. If someone wants to snuggle with me, I give them a great big hug. If someone has a question, I give them my full attention and address the question and then we both happily return to what we were doing.
If I'm in the middle of something I really can't stop doing, I'm up front with my children about it. We make a plan together for a later time when we can engage in what they needed in that moment.
Make a game out of quiet time.
One of the biggest challenges I've experienced has been trying to figure out how to keep the kids quiet when I'm on the phone. They are, after all, young kids who like to have fun. I made a sign for my office door, but I knew the two younger kids weren't going to read it and understand, so I made a game out of learning what the sign meant.
The "Mom's on the phone game" consisted of us walking up to the door together, seeing the sign, covering our mouths and tiptoeing away, all while seeing who could be the quietest. Gamification for the win.
Make a to-do list for work and home.
Prioritizing your to-dos with a clean, effective list can help you manage what needs your attention the most throughout the day. Often, people make to-do lists that focus on either business or home life, but when you work from home it can be hard to differentiate between the two.
Instead, I suggest combining your lists. Consider adding things like grocery shopping, going to the bank or walking to check the mail. These home items are simple things that can be done with the kids and provide quality time together.
Create million-dollar moments.
Quality tends to be more important that quantity, and that's true when it comes to relationships with family, especially children. Even if we spend every waking moment with our kids, if we're stressed out and resentful all the time, are we really doing them a service?
Looking back, have you ever had a moment with the kids where you might say "I wouldn't trade that for a million bucks"? If you reflect on some of your favorite moments, you'll start to notice a common thread in them. Maybe it was a moment where everyone was getting along, or when you were enjoying something beautiful outside.
When you know what these moments are, you can start replicating these experiences more often. Even if all you have is five minutes, you can still inject that spirit of warmth, acceptance and playfulness into time with the kids. When you plan your schedule for work time, be sure to include a conscious effort to plan moments with the family as well.
Involve the kids in your business.
It may sound strange but involving my children in the business is one of the biggest ways I overcame my mommy guilt. My oldest has an entrepreneurial spirit and a wealth of creative ideas, so I started involving him in business decisions or brainstorming sessions whenever the opportunity came up. By involving him, he feels like he is part of what I am creating.
Become a success magnet by staying sane at all times. If you break down, the business will break down. If you're raising a family and building a business at the same time, the stakes are high. Your sanity, peace of mind and general well-being are the greatest predictors of your success.
One of the best things you can do to maintain your sanity as a parent is to stay focused on your own business and quit trying to change your kids. Love them while they learn from their mistakes.
Turn parenting into a business asset.
Parenting can be a fantastic business school because as a parent you're always selling. You have to figure out what makes something attractive to someone else, and it pays to notice what works and what doesn't.
I believe the most effective thing you can do as a parent is the exact same thing you can do as a business owner: Be in tune with what your kids (or customers) want most at any given time and figure out how to effectively communicate that what you're offering is going to get them what they want.
Overcoming mommy guilt is something that can take some time and practice until you find a rhythm that works for your life. During all of this, don't forget to take some time for you -- step away from the computer, turn off your cell phone alerts/notifications and enjoy the day.