This week, I’m sharing my thoughts on being a new mompreneur… this is for all the women entrepreneurs out there who are new moms (or will be new moms some day). There are some things I would go back and do differently in those early days where I was learning how to manage my business and my role as a mother. (Revisit yesterday’s post for the first 3.)
What I Wish I Could Do Over (continued)…
4 – Accepted more help from people willing to offer
People often said, “Let me know if I can help!” I never really had anything to ask them for. And, there’s a part of me that didn’t want to impose. (So silly!) But, in hindsight, I should have had a list of things ready. Those things include:
- I hate cooking. We’d love a meal.
- I need sleep. Can you hold Lili for an hour while I nap?
- I forgot something at the office. Do you mind running over there and grabbing it for me?
- I need clean onesies. Can you do a load of laundry for me?
- I need a drink. Bring over a bottle of wine, STAT!!
But, I rarely took people up on their help. We do this as business owners. We rarely ask for help because we are used to doing everything ourselves. You’ll never have another time in your life where people honestly want to help you. Take them up on it!
5 – Slept when baby slept instead of work when baby slept (at least in the beginning)
Like I mentioned yesterday, I would have given myself an actual maternity leave instead of jumping right back into work in my business. Along with this, I would have slept when baby slept. This is especially important in the first couple months when baby is waking at all hours of the night. Those daytime naps are critical. But, because I was back at my computer so soon after giving birth, I would work when Lili napped. And, with being woken up so often at night, I wasn’t getting any sleep at all. And, if you aren’t taking care of the machine (that’s you) it will break down.
Working when baby naps will be an important part of your work/mompreneur strategy as the baby gets older – LATER. (I’d say at around 3 months, the sleep routine becomes a little more predictable for some babies.) But, give yourself the time to rest when baby rests in those early months.
6 – Had a better childcare plan than “We’ll see what happens!”
I think as small business-owners we think that we can take care of a child and simultaneously run a business. (It’s the reason that many of us start businesses. We want control of our day and work.) But, at some point we have to choose – will I work 40 hours/week or spend that time with my kids? It’s near impossible to work and take care of a small child’s needs. Something’s gotta give. And, you find yourself in a situation where you need childcare help. SURPRISE! SURPRISE!
Oh – my husband and I had all sorts of ridiculous plans for Lili’s childcare… most of which actually (surprisingly) worked to the detriment of our sanity. At the time he was working with a lot of European companies and we were living in Seattle. His work day often began at 5am to make up for the time zone difference. My work day typically got busy in the afternoon (when my staff would come in) and evening (when I’d have client meetings). So our shifts were as such:
5am-12pm I’m in charge of Lili / Andy works
12pm-2pm Lili naps / we both work
2pm-8pm Andy is in charge of Lili / I work
We were 2 ships passing in the night. And, we were tired… EXHAUSTICATION-NATION!
That was the general schedule with all sorts of adjustments made for scheduled phonecalls and meetings swapped. I’m blessed to have a very supportive husband. (Believe me, I give thanks every day for his equal partnership in child rearing.) Somehow, miraculously, neither of us ever missed a meeting or had a phone appointment with a screaming baby in the background.
And, we could technically work with her in the room… sorta technically… OK – not really…
You see… When your child is an infant, they have needs… feeding, pooping, sleeping… basic needs… but they happen very often. While they are newborn there is no ability to put them down for more than a few minutes because they will soon (within 30 minutes) let you know they need something from you. So, your work is being constantly interrupted. It’s hard to get focused when this little person is asking something important of you every few minutes.
“Bring your daughter to work” day didn’t work so well for our family. I found that I wasn’t really working, nor was I really attending to her needs. I was failing at BOTH.
It’s not easier when they grow… Older kids need attention too. And, even the most independent child (like mine) gets bored and will come to you and start pounding on your keyboard. It’s funny to think that prior to having kids, I thought I could just teach my kid otherwise. (“My kid will be different!”) HA! The kid will always have the last laugh on this.
I hope you don’t think that I’m complaining about my situation. I know how fortunate I am to have had this opportunity to work AND be with my child. BUT… I would have had a better childcare plan.
After your maternity leave, I would recommend having 1 day a week where you have someone (a family member or sitter) help you with the baby. Let this be your day of complete focus on work only. You’ll find that you are incredibly efficient when you have this time to focus. (AGAIN – this should only begin after a PROPER maternity leave! 😉 And, then explore other childcare options.
How about you?
I’d love to hear your experience? Were you better about this? How did you manage all this? What do you wish you had done better in your early days as mom-preneur?