I have never seen the show Family Guy but there is a clip that I first saw at a Mother’s Day baseball game in Washington DC. Over the jumbotron at National Stadium, the words, “Mom, mum, mamma…” rang over the loudspeakers and every mom felt the same feeling that rises when their name is called by their offspring over and over again. It is a combination of both endearment at that wonderful role and pure frustration that their children say it over and over again to get our attention.
At times as a solopreneur, I have felt that I not only hear Mom over and over again throughout the day but I also hear Jenny, Jenny from my many clients that need me. The calling of my name may come via email so it is less annoying but nonetheless present throughout my day. Both roles I love. Both roles I embrace. But both roles require 100% of me and that can be tiring.
I asked some other work-at-home moms with younger children, and they too love the flexibility that at home work brings. They do not have to pay for childcare, but rather can work early in the morning, late at night, or even during naptime. Or if they do have a meeting during the day, the childcare they do need is limited to that meeting time. Additionally, they do not need to ask for time off if a child is sick. And if their kids are school aged, they can work while they are at school and still be there to greet them at the bus. A lot of moms I heard from said that they like that their kids see them contributing to the family income. They can see her as a professional who has a life outside of motherhood. Those are all great things!
However, there are some frustrations. There can a blurred line between responsibilities. I battle with taking off my virtual assistant hat and being 100% mom. With my office right down the hallway and my phone always near, the call for work is always there and I need to make a clear choice not to answer that email or run in for a quick call. No matter what the ages of you children are, you still need to take care of their needs which does include doctor appointments, school events, homework etc. To ensure that all of these needs are met in addition to your business’, you must be thoughtful and plan ahead. As I work through the challenges of being a work at home mom, I have come up with the following 3 tips for Mom Boss Balance:
1. Set Hours in the Day for Work
This seems so easy to say, but far harder to maintain. I know that no two days a week look the same to me. However, I combine both my work and family calendar. I am always looking 1-2 weeks ahead at what is coming up for the kids and work. I ensure that I block off school and sporting events, so that I am clear during that time. I then plan my day around that block just the same as if it was a client appointment. I am also in the midst of blocking off weekends. I find that if I work on a weekend it is because I had something during the week that pushed that work into the weekend. But I am working towards the goal of guilt-free, family only on weekends.
2. Communicate with Clients
As I stated above, I block off the times that I have family events on my calendar. If those events are for longer than an hour, I let my clients know that I will be unavailable during that time. By letting them know in advance, they can plan ahead in letting me know what they might need around that time. I have proven to my clients that I will get their work done and find that being honest with them about family time is the most helpful thing to our work relationship. I have not run into this, but if a client did not respect my family time, I would probably reconsider whether they were the right client for me.
3. Do not Forget about YOU!
I am not going to tell you to make sure you schedule that weekly or monthly massage to ensure that you are pampered. We are moms! We are business women! Remembering ourselves need not be extensive or extravagant. For me, it is indulging in my reality tv shows sometimes during my lunch hour or grabbing a quick lunch with a friend during the week. Lately, one of my favorite things to do is keep an errand list throughout the week and on Saturdays go out with my daughter or by myself and shop until we drop. Those are the things I enjoy. They are simple. They do not cost a lot but they re-energize me and take me away from the responsibilities of work and of being a mom (sort of). So in the midst of all the balancing, find a small chunk of time and do what you enjoy.
I am not an expert, but rather a soldier in the reeds trying to figure out how to maintain a full time business with a full time family. At the end of the day, I want it all. I want to fall asleep knowing that I did not let either down. But the reality is that I am not perfect nor am I superwoman. I do the best that I can and know that there is always tomorrow to try it all over again.