There’s a myth about mompreneurs (mom entrepreneurs). We hear it in various forms, but it’s usually the well-meaning comment of a friend or a client:
“I’m amazed by how you do all you do.”
“I don’t know how you do it all.”
Sometimes we try to explain the truth. Other times we just laugh it off.
It is laughable, really. No one can do it all. Especially not a mom who works from home.
So today, I’m here to set the record straight. I want to tell you the truth about what it’s like to be a mompreneur. And why I wouldn’t trade my work-at-home job for any other career.
1. Work-at-Home Moms Don’t Do It All
No matter how many lists and schedules a girl makes, there are only 24 hours in the day. For a mom who works at home, her husband and her children are her first priority, her work second. Family members are the “big rocks” in that metaphorical jar, clients are the smaller pieces of gravel, and the rest of the things on her to-do list are those grains of sand that fill in the cracks.
To a mom who works at home, time is money, and there is not time to do it all. So, she prioritizes. Meals are a priority. So is laundry (for obvious reasons). But dusting comes fairly low on the list of things that “need” to be done. Which means it doesn’t happen very often. And that’s okay.
We don’t make all our own bread and whip up our own condiments (unless we’re a real food blogger). We don’t write our own homeschool curriculum (unless that happens to be part of our job). And we certainly don’t create every amazing project we see on Pinterest (unless we’re a DIY blogger). But we’re okay with that.
2. Mompreneurs Multi-Task
A woman’s brain is wired to multi-task. That’s why it’s just as natural for a mompreneur to go back and forth between cooking for children and communicating with clients as it is for another mom to switch between dishes and laundry or a phone call.
Every writing mom knows that the best inspiration comes in the middle of a sinkful of dishes, and either the words or the dishwater must go cold. And every mommy blogger has written at least one post while holding a sleeping child, ignoring the cramping muscles and aching back from the awkward position.
So, we multitask. We fold laundry while we listen to podcasts training us further in our line of work. We brainstorm on Voxer with our mastermind group members while we’re washing the dishes. We answer client emails while our homeschool students write their spelling words. And we know that naptime equals power hour.
3. Moms Must Embrace the Seasons
Motherhood is made up of seasons. Part of thriving as a mompreneur is embracing each season as it comes, flexing our business and our schedule to accommodate the changing needs of our families. Mompreneurs have a lot of freedom and flexibility. That flexibility comes with great responsibility, and that freedom provides great reward.
Sometimes that means getting up before our family and accomplishing our most important tasks while the house is quiet. Other times it means learning to focus amid the chaos of toddlers and toys. Moms don’t get sick days. And we mompreneurs don’t usually give ourselves much vacation time, even though we could. We have to manage our time and our energy, prioritizing our very best for both our families and our careers.
Since we can work from bed in our pajamas, we do. Since we can usually move our office space from our desk to the couch to Starbucks and back again by simply bringing along our laptop, we do. Since we can’t leave work at the office, we don’t.
As nice as an office and a quiet cubicle might sound on some days, we know we wouldn’t trade the flexibility of working from home, nor the reward of watching and training our children even as we work.
4. Mompreneurs Guarantee a Personal Approach
Mompreneurs can’t help but be personal. We’re working from home, with our children in the background. They keep us grounded. Our very environment ensures that we give clients a personal experience.
I’m up front with my clients about the fact that I’m a mom of three small children with a fourth on the way. In turn, they ask about my pregnancy and inquire about the ages of my children. They don’t expect me to maintain normal office hours. But they know I’ll get back to them as promptly as I am able. And they’ve yet to complain when a small voice interrupts a phone consult or a tousled head appears on the screen during a Skype session.
Customer service gets that extra personal touch. Projects become passions. Clients become friends. In a day and age where everyone from big brands to small businesses are realizing the importance of being personal, mompreneurs can guarantee that personal approach.
And customers will always choose a personal experience as long as it’s still professional.
5. Working Moms Have Good Help
Work at home moms don’t do it all. But what they do accomplish, they couldn’t do without the help of their amazing support team.
Sometimes it’s a mother’s helper who comes in three days a week. Sometimes it looks like a husband doing the dishes after he’s already put in a hard day at work. Sometimes it’s a grandma who is willing to babysit her grandkids more than usual. Sometimes it means that Mom spends Saturday at Starbucks while Dad is home with the kids. Sometimes it means hiring a nanny three afternoons a week so that Mom can have undisturbed office hours. Sometimes it means hiring one’s own teenage children to pitch in more with the housework or the bookwork. Sometimes it means hiring a housekeeper so that Mom doesn’t have to put work aside to clean the house.
Mompreneurs may be virtually solo entrepreneurs, but we don’t do it alone.
6. Moms Get to Exemplify Entrepreneur-ism for Their Children
Moms who work from home have the opportunity to model entrepreneur-ism to their children. Not only can they take pride in a job well done, but they can train their future assistants as on the job apprentices. Moms who love their work and their family can show their children the power of hard work and the value of priorities. Mompreneurs can give their children a real live role model of a woman who is living out her calling while fulfilling her passion.
I’ve learned to be honest with our children about why I work. They know Daddy goes to work so that we can have a warm house, food to eat, and the freedom to enjoy special things as a family from time to time; they know that I work so we have a little extra to save for a bigger house someday. I’ve learned the value of explaining to my children what I am doing at the computer. They hear me talk with my husband about my clients and their stories; then I can explain to them that today I’m working on a website for so and so who lives in such and such a place.
And the reward? Listening to their little voices discuss their imaginary “work”. Reading the first “books” they write. Watching our children learn the value of money. Seeing budding entrepreneurs learn the reward of responsibility.
Mompreneurs aren’t perfect. We’re just like every other mom: we have bad hair days, got-up-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-bed days, grumpy and emotional days. We are just as guilty of being impatient with our children. We are just as prone to being distracted by the tyranny of the urgent. We don’t and we can’t do it all.
But we have the opportunity to be with our children day in and day out, even if we’re working while we’re with them. We get to help contribute to the family’s income, without having to leave the house. And we get to show our children how to work hard and balance our priorities, even if we don’t do it perfectly.
No, Mompreneurs don’t do it all. But we love what we do.
P.S. I was recently interviewed by fellow mommy blogger Emily C. Gardner about motherhood, writing, and what it’s like when your words are a hobby and a business. Visit Emily’s site to read the interview and learn more about the behind the scenes of my work at home.