So, Noah is 2 1/2 years old, and I’m just now sitting down to write about this topic of balancing motherhood & business.
Why has it taken this long?
Well, because it’s taken me approximately this amount of time to figure out my own version of what “balance” between the two things looks like and feels like…. let alone to explain it to others in a (hopefully) helpful way.
It’s been one of the biggest periods of growth, this pursuit of figuring out what kind of set-up will work best for me.
And —–it’s been anything but perfect. There’s been times where it’s felt totally in flow, times where things felt clunky, times where I’ve felt stressed, times I’ve felt so present and intentional in both of my roles, and times where I’ve felt anything but that.
Which is why I wanted to write this post.
It’s not a topic that’s talked about much. At least publicly or openly.
For being someone well immersed in the world of small businesses & entrepreneurship & coaching, even I had a really hard time finding examples of different ways women set it up for themselves. Most of the entrepreneurial women and mentors I know that are a decade ahead of me, that had been paving the way with running their own business…. well, none of them decided to have kids.
Or they are men, *most* of which (aside from a short paternity leave) never had to factor in a lot of time of slowing down in their career or making extra room in their daily business life to grow a baby, birth one, recover, re-balance their hormones and body, and then navigate a daily schedule around feeding, nursing, etc. There are always exceptions, but for the most part, what I was seeing was either one of these two cases above.
But things are changing in our world. Women are dominating the small-business scene. More are pouring into the workforce and are starting to question the older societal constructs that say it’s an either/or equation: you’re either working full time, or you’re full-time at home with your babies. I have no doubt that this will be a more common thing that’s talked about (hopefully), as more and more girls and young women start businesses every single day.
As with all things, I am fascinated by the grey space in-between the extremes: of all the other possibilities in between that are less traditional, but absolutely an option if you’re willing to get a little creative and open your mind.
Especially for mama entrepreneurs, where the lines are a little more blurred— where your time is technically a little more under your own control & discretion compared to the majority of corporate jobs and careers.
If you have been around these parts for a while, you may know that I started my business a few years after college, at the age of 26. I was never in a big rush to get married right away or have kids immediately, although I knew I eventually wanted those things.
I knew I wanted to build something for myself first: a career I was passionate about. To be so secure in my own self, and who I was and what I wanted and needed. To be independently happy, financially able to provide for myself, and to feel whole and complete, before ever combining a life with someone else.
That was just who I was, and what I knew I wanted. It’s different for everyone, but for me, this is what felt the most aligned to me and how I wanted to approach my life. You can’t always control how things play out of course, but that was my vision. ^ Which I think is important to have in your life, no matter what stage or season you’re in.
And I’m so glad that I did.
In those first few years, I poured almost all my time and energy into starting my business. The late nights. The years of work behind-the-scenes that no one ever sees. The excitement. The risk. The nerves. The all-encompassing thoughts, time and love that goes into creating a company, a brand based on what you care about the most. It’s so much of your LIFE. Happily (most days).
I met Kyle 2 1/2 years in, and as we dated, got engaged and got married over the next 2 years, we always knew and talked about having a family. But we were on the same page– we were wanting to grow our careers and life together with each other first, before immediately jumping into having babies (even though all of our friends were already married and had started to have kids). We were on our own timeline, and felt good about it. I knew I wanted to wait at least a year after getting married before we thought about kids.
I’m so glad that we did.
This not to say you can’t or shouldn’t start a business if you have little ones— some of the most successful businesses I know have done exactly that!
But for me personally, looking back, it’s what felt right. It’s something I’m so grateful for now– that I took that time when I had it to start my business. It’s enabled me to have such a strong foundation in business, and to be so much more fully ready and excited when it came to add “mama” to my title. Both were intentional choices.
So a sidenote & word of advice for my younger women readers: get out there and do it. Go for your dreams. You have plenty of time for all that you want to call in to your life. Take your twenties to find out what you love, who you are, and what lights you up, and pour so much into that. And for my women in their 30’s, 40’s and beyond: it’s never too late to start. It may look a little different time wise, but it’s always always worth doing for yourself, your soul, your happiness and your life-force.
You can create what you want. And you don’t have to do it the way everyone else is. Embrace YOUR own journey, however it looks.
So, I was grateful for my timing, but to be honest, I was scared to add in another BIG thing in my life, because it already felt so full, busy and complete.
Simply Real Health was my first baby. I’d worked sooooo hard to create everything that it is (this year we celebrated 9 years!!!). It’s my passion. My calling. And so much of my life and time– it’s all poured into it with so much care and love.
One of my biggest fears before becoming a mom was this: how would I do both? How would I navigate still growing and working in and on my business AND be the kind of mom I wanted to be: as present as possible, intentional, calm, focused on what mattered to me, and able to soak up and enjoy as many little moments as possible with my babies when they’re young.
That has always been my vision and hope as a mom. And it was something that was super important for me to define and always come back to.
Yours may be something completely different, and it’s a great place to start and actually think about: what do you WANT it to look like? Feel like?
That would be my first piece of advice. Asking yourself that question FIRST and see what comes up. Even if you don’t know the “how” to get there. First define what you want your life to look like and be (usually based on your values, what you know about yourself, and your dreams for your life).
The first 5 years in business:
I could do whatever I wanted and needed to do. I was working 35-40 hours /week (give or take, with some nights, weekend stuff, etc). I had written my first cookbook, gotten married, and had the time and bandwidth and capacity to say YES to all the things— networking, nighttime events, all-nighters, etc). I was doing mostly one-on-one coaching, driving around all day meeting clients at their houses, the grocery store or doing calls/appointments online, blogging (always), creating recipes, writing my seasonal meal plans to sell online, selling, marketing and distributing the cookbook, etc. I was a one-woman show, wearing and doing every single hat, because that’s what you do as a solo-entrepreneur.
I started to learn a tiny bit about scaling when I did B-school (as most of you have read my experience with)– mostly starting to offer more things online, so that I could serve more people than the limited one-on-one coaching spots I had that were already full. And it helped lessen the busy-ness. But didn’t change a ton of my working hours.
I was making great money starting at year 2. And so proud of myself for it. And…….I was working all the time. But I didn’t mind.
When I started to feel more ready to try for a baby, I had a freakout. I pushed the timeline back. I still had more things I wanted to do in my business first (like another cookbook, above). My brain couldn’t really understand how it could all work.
But I did know this: I wouldn’t be able to pour every waking hour into my business anymore, if I wanted to also be around and give myself some time and space to enjoy being a new mama.
I came to the realization: I would need some help in my business.
Cue more fear.
What did that even look like? How would I find someone? How did that even work to bring someone on? Like most business owners, I was a control freak. I thought I was the only one that could do all the things.
With the help of a mastermind I had joined that year, I was able to bust through some of my own mental obstacles around it, and finally bring on my first team member– a right hand gal (hi Kate– she’s been with me for 4 years now! :)) We started small, slowly offloading some of the nitty gritty tasks I was doing that didn’t have to be me.
The Next 4 Years:
And then, I got pregnant.
And soooooo sick, as most of you know (read the full story here if you’re curious). I couldn’t even look at a computer screen for 4 months without throwing up. Let alone run my business like I had before, doing everything myself.
It was then I realized that a lot was going to have to shift. Morning sickness was just a tiny practice round of having an actual newborn, then baby, then toddler, and I knew it. Let alone if I ever wanted to have another baby (aka, now writing this pregnant with baby #2 & a hyperemesis pregnancy, big life changes like moving….. let me tell you– that first morning sickness was just a practice round. And looking back on it now, I’m glad it happened that way to give me a little wake-up call).
It was suddenly so very apparent to me that I couldn’t do it alone. I shouldn’t be, if I was being a good caretaker of the business. And of myself. And my sanity. And how I wanted to be as a mama.
I also knew in my heart that I still wanted to do both things. Just because my life was expanding and growing didn’t mean that my business had to stop or shrink.
I just needed a whole new way to look at things.
It was time to uplevel, yet again.
So, I started the search — who knew how to do this? Who was doing it well? Who inside the online business space knew about building a team and scaling in a intentional and aligned way with the rest of your life?
This is how I found James Wedmore, who many of you have heard me talk about over the last few years. I had heard his podcast before, and loved that he talked about this stuff….but also the mindset stuff behind business. And woo-woo stuff too. About purpose and alignment and all the personal growth pillars that are required to sustain, and grow your business for the long haul.
I listened to a free workshop he was offering back then, and it was all about in order to see growth in your business– in order to scale and free up your time and energy, and get help and support doing so, you had to shift from treating yourself like a overworked employee in your own business (oh hi…. it me) to having the mindset of being a CEO of your business. You act, think, and make decisions VERY differently when you do so, and start thinking of yourself in that way vs the scrappy entrepreneur working at all hours of the day doing everything on their own.
I felt called out.
As he kept talking, it wasn’t about putting in more hours. Or spending more time in your business. It was about getting smarter with what you ARE doing in the hours you have. And focuses more on the high impact tasks (aka the revenue generators) vs everything on your to-do list.
At that point, Noah had been born. Life had changed. My viewpoint had changed. And suddenly it all started to click for me.
I had taken a maternity leave, with the help of my small team (back then it was me and 2 others, hi Kate and Jordyn :))
I realized the power of having help. And how much I was limiting myself, and my capacity to serve and help more people by NOT having help. And how much I personally didn’t have to be doing (that others could) and how capable the women on my team were in taking care of things as I stepped back for 2 months.
When I came back, I had a new perspective. That I could make better use of my time and energy in my work— even if it was more limited than before with the expansion of Noah in my life.
I came to realize that for me, 20-25 hours a week was what felt doable and life-giving and a good balance of both, with some time for myself built in there too. And also left me enough time to be with Noah in the mornings, late afternoons and evenings, and with him all day on Fridays. So 4 days a week, 10-3:30pm became my work hours (with the help of childcare for that– from 10-1:30pm M-Thurs, plus Noah napping from 1:30-3:30pm).
All of that was my choice. And what felt right to me.
I started to see that it might be possible to not only maintain my business, but continue to actually GROW it, with some of the shifts that James was talking about.
So much of it had to do with my mentality first. And I had a lot of blocks around it at first—- my brain immediately went to the “but, how?!” or “that won’t or can’t work for me” instead of actually taking in what he was explaining.
But soon enough, I started loosening up my tight grip and being open to a new perspective.
I started binging on his podcasts and eventually ended up signing up for his program (BBD, Business by Design that opens end of June, which I might lead a group through this year if there’s enough interest) because I was all in on learning a new way to be– or things I could adapt for my business and life. I loved that he taught the high-level mindset stuff but also the nitty-gritty how-to’s, the exact systems, gave step-by-step tutorials and guides on things like hiring and running a team, backend systems and strategies that free up your time, and just all the practical stuff I needed to see to give me the kick in the pants to start doing those things in my own business (aka, all the things that were not naturally my strong suit).
So either way, I think of of the things that made the biggest difference for me in this transition of being a mama AND a business owner, is always being down to learn. To be a newbie at something. To trust yourself and your instincts enough to try things, test things out, expand and learn and grow, vs staying stuck or always having to do things the way you always have. Or the way that everyone else is doing things.
To come back and always be checking in with yourself on what’s aligned with YOUR vision of the future, and YOUR dreams for your life.
And starting there first.
In motherhood, in business, in my life, I have found that it’s always true.
Whenever something big happens in life– a big life transition, a baby, a move, something you didn’t expect, etc, it’s been another lesson in coming back to the mentality that you can always figure out a way to make it work has given me so much peace. I’m in a season of so many of those things right now personally.
And I keep being reminded that:
There are always SO MANY options than just the most obvious or most traditional. So many choices. So many creative ways to make things work, if you’re willing to see (and search and hunt them down). They DO exist– the teachers, the solutions, the ideas to try, ALL of it.
It’s not always a easy click of a button or a quick fix to get there (hello 2 1/2 years of trying, testing, learning and navigating over here). But it’s always something worth doing. Especially for the things you care about a lot in your life.
And— let’s be real— it is NOT perfect by any means. Most days I’m bopping around in my messy bun and workout clothes, tapping in and out of mom life and CEO life (in chunks of time of course so I don’t go crazy). I have help– both strongly in my business now (we’re a team of 5 today) and with Noah (thanks to grandma). And with other things in life and around the house so that I can stay hyper-focused in that time on working (things like grocery delivery via instacart each week, using tools like a instantpot for cooking, or great pre-prepped food options on busy days (like our daily harvest smoothies and bowls in the freezer), having help cleaning the house, and outsourcing as much as I’m able to).
It’s not seamless by any means and things still do come up where I have to change my plans, adjust on the fly, etc. I work at night when I need to, in busy seasons, and sometimes on weekend naptimes too. But it feels GOOD for the most part. And balanced– to me, for right now.
But I’m doing it, imperfectly. I’m still showing up. For myself, for my team, for my family and for my life.
I’m still figuring some things out, and still constantly learning and immersing myself into this world more, so that I can continue to have and do both things with all of my heart. Especially with another baby coming along soon, I know it will be time to shift and uplevel yet again and find a new rhythm.
But I want this post to just encourage you.
If you are woman if you’re reading this post, to keep going for your dreams. To keep pursuing the things that light you up and fulfill you. It can look a lot of different ways as a mama, and it’s different for us all. But to keep listening and tuning in to your instincts. So many things are more possible than you might think, if you’re willing to take a chance, stay true to your own heart and desires, learn or try a new way, or test different things out.
The best things in my life have always happened when I do.
Ok, I have so much more to say on this topic, maybe I’ll have to do another post. Let me know if there is anything you’re curious about, or want to know more about on this topic. Send us a note to firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a comment below or DM me at @simplyrealhealth.