There are women all around the world performing an amazing juggling act on a daily basis. To be honest since having children I have regularly looked back on my pre-child life and wondered how on earth I filled my time! In my post-baby life, I am pretty amazed at how much I can achieve in just one day. Women these days can do it all - have babies and a career. Whether they should is a huge debate and one for another time, however regardless of this, the daily juggle is very real.
If someone told me after I had my first baby that I’d be starting my own business after having my second, I would have gone into meltdown (more so than I already was!) but that is exactly what I am doing. It was only 3 months after having my second baby that I decided I didn’t want to go back to work in the normal way. I must have still been high on gas and air! My husband certainly wondered what had got in to me. I was just all of a sudden filled with a determination to change my situation by choosing flexibility and therefore happiness.
Here are my top tips for anyone at the 'should I' stage of starting their own business from home:
- Research, research, research!
- Professional stalking of others who have already been there and done it, including contacting them to talk through their experiences. Generally successful peopleare happy to help others to be successful–find out what they would have done differently.
- Join inspirational webinars hosted by successful business men and women in your field or in an area you feel would benefit your business. There are lots of freebies on offer.
- Sign up to groups related to your area of interest on social media or where your potential clients may be hanging out on-line.
- Surround yourself with positive like minded people. I found a local networking group that is held at a soft play venue so the children can be entertained while you talk business or learn a new skill. I am unlikely to gain many clients from this group but the support network is important for when the self-doubt creeps in.
- Establish your priorities–for me I still have a six month old baby and a four year old starting school in September. They come first. I am not prepared to take on too many clients when the largest proportion of my time and energy is needed at home.
- Write down your goals, short term first. Make them achievable and stay focussed.
- Don’t get carried away–slow and steady wins the race!
Having children changes your perspective and priorities...
It certainly did mine. I didn’t lose my drive or ambition but I did gain mother's guilt. I questioned for three years if I was doing the right thing by going back to work after having my first son. I decided on part-time thinking this would give me the best of both worlds; this was not the case. Whilst at work I felt guilty that I wasn’t with my baby, I’d think of all the housework I hadn’t done, baby classes I was missing and nutritious meals I wasn’t making. When at home I’d think of what I was missing at work and those progressing ahead of me because I was now only part time and had baby brain! I ended up bouncing around various admin jobs that didn’t really feel fulfilling.
It was after baby number two that I decided enough was enough. I wanted more than to be a part time PA, I wanted to be able to take and pick up my son from school and work the hours to suit me. I love being a PA and helping people develop and grow their businesses and I am now excited to be able to continue doing this while running my own business at the same time, which is something new, exciting and challenging for me.
It sounds perfect on paper but this is by no means the easy option. I still have all the same work-life balance challenges as before but now it is not a case of rolling into work and getting paid. I have to promote my business, gain and retain clients and keep motivated all whilst raising my family. Work and home become blurred as my office is in my house and I have to walk past that pile of washing, my son’s unmade bed and a sink full of dishes. I like a clean and tidy house but I now have clients relying on me too!
So what is the answer to this work-life-balance thing I hear you cry?
Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all, however the most useful string to my bow is organisation and sticking to a routine. I decided to start up Carly Rose Virtual PA Services so that I could be flexible about working hours, and whilst I am flexible, my routine is vital in managing the mummy juggle. A new client might mean changing the routine but any working mummy is nothing if not adaptable!
Whatever you decide to do; stay at home with your children, go back to work full time or any variation in-between, the most important thing is to own your decision and not feel guilty about it. The decision you made will be what is best for you and your family.
I am still very much in the early stages of my business and often find I am physically juggling work, the house and the children. Last week I was logged into a webinar learning about Blogging whilst cooking dinner and holding baby number two in one arm because sitting on his play mat was unacceptable! I often work of an evening after putting the boys to bed with the faint smell of spit up milk wafting up from my top. The mummy juggle is not always glamorous but my clients never need to know as to them I remain polished, poised and prepared!
My final piece of advice in tackling this mummy juggle would be to accept offered help. Many of us struggle to ask for or accept help but this is so important to succeed. Sometimes something has to give and if a grandparent or friend offers to take your little one for the morning, smile and say yes! You might get double the work done than you would have with the children running around and even get to sneak in a nice hot cup of tea.