Launching a company brings a few stereotypical images to mind. We imagine the twenty-somethings living out of someone’s basement, putting everything on the line as they burn through sleepless nights and all of their savings. What we don’t imagine is the new mom, balancing raising a family with starting a company. But for better or for worse, that’s what I did — I was on maternity leave when I launched Mac & Mia.
At the time, it made perfect sense. I had the freedom of not going to a day job for a couple of months. And while there was a new baby to care for, she slept a lot and was thankfully easy. (Had she had colic, it would have been a totally different story!) Now the landscape of my life is a bit different. My husband and I care for two little ones and three not-so-little ones as we manage our day jobs. It’s stressful, to say the least! But I’ve learned a lot — often the hard way — about how to be a mom, a business owner, and a semi-sane human being:
It Takes a Great Team
Obviously, to build a great business you need a great team at work. What’s not as obvious is that this applies at home as well. You need a sitter or nanny you can trust, and friends who can help in a pinch and keep you informed of what’s going on at school and in the neighborhood. And most importantly, you need a partner who believes in the vision of not just the business you’re trying to build but the life you want to lead, and who is willing to help pick up the slack when needed, lend a helping hand, and give advice.
Good is Good Enough
Sometimes good is good enough. I have a tendency to shoot for perfection, an elusive ideal that leaves me feeling like I always come up short. With so many balls in the air I’ve learned not to make perfect the enemy of the good. Some days my family gets a healthy home-cooked dinner, some nights (okay, a lot of nights!) it’s pizza. I try to focus on the important part: coming together as a family, not where I’ve fallen short in preparing a healthy meal.
Be Where You Are
It’s sometimes the most difficult thing but just being present in the moment makes all the difference. When I get home at night I keep my cell phone and computer away until the kids are tucked in bed. Some nights despite my best efforts, I find myself thinking about my lengthy to-do list. When I catch myself going down that road, I try to take a deep breath and refocus on what’s in front of me and how grateful I feel for this very full life. I can’t be there for everything in my kids’ lives but when I am there I can be engaged.
The best thing any busy person can do is prioritize. When I scan my Instagram feed I’m faced with so many moms who make it seem so easy. Well, I can’t do it all–not even close. I can focus on about three things, so I try to keep my three top priorities in mind: my health (physical and emotional), my family, and my work. So that means I’m not the room mom at the kids’ school, laundry goes unwashed, and the house is often dirtier than I’d like. This simple strategy of focusing on three things instead of 300 has left me feeling more successful most days because I don’t take on more than I can reasonably handle.