Managing the Circus: Tips for Juggling Being a Mother + Entrepreneur
Hi everyone! My name is Katie Hunt and I’m an entrepreneur, business strategist, mom to three amazing kids (5yo, 4yo and 1.5yo) and wife to my college sweetheart! Dana asked me to stop by to share how I manage entrepreneurship and parenting in an effort to highlight different perspectives. Love this idea!
Let me start off by saying managing a family and a business is a really hard and personal thing. I’m a firm believer that what works for one mom or dad, doesn’t necessarily work for another. Everyone needs to do what is best for them, their families and their businesses! So, when people frequently ask me ‘how do you do it all?!’ I struggle with my answer because I don’t have a magic formula to offer and I don’t want to imply that I’ve got it all figured out. Because we don’t!
My husband and I are learning as we go and as our three kids get older we’re shifting the way we do things to meet our family’s changing needs. I don’t have all the answers, but my goal is to simplify as much as possible. Below are a few things that have worked for us and I hope they will work for you too!
Lots and lots of help!
Generally speaking, I have a hard time accepting help and maybe worse, asking for help. You too? It is something I’m working on and I feel like I’ve come a long way since having kids, but I can’t stress how invaluable it is to surround your self with people who believe in you, support you, encourage you and offer a helping hand. It truly ‘takes a village’ and my husband and I are very grateful to have a robust village of people supporting us.
At home: Our family, friends, the kid’s schools / teachers, other parents, babysitters, virtual assistants and delivery services all play a part in keeping our family on track. This Fall my oldest starts Kindergarten and the younger two will be in daycare / preschool full time; but over the last five years we’ve used a mix of help at home with the kids – full time babysitters, part time babysitters, at-home daycares, etc. My parents watch the kids for date nights or overnight trips; we team up with other parents / friends to set up carpools, park play dates and birthday parties and we make it a top priority to get to know our kid’s teachers so there is consistency and communication between what is happening at home and school. My virtual assistant does double duty – work and home projects. He recently researched local campsites for our family and booked a weekend camping trip for us in September. In that same vein, I regularly use Instacart for grocery delivery (um, Costco produce & meats delivered in an hour and I can skip the crazy parking lot for a $4 delivery fee, yes please!!) and use Grubhub to order dinner a few times a month. Instacart actually delivered groceries for my son’s birthday party while I was on a coaching call a few weeks ago! Ice, food, drinks & plates arrived at our doorstep… it felt magical.
At work: In the last year I’ve grown my team quite a bit. I hired independent contractors for graphic design projects and to manage my blog, my virtual assistant manages my coaching schedule, invoicing and event prep (among other things), I hired a new CPA and web team and I use a mix of online services such as Task Rabbit, Fivver and Odesk for one-off projects. Hiring help has been a game-changer for my business. With each new hire, my business has grown because I had more time to focus on high level, revenue generating projects and it relieved the stress of feeling like I needed to ‘do it all’ on my own. But most importantly, it allowed me to work fewer hours. I wish I had invested in help sooner.
Dedicated work time & family time
I learned early on that working through naps and late into the night after the kids were in bed wasn’t going to work for me long term. I wasn’t as productive or focused when I was shifting gears between baby duty and work projects and it left me feeling useless on all fronts – to my business, my clients AND my family. My strategy for this has changed over the years and I suspect it will continue to change but for now I have dedicated blocks of time for family and for business; uninterrupted time to focus solely on one or the other. These blocks of time have fluctuated – sometimes being largely family blocks and other times having more time for business. Flexibility is key (more on that later).
At home: When my kids are home I’m not working; email is off and I don’t take client calls. Mornings are pretty crazy around here, so I usually don’t schedule meetings or client calls before 10am. This allows me to get everyone out the door, then come home and get myself ready for the day. One of the perks of working for yourself is that you have more control over your schedule and our mornings are a time that I truly cherish that particular perk. It was much harder when I was working at my day job, getting myself ready, the kids ready, dropping everyone off and commuting an hour to work everyday! Kudos to all you moms that are doing it!
At work: It is incredible how productive I can be when I have uninterrupted time to work. What is that old adage? If you want something done, give it to a busy mom? #truth I use a few strategies to maximize my work day. I batch similar types of projects & tasks. For example, I have 2 days a week reserved for coaching appointments and pre-set hours, I pre-plan and schedule social media posts and I always hold my webinars on the same day and time. Grouping similar projects has helped me streamline quite a bit. Secondly, I *try* to only check my emails twice a day; once around lunch time and then again at the end of the day. I say I’m trying because this is new strategy that I’m testing after working with Beth Penn at Bneato Bar. I realized I was using my inbox as a to do list and spending way too much time writing and responding to emails. Email is no longer the first thing I do in the morning. Instead I start with items at the top of my written to do list, hammer out as much as I can in the morning and turn to email before I head to lunch (I even set a timer for how long I can look at email!). I feel most productive in the morning and so far I’m happy with this new process!
Note to those of you that work late at night but don’t want people to know you’re working (I’ve been there!!), check out Boomerang for Gmail. Boomerang allows you to write your email but send it later (during business hours!). The free version lets you schedule up to 10 emails per month but there are paid plans too. Handy, right?
Patience, Flexibility & Kindness
Everyday is different. Kids get sick, work projects take longer than expected, the computer crashes, we get stuck in traffic, your nanny calls in sick. OR! Maybe it is a gorgeous day out and you want to play hooky and take your kids strawberry picking or to the beach – I’m guilty of this! My point is that life happens, things come up in and flexibility is key to managing these bumps in the road. In general, I think moms place a lot of pressure on themselves to be productive and on top of things (I do!). But, if we take a step back and look at the bigger picture, we’re accomplishing quite a bit every single day, likely more than the average person! So, be kind to yourself. Do your best and remember to celebrate the successes – because you have a lot to celebrate!
Cover photo by Hello Pinecone Photography
Quote images via Danielle LaPorte)
Katie is the founder of Tradeshow Bootcamp, a business coach and mentor to creative entrepreneurs. Katie earned her MBA in marketing and finance from Loyola Marymount University and has spent the last 15 years coaching small businesses on marketing and business development strategies. Katie’s strengths lie in connecting people and bringing ideas to life – brainstorming, making a plan and executing. Through TSBC, Katie has hosted more than 100 webinars, 8 conferences and coached over 525 to independent artists and small businesses. She has a passion for creating, a mind for business and a strong desire to help others succeed. When Katie is not cheering on TSBC alums or dreaming up new programs, you can find her planning adventures with her husband and three young children (5yo, 4yo and 1yo).
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Find out what Katie has coming up…
Katie’s next Paper Camp conference is already sold out (Sept 2015), but she just opened registration for Feb 2016, so check it out and sign up. Paper Camp is a 2-day conference aimed at helping stationery & gift companies create a wholesale program, take it to market and prepare for large scale tradeshows. Find out more here.