I wrote over the summer holidays about how I had found my happy place in business. A place where I felt like I could run a thriving business while also having my whole heart in my role as mum. A place where I felt creative and inspired, rather than pressured and stressed.
It was glorious.
Until it wasn’t.
Shortly after I shared on my socials about this wondrous feeling of balance that I had discovered after years of experimentation (and mentoring others to do the same), I got sick.
And then I didn’t really get better.
Lingering bronchitis and fatigue had me feeling the pits for weeks and weeks on end.
My youngest started school and somehow we managed that transition (check out my recent blog post on managing transitions if you want to read more) but I was far from the parent I wanted to be and the stress of continuously needing to reschedule commitments workwise was getting to me.
Not long afterwards, my partner ended up in hospital with something potentially life-threatening.
And during all of this, our builders finally started work on our long-awaited renovations – and this sent us into five weeks of Airbnb hopping.
As a social worker who works with mums during some of the biggest transitions life has to offer I know that nothing creates anxiety, worry and stress more than feeling as though we lack control. That things are happening to us. In fact, there are many studies that have demonstrated the link between perception of autonomy and psychological wellbeing. In short, the less control we feel we have, the worse off our mental health becomes.
By autumn, I felt exhausted and defeated. Moving between short-term accommodation amid uncertainty of when we could return, the lingering illness and the constant juggling of life, kids and work had me right back at burnout. I felt guilty for not being able to cope better and I stopped sharing so much about business because I didn’t feel like I was walking my walk.
Luckily, I reached out for support and started setting some new expectations of myself. I stopped trying to function as if all of the chaos hadn’t happened and instead started to fit my business around life as it is in this moment, in this season. I remembered that my business has to work for me and my family – that it’s OK to put some things on the back burner while I tend elsewhere.
And I realised that sometimes it’s OK to put work in maintenance mode while we restore our energy and find our own equilibrium and sense of autonomy again. It was during this recovery as I worked on doing the basics – sleeping more, managing my stress, reducing expectations – that my creativity and inspiration returned.
And it was during this period that I remembered that I needed to give myself the same grace I offer to my clients. That I remembered that people don’t come to me because I’m perfect, but because I’m willing to keep finding my way back to my values. Back to community. Back to what felt authentic and aligned for me, in the season that my family and I are in.
And so in celebration of being back and so excited about all that the remainder of this year has to offer, I’m sharing my top three tips when you feel like running a business and being a mum cannot possibly co-exist. I hope that these tips offer you some grace in the moments you need them most.
Dial down the expectations – would you still feel like a failure if you hadn’t have set the expectations so high? Often we are our own worst enemies and critics in business – we have rigid and static expectations that lead to stress and overwhelm.
Being a mum can require us to hold business with a little more malleability, a little more flexibility. It can require us to use our muscles of adaptation and prioritisation in order to keep steadily finding a path forward.
Celebrate the little wins – often we are so busy looking for the GIANT wins that we fail to pat ourselves on the back for the little wins. Building a business and client base takes time – and slow and steady is most often how we get there. Next time you finish something small, have a great conversation or work something out in your head, give yourself a high five. You’re building something with deep, solid roots – and that will last through all the seasons and cycles ahead.
Expand your concept of ‘work time’ – as a mum, your work time may not be tranquil time in an office with a salt lamp and steaming mug of tea. Often, it’s going to be typing something with one hand while preparing a snack with the other. It’s probably going to be rushed phone calls in cars, constant rescheduling and time spent on the computer late at night when you finally have a moment to yourself. And all of that is OK if that is what you need to do and it’s working for you! Who said work had to look a certain way to be valid? As mums we have nothing to apologise for and the more we start normalising running businesses in ways that work for us and our families, the more we give permission to other mums to do the same, while dropping the self-doubt and guilt in the process.
Do you want business inspiration, practical advice and connection with like-minded mums? My mentoring program for mums in business, Nurtured, is now open and enrolling. It’s a beautiful intimate space where you can get support and learn a way of doing business that includes and honours your role as mum and everything that comes along with it.
We start on Wednesday 10th of May and you can learn more here.