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Survival Skills for Entrepreneurial Parents

written byTeresia LaRoqueon 18/06/2015

The original title of this post was Survival Skills for Mompreneurs - whether you are a mompreneur or a dadpreneur, all of the skills included can be applied.

For a mompreneur, the terms “competing priorities” and “time management” take on a whole new magnitude of meaning, with stress and guilt lurking around every corner. There are days when I feel torn, compromised, frustrated… not to mention exhausted! But despite its challenges, this is an incredibly fulfilling path to walk, and I feel SO blessed to be doing it.  

After four years of mompreneurship, I’ve realized there is no magical way to feel like you are always giving your best as a mom and an entrepreneur (… and friend, and daughter, and spouse, and domestic diva, and…!) – but there are some very effective strategies for those of us living in the midst of 24/7 responsibilities.  

1. Schedule your personal priorities first!

Left unchecked, a business can easily take over your time, your mind and your energy – and a child can be the same way. Add the two together and you’re at high risk of feeling like a servant to your responsibilities. A tight relationship with your calendar is the best way to keep resentment, exhaustion and burnout at bay.   Start by scheduling in mommy time. Maybe that means every morning until 10, or every Friday afternoon, or unplugged weekends – you decide when you can devote some undivided attention to your little one(s). Schedule that on your calendar first. You’ll have to guard your mommy-time carefully, because there will be a temptation to squeeze other responsibilities into those slots. And, sometimes, you will cave… so remember, 80% is success.   Next, schedule in the activities that “fill your tank” – exercise, date night, lunch with friends, church, whatever keeps you feeling strong and alive.  

Last, schedule your business hours around these priorities. This may seem counter-intuitive to an overachiever, but I assure you, it serves everyone best in the long run.  

2. Recognize the value of maintaining a reserve of time.

In my earlier years as an entrepreneur, I thought that a bit of white space (unscheduled time) in my calendar was a good idea. Now, as a mompreneur, it’s absolutely mission critical!   Why? Because “life happens” a lot more often with a kid around. Minor disasters and major surprises are an undeniable aspect of parenting, and that’s just not compatible with a fully-booked calendar. Having a reserve of time can make all the difference between flowing gracefully with life’s surprises or being completely floored by them.  

So, why is white space so hard to build into a busy lifestyle? Because most of us believe: “The more I do, the more successful I will be.” But the truth is: we are far more productive when our cup is full and we are working from a balanced, grounded place.   White space not only keeps us out of drama and free from the grip of adrenaline; it also lifts us up to new heights of creativity, inspiration and joy. When you make that a priority, it gets easier to prioritize a bit of breathing room.  

3. When “life happens,” check in with your commitments before taking action.

When you’re a mom, even the most carefully planned schedule can go to pieces in a heartbeat (as I realized after two trips to Children’s Hospital in two weeks). There will be last minute changes. You may have to reschedule a meeting that has been planned for months. There will be days when you have to say no to business and yes to the needs of your family. (And for those of us in the “sandwich generation” – supporting aging parents and young children – these days come even more often).  

Setbacks and surprises are inevitable, but how you deal with them makes all the difference. Try these sanity-saving strategies:  

  1. When in crisis, ask three questions - What can I reschedule? What can I delegate? And what should I say no to?
  2. Be transparent. For those of us who hold ourselves to high standards, canceling on a client last minute is very hard to do, and missing deadlines is unacceptable. Be upfront about what’s going on, own your downfalls, and clearly state the next step forward. For the most part, people will understand.
  3. Be willing to ask for help. If you do not have an assistant, get one! As valuable as they are to the average entrepreneur, their support is absolutely essential on the crazy days.

It takes a tremendous amount of diligence to keep a family, a business and yourself running on all cylinders, but with the right strategies and a grounded perspective, it is possible.  

Do you have anything to add to this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences! Please feel free to share your comments below.  

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