When Ellen and I started working from home, we were so concerned with maintaining a professional image that we always made phone calls when our kids were either at school or with a babysitter to keep them quiet or out of the house. We felt it was important that there be no crying, requests for a snack or calls to go potty overheard by those on the other end of the call.
I realize that times have changed and working from home is much more acceptable as a “real career” these days. But the other day I was on a 4-way conference call with some business associates and one of the guys (who works out of his house) had babysitting duties because the kids were between school and camp. His 3-year old and 6-year old were in his home office obviously doing an arts and crafts project because we heard repeated demands for “more glitter” and “colored markers” in the background. Now I find it challenging to participate in conference calls to begin with…especially when someone is on a cell phone. But the kids voices were really distracting. I didn’t say a word, but finally, his superior said “I’m finding it really hard to hear what you’re saying with the kids’ voices in the background…can you do something?” She was half kidding, but I know she would have preferred them out of the room (she has no children.) He explained that the babysitter didn’t show and then found a quieter room to finish the call from.
My feeling is that work-at-home dads still get away with more than work-at-home moms. I know the “rules” are more relaxed now. But most of the mom entrepreneurs I know would still feel it necessary to project a more professional image and would schedule conference calls when they know they have child care coverage or can at least have a chunk of quiet time. Maybe I’m wrong. What are your “rules?” Does it depend on the business you’re conducting and the person you’re talking to? Please share!
This past Friday night, Ellen and I had the pleasure to meet one of our longtime MompreneursOnline.com community members, Gwen Austin. Gwen was in NYC for the annual Toy Fair, and we got together on Friday night to have a glass of wine and some appetizers near her hotel. We had never before met Gwen in person, but as the founder of RC Art Toys and the inventor of some really cool, educational toys, she had been active in our Mompreneurs Online forums for several years, so we were really good “virtual” friends. Geting to meet Gwen in person was such a bonus!
This is not the first time we have had a “live” get together with the inspiring, exciting women we have met on Mompreneurs Online. A couple of years ago, one of our most active members, Janene Jarosek, arranged a mini-reunion in Chicago for about a dozen Mompreneurs from our online community. We were already bonded through the exchange of ideas and experiences in our online community, but this gathering so strengthened our bonds as we shared personal and professional challenges over two days….and had so much fun in the process. We’ve also coordinated a luncheon in NYC for moms in the metropolitan NY area and another of our members, Danielle Zeitlin Hughes, arranged a memorable evening get-together at a restaurant.
What this all says is that you can form really valuable friendships through shared interests and nurturing support in an online community, and we are so grateful to all the women we’ve met over the years at Mompreneurs Online. You have made our community so vibrant and inspirational. We hope to meet each and every one of you in the near future so we can further cement these bonds of friendship and shared experiences.
We’re all in the midst of the crazy holiday season, when shopping, cooking, decorating, family tensions, hyper kids, bad weather and other forces converge on us all at once. Not to mention that you’re trying to work double time so you can take some days off when the holidays actually get here. What’s a mom to do….especially a mom who juggles work and family under the same roof?
Most of all, remember that you can’t do it all. You don’t have to be the one who bakes dozens of cookies from scratch for the cookie exchange or school party. Compromise a little and buy slice and bake dough or purchase holiday cookies in a nice tin. Instead of buying gifts for every family member, do a “secret Santa,” choosing just one name. There’s still time! Or rally the relatives and have everyone agree to donate whatever they would have spent on a present to a good cause, like Share our Strength, which feeds the hungry, or The Water Project, which brings water to African villages, or KIVA, which gives women in third-world countries seed money to start businesses.
If you can’t get your kids everything on their wish list, why not plan a family day as one of the gifts? Ride around one evening and look at all the fabulous holiday lights and the ways neighbors decorate their homes for the holidays, then go out for hot chocolate. Take the kids ice skating or bowling or to an indoor mini golf range. These memories will last longer than the batteries in the new toy under the tree.
Why not take an afternoon off before the kids are out of school for the holidays. Meet a few friends, go out for lunch, go to an art exhibit, get a pedicure, take a yoga class—do something for yourself. You deserve it!
As far as decorating goes, you don’t have to be Martha Stewart this year. Time and money is tight, and the kids are fine with just the minimum….stockings, a small tree and a few lights. Give yourself a break! And try to take some time off from your business. Start the new year feeling a little less stressed!
Can’t believe the holidays are almost here…how did they get here so fast. I’m not ready…are you?
Summer seems to be a challenging time for moms who are running a business and raising a family under the same roof. Many of us arrange our work time around school schedules…whether it’s nursery school or high school…and summer wreaks havoc on that plan! Plus, we all remember those days when we were in school and had the summers off. Even if we worked a summer job or two, the warm weather and lazier pace made summer more relaxed. Some of us want to feel that way again!
If summer is creating a desire in you to spend more time with your kids, laze around on the beach or in the backyard or simply chill out a little, go for it. The beauty of being a mompreneur is that you can more or less adjust your workload when you need to or want to. You might have to play catch-up in the Fall, but that’s when most buyers of products and services are more enthusiastic.
If your business demands are too big to ignore, perhaps you can set aside just one day per week for a “staycation” with your kids. Go to the local town pool or beach, play mini-golf, take in a movie….any of these “breaks” will energize you and your family and make you appreciate summer!
As moms who are trying to balance work and family, we have to make many transitions in our lives. I’ve always found transitions to be tough. I guess I get used to the status quo and am fearful of changing it.
The first transition I made was when my first son was born. I thought I’d be going back to my old job at my publishing company after my maternity leave ended. To my surprise, I couldn’t do it. I loved my job as a magazine editor, but I loved my newborn son much more and I couldn’t leave him. That’s when I became a mompreneur, although I didn’t know I had that “name” in the beginning.
I wanted to get some part-time work, so I sent out notes to everyone I had ever worked with…publicists, other editors, people in the food industry (I was primarily a food writer) and told them I was going out on my own. If they had any work they could throw my way…anything that involved writing, recipe development, whatever…please throw it my way! I was hopeful but had no idea what to expect. We really needed two incomes. Would I be able to bring in enough as a freelancer? How would I juggle taking care of my newborn son if I had a tight deadline?
Three weeks after my son was born, an editor called me up and asked if I could come into the office to develop some recipes and help with the photo shoot. I jumped at the chance! But it involved being away from my son for at least 8 hours. My husband had a job to go to, so he was not available. I quickly called my parents and they offered to help out. So I thought I was all set. Wrong!!!
I couldn’t believe how much I missed my baby in those 8 hours! I called several times just to make sure he was OK. And these were his grandparents watching him! I realized that this whole work-family balance thing was going to be much harder than I thought! And I realized I wanted to do most of my work from a home office so babysitting could be kept to a minimum. Transitioning from a full-time magazine editor to a freelance writer who felt a huge tug between motherhood and work wasn’t going to be easy. I sort of winged it along the way…sometimes more successfully than others!