Today I’d like to share my story as a mom (and soon-to-be mom of twins!) and businesswoman. As a founder of Life in Play and the voice of Prêt-à-Diaper, I rarely discuss my own personal opinions and feelings, but I think it’s important to be more than just a name and photo on our “about” page. I’m a mom, just like you, and I happen to be a business owner. I know this isn’t a unique situation as there are plenty of moms who own a business, are building a business, or have a great idea and want to start a business. I’ve always valued learning from other moms and hope you’re able to take something away from my experiences.
A New Mom with a Decision to Make
Over two years ago I found myself in completely new territory. I was a new mom, with a beautiful baby girl, who had just stumbled upon an idea that could become an amazing business. Starting a business wasn’t completely new to me. For the past three years, I was working on a small bridesmaid dress collection that I sold wholesale to local boutiques. I loved my work but was already facing the challenges that every parent knows - splitting your time between work and family.
Making the decision to turn my newly developed organizer design into a business was a tough decision for me because my gut instinct is always, “turn it into a business!”. I knew what I created was useful, and something other moms and dads could benefit from. What held me back from jumping in headfirst was my current status as a new mom and just getting back into the swing of things at work. I already had a tough time scaling back my hours to working part-time, while being the designer and main seamstress for my bridesmaid dress collection. My heart told me to go for it and start this new business, but my brain said, “are you also adding 12 hours to the day? This is crazy!!”
The Guilt of Being a Working Mom
Being a working mom was different than I had expected. I loved my business and didn’t want to let it go. But at the same time, it killed me to see my daughter upset as I left each day for work. The days I was home dedicating all of my time to her and housework, I felt like I was neglecting my business. I wasn’t able to meet with clients as I had done in the past, and the workload just piled up. It took me a long time to stop feeling guilty for working on my business and guilty for leaving my business for a day or two to focus on being a mom. I’m not sure if that guilt is completely gone because to this day I still struggle with balancing my family and my business. The phrase “work – life balance” is an interesting one for me. Has anyone perfected this balance? To me, it seems like such an objective thing. One day I may feel good about the time I’m dedicating to each. On another day, I may need to give more time than usual to one side, which leaves me feeling completely guilty again. My hope is the guilt begins to subside over the years, and I can let go of trying to be the “perfect” mom and businesswoman. It’s clearly not a realistic goal.
As you may have guessed, I did decide to turn this organizer idea into a business just a little over a year ago (April 2014). From this point forward, Life in Play was in full swing, and there was no turning back. In parallel, my daughter was about a year and a half old, growing more and more independent every day. As I watched her transform from a delicate baby into a confident toddler, the guilt of not being a full-time mom subsided a little. I could see just how much she enjoyed spending time with other family members and her friends. I remember telling my mom that I was afraid if I weren't spending all day with her, she would build a stronger bond with someone else - that would absolutely kill me! My mom gave me the best piece of advice that day. She told me that my bond with my daughter would never change because I’m her mother. No matter what happened she would always have a special place for me in her heart just because I’m her mom. Being afraid to let my daughter build strong relationships with others in her life (even other mother figures) would be such a disservice to her. The best scenario for my daughter is to have a wonderful relationship and bond with me but also to have very strong relationships with other adults in her life. It took a while for that to sink in, but now I see just how valuable her advice was. Knowing that my daughter will be loved and cared for (just as I do) by others in her life is such a blessing. With that, I was able to let go of most of the guilt of being a working mom. It also helped me understand that the guilt I felt was only about me and not my daughter. She was perfectly fine with our daily routine, and it allowed her to build relationships beyond just me. It’s funny to think that I’ve built two businesses yet I strongly believe being a mom is so much harder! Not just for the amount of work it takes to be a parent, but for the emotional side of it. I’ve always been very attached to my businesses, but nothing compares a sassy little 25lb toddler who can completely melt my heart beyond anything I ever expected.
Just as I thought I had it all figured out, everything changed in a split-second. My husband and I were ready to add to our family once again. We were blessed to learn I was pregnant in the fall of 2014. As the type-A, business-minded people we are, we had our new edition scheduled and budgeted. We knew exactly how a new baby would fit into our lives and were excited to get into the pregnancy. Then we discovered our second blessing. TWINS!!
Part 2 coming next week!