“A wife, a mom, a friend, a daughter, a leader, a writer, a speaker, a CEO, Jen share with the audience how you do you do it all?”
“I don’t. Not at all once.”
I’m not sure that was the answer this gifted business-woman was looking for as she questioned me on the professional panel. But it’s the truth. The truth as I have learned and grown over the past decade. Before then I might have given you some eloquent answer with a ton of tips and happy “how to’s” of handling it all so you could achieve it all and wrap that up with a pretty bow on top. But life and success mixed with more failure and time has taught me otherwise. You can have it, just not all of it and certainly not all at once.
This past week my sixteen-year-old daughter met with her school advisor and academic counselor to set up her courses for Junior year. She is a multi-passionate girl with a lot of gifts and a vision for where her academic and leadership achievements might land her in two years from now in college. Upon selection of classes it became very clear that the ability to continue in advanced dance, be an executive in the student council and enroll in the college courses she desired was simply not possible based on the times, days and locations of this schedule. After both her dad and I, her advisor, dance teacher and another teacher from a different grade level double checked to do everything within reason to make it all happen—something had to give. She could do it all. She has even had it all. Just not all at once. This led us to a conversation about seasons, priorities, and what serves us best right now for the desired outcomes we have in the bigger picture.
Hard as we try we cannot fit a square peg in a round hole. Often when we are pedal to the metal in every area of our life trying to jam it all in, we end up in a crash and burn. Then nothing is accomplished. Perhaps we can do more by taking a look at where we want to go and then evaluating what’s in our hands and working and what will get us to what’s next, while letting go of what might not be for now.
For me it has been helpful to take it a season at a time. It’s summer. And the truth is my kids take a bigger section of my schedule then what is typical. I do run a large business from the same space my kids are constantly occupying. So what’s the long-term goal and what’s the season my business and my babies are in? (They aren’t babies, they are teens, but for the sake of the alliteration—go with me.) As I have grown older alongside of them I have learned how fragile and brief life and work is. And so it is my goal to show up present and savor the goodness of them both.
Here are a few tips to raise up your business and your babies:
1.Know when to nurture and when to let go.
There are some seasons you tend closer to the needs of your kids and let go of some expectations in your business, and some seasons that you nurture your business and learn to let your ideals around what “momming” looks like go. You just never give up on either.
2.Compartmentalize your time.
Working during naps or after bed time is part of the building phase.
3.Include your kids in the journey.
This is not every business woman’s privilege but many of us are building a career that enables us to work from home and create a description on our terms. It’s good for your kids to have you on the floor building blocks, but it’s also good for them to come along for the ride of you building a business.
4.Your motherhood can inspire your work.
When you embrace the messiness of building both—one actually inspires the other. And for many of us work at home moms, our passions fuel us, but our families enrich us and are the reason we continue on.
Every woman has a different journey. Our stories are meant to empower not to be compared.
6.Find your own rhythm.
There is a time to press through and get stuff done and a time to surrender.
7.Care for yourself. Be gentle on YOU.
Don’t get to fixated on how it’s supposed to be. Make a plan and work, and then be ready to grow in the flow.