I am blessed and privileged to be able to call myself both a mother and an entrepreneur – not all women get to be a mother or to start a business – I’m aware of just how lucky I am to be able to be both.
Like most working mums and business women, life can be a daily struggle. I regularly find myself wondering if I’m doing the right thing for my children, spending enough time with them, if I’m selfish for wanting to be a successful entrepreneur and the best mother I can be? Are the two mutually exclusive? Is it really possible to be great at both?
So as we approach International Women’s Day 2019 - with #BalanceforBetter as the theme, I wanted to write a few words about this elusive idea of “balance” that us working women strive so hard to achieve.
I didn’t have a great start to motherhood. When my kids were very young – just 6 months & 18 months old respectively, my relationship with their father broke down and I, along with the kids moved out of the family home. Four long hard years of being a single parent followed, working in a fairly demanding job in the public sector by day, while trying to parent two kiddies just a year apart in age by night, the daily feelings of guilt, the juggling, the logistics, the money worries, the exhaustion….
But against the odds we came through it. I went on to meet and marry the most wonderful man, become a step mum and start a business baking biscuits and more recently coaching & mentoring for food entrepreneurs. And my kiddies have grown into the two loveliest people – independent, well balanced and caring. I know every parent says this but I really am so proud of them, and any achievements I’ve had in my business life are engulfed by my pride in my children.
Alongside a growing business which at times can be all encompassing we also have a fairly complex set up as a blended family with half the family in Luton, half the family in Bath, step kids, exes, weekends when the kids are here, weekends when they are away.
It’s not at all where I dreamed I’d end up and we have our moments, but somehow we make it work.
How? Well, I don’t by any means have the perfect recipe but I’ve shared some musings below on what balance looks like for us:
My kids do need me and my undivided attention on a daily basis and I try to make sure they get it but it’s okay that I don’t spend every waking moment with them or thinking about them. It’s taken me a long time to be okay with this. I’ve learnt to focus on work when I’m ‘at work‘ and on them when I’m at home. It doesn’t always work out like but I do try really hard.
Get them involved
It has been so exciting to share my business journey with my kids and involve them. They love being the official biscuit tasters, they often help out at events, & with admin tasks. Sometimes just by helping out at home, putting on dinner, running the hoover round. They very much see this as a family business that they are part of and we are learning as we go.
It takes a village.......
You’ve heard the saying that it takes a whole village to raise a child? My kids have a fantastic relationship with both me and with their dad. Ditto for their grandparents, uncles & aunts, cousins & extended family. We all have a part to play in raising happy children, I’m blessed to be surrounded by a great support network. Because of our set up with the kids splitting their weekends between our home and their dad's throughout their childhood I've felt like I've shared them. So it's become second nature to allow others in, to accept help. After a while I learnt to see it for the benefits it gives my kiddies, and less on feeling inadequate because I wasn't doing it all myself.
With homework, the school run, playdates, afterschool activities and for my two – weekends with their dad every other weekend – life can be pretty hectic and a constant battle against the clock. So I try not to overload our already busy schedules with lots of extra activities. Don’t get me wrong, learning is very important in our family, and I do push them and encourage them to do their very best at their studies, and they have opportunities to join clubs, take part in sports etc.
But both they and I need our down time. Unstructured time spent chilling, pottering about, doing the simple things – reading a book together, taking a walk, popping out for a hot chocolate or just doing ‘nothing’. As long as they do the very best at the things they do – its enough.
Aspirations for the future
Aside from doing the very best they can in their academic life, if I have one main very simple but very important aspiration for them as they grow up its this: the ability to form lasting relationships. Far more than a string of qualifications or any other achievement, it is this one thing that will get them through. Making & sustaining friendships, valuing family, of being able to love and be loved, this, in my humble opinion is the cornerstone to a long & happy life. If I can help them to learn one thing in their childhood, it is this.
So this is #BalanceforBetter motherhood my way. It’s about not stressing over some artificial idea of perfection. I’m not normally one for giving advice but if I did it would be this (apologies for the baking analogy) – you don’t need to have the whole packet of biscuits to be happy. It’s really tempting – but usually leads to feelings of excess, bloating & ultimately dissatisfaction. Just one or two biscuits at a time is usually plenty – and more than enough as part of a healthy, balanced life. It's a bit clumsy as an analogy but you get the idea?
If you’ve got any thoughts or musings you’d like to share on being a Mum, Dad or parent entrepreneur then do leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear from you
Til the next time
Before you go - are you a member of my facebook groups for food entrepreneurs where I offer support and amazing helpful communities?
For a general group of food entrepreneurs join my Kitchen Table Entrepreneur Group
For a group specific to female food entrepreneurs join my Secrets to Scale Group
Do come and get involved - I'd love to get to know you and your food business some more.
Other blog posts you might like to read:
Hey I'm Nila. I make beautiful iced biscuits and I'd like to help you launch or scale your baking business. Welcome to my blog.