Five Strategies for Balancing Motherhood and Business: Help for the Work-at-Home Mom

Today’s post is brought to you by Teresa Ceniccola who serves as a mentor to moms who are running a business. As president and founder of the International Christian Mompreneur Network, Teresa empowers entrepreneurial moms to build profitable businesses with wisdom and grace.  

You can join the International Christian Mompreneur Network for free and receive the Ten Commandments of a Mompreneur toolkit!

If you join in our discussions this week, you’ll also be entered to win the Hearts at Home book Balance That Works When Life Doesn’t by Susie Larson. 

Being a “mompreneur” is not a part time job. It’s two full time jobs. As a mom, you’re on the job 24/7 –no matter how many loads of laundry you folded or tears you wiped away today, there will be more tomorrow. If you think being a business owner is any less demanding, I have news for you – your work is never finished in the office either!

That’s because entrepreneurs have ridiculously creative minds that work faster than their fingers. They have no less than a dozen ideas at any given time. They don’t need help getting started on a new project (even when they are in the middle of three other activities). But they do need help balancing it all.

Here are five tips for balancing motherhood and business with grace and ease:

Surrender to the Schedule: If you’ve had the same six things on your To-Do list for a month, it’s time to stop squeezing in time for your business and start creating a schedule. Sometimes moms resist a schedule because we want to put family first, only working during naptime or in the wee hours of the night. But flexibility often comes at the expense of productivity (and profits!).

Establishing a work schedule will help you set a routine that leaves ample room for business and family. Even if you can only devote one hour a day to your business, schedule that time in your calendar. When you structure your time and prioritize your tasks, you move throughout your day with a sense of purpose. And you know exactly what you need to do next.

Set Boundaries: One of the benefits of being an entrepreneur is the ability to work when, where and how I choose. At first, this freedom was liberating – I would go to the gym in the middle of the day and work late into the evening. As long as I made time for my husband, I worked whenever I wanted. But as my family grew, so did my need for setting boundaries.

I quickly realized that I needed dedicated space for work. Having a separate office (or even a corner of a room) is a great way to establish boundaries. Children learn to recognize that when mom is in her office, she is working and cannot be disturbed. One of my clients who doesn’t have a physical space developed a system in which she wears a special hat to indicate that she’s working. The kids think it’s fun and they have learned to honor it.

Say No: The key to preventing overwhelm is to spend your time doing ONLY the things that are in alignment with your priorities. That means saying no to anything that steals your time, your joy and your heart away from following God’s plan for you.

I urge you to be ruthless with your responses to requests and invitations. Just because you’ve been asked or invited to do something, doesn’t mean you are required to say yes! Take an honest look at how you spend your time and find five things you are doing out of guilt, habit or obligation. Is it possible that somebody else could step up and fill that spot? What would happen if it just didn’t get done at all?

Spend Time Alone: Moms need to have time alone for self-care. Time to pray, reflect, meditate, journal or simply bask in the silence of our own thoughts. It doesn’t matter if you are a stay-at-home mom, working mom or mompreneur – this time of solitude is required. It’s not a luxury. If we don’t leave space in our day to listen for God, how will we know if we’re on the right path?

What activities replenish your mind, body and soul? Daily devotions, exercise, nature walks, bubble bath? Don’t just dream about it – schedule time for it in your calendar.

Seek Support: Running a solo home-based business can leave you feeling isolated and overwhelmed. If you’re wondering where the reward is for the one-woman-show you’ve been performing, I’m sorry to tell you there’s no shiny trophy at the end of this race. Only resentment and frustration. The solution is to rely on the support of others.

I know what you’re thinking…sometimes it’s easier to just do everything yourself than find someone else to help. They won’t do a good job. You don’t have time to explain it. It costs too much money….Blah, blah, blah. I get it. I’ve used all the same excuses. But the truth is, God blessed me with a talent – not an entire array of skills that include everything from bookkeeping to gardening. So I’ve learned to rely on others whose gifts complement mine. Together, we make a pretty impressive Superhero family.

What about you? Are you a mompreneur? Do you work out of your home? What other tips do you have to share about balancing motherhood and business?  

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12 Responses to Five Strategies for Balancing Motherhood and Business: Help for the Work-at-Home Mom

  1. Julia Reffner says:

    Thanks for these hints, I’m not an entrepreneur but do some freelance writing in addition to being a homeschool mom so these tips were helpful. I do need to establish a schedule because it seems like I’m always having to stay up until 12 to meet those deadlines and then I’m not giving the best to my family the next morning.

  2. Glad you find them helpful, Julia! A schedule is one of those things we want to resist but we know our life would be better with it in place:-) And you are right – you don’t want to be staying up late for work and then paying the price by being grumpy for the kids the next day. I’ve done that before and it’s no fun! I hope you can find a schedule that works for you!

  3. Sarah Ford says:

    Hi,

    I’m new to this but thanks so much for giving all this great information for free. You are the best! 🙂

  4. Tawnda Andrews says:

    I find scheduling SO difficult!! Especially with triplet 2 year olds! Any suggestions?

    • Honestly, Twanda, I can imagine it would be super difficult to stay on a schedule with 3 two year olds:-)) But I do have two suggestions — 1. Find ONE hour to yourself each day (even if it has to fluctuate some days) but try to commit to giving yourself that one hour even if you have to hire help to do it. And 2. be very realistic and ‘ruthless’ about what you want to accomplish in that hour. Figure out what your TOP PRIORITY is for the week and then work on that goal – and ONLY that goal – during your one hour a day. Sometimes we have SO MUCH on our ‘to do’ list that’s it’s ridiculous to think we can even make a dent in it with the time we are allotted. So we end up doing nothing and then we wonder why we can’t get any where. So maybe just scale back on your expectations but make a commitment to carve out the time you need for yourself and honor that commitment – whatever it is – just like you would a doctor’s appointment or some other important date. Hope this helps:-))

  5. Melany says:

    Oohhh I SO struggle with this! I’m constantly filling sippy cups etc while trying to work. I have to find a way to set boundaries! Thank you for the prompting to work on setting those boundaries. Now….if my four month old could only understand when I have “work” time :).

    • You are lucky, Melany! Your 4-month-old will learn quickly – much faster than a 10 year old – and you’ll find that your children will respect your boundaries because they’ve never known anything different. People ask me all the time how I can get anything done with three kids at home – ages 7, 10 and 12. For the past three weeks of summer I had no babysitter (my sitter went back to college) so they had a schedule and they actually let me work 6-8 hours a day. That’s because they’ve never known anything different. YOU CAN DO IT! Another big tip — if you have something super critical – do it FIRST THING — take care of the MOST IMPORTANT business in the very first hour you have to work – even if that’s while the kids are still sleeping. That way, if your schedule gets chaotic later in the day, at least you’ve accomplished your most important task:-)

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  7. Shelly Burke says:

    It’s hard for me to be a morning person but I love getting tasks done during the early morning hours when no one else is awake to interrupt me. I use the first hour or so of the day for Bible study and prayer; my day inevitably goes better when I do.

    I have also realized that I don’t have to get up early every day of the week. I publish a Christian newspaper (www.nebraskafmilytimes.blogspot.com) and some weeks are busier than others. During the week I find and write the articles for the paper I get up early at least 3 or 4 days, with my reward being I get to go to bed early those nights (I love going to bed early and relaxing!) and sleep in a little when the paper is done. Even when I get up early just a few days, I can get a tremendous amount of work done.

    I’d like to encourage moms of young children to be flexible in finding a schedule that works for you. I’ve written and self-published several books (www.achristianmomsguide.blogspot.com), one when my kids were toddlers. They routinely got up between 5-6AM and I could NOT get up earlier than that to write! During those years I wrote during naps or late at night–they always had fairly early bedtimes. As your kids grow and change, their routine will change and yours will as well. Do NOT give up on your dream! It took several years of concentrated effort to get my book written and it was worth it! Your kids will gradually become more independent and spend time away from you in school, and finding time for your business, whatever it is, will become easier. Every moment you spend with your kids is worth it, and the time goes very fast, so enjoy it!

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