Starting a Small Business, Mommy-Style

ImageAs many of you are aware (because you either read my blog, listen to my stories in-person, watch my kids the odd time I need help, or are enrolled in one of my classes), I am in the throws of “starting up a small business”.  And I am also in the throws of “those hard years when your kids need you for every small task”.  Annnd also in the grasp of golf season, which by my husband’s career path, I am automatically a widow from May to November every year.  And so therein lies the issue(s).  The issue(s) cannot be pinned down to the simple fact that I am “busy”, or that I am starting a small business, or that my husband has a crappy job hours-wise, or that I have small children.  It is a WHAMMO type mix of them all…and it has been interesting.

So MANY women choose to stay home with their children, giving up their career, their training, their colleagues for a different way of life: babies, cuddles, messes, tantrums, groceries, boogers, playdates, taxi-ing….NON. STOP.  All women who stay home for their families do it willingly (I’ve never met a woman who has been held at home against her will…but maybe there are a few out there), do it proudly, and do it for only a short time before realizing it is a MUCH harder “job” than anything they did in the workforce.  I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom before I was even working and was thrilled to be able to step into that position a couple of years ago.  However, the road has not always been easy, dealing with huge life changes, transitions that involve giving up something I really loved, losing out on solo bathroom time, and wanting to ban the word “mommy” from the English language.  All of it aside, however, I wouldn’t trade a second of it, I will not give up these years with my babies, and I will always consider myself lucky to have been able to be home.

HOWEVER.  Like SO many other women, I have found the need to channel some of ME back into my life in order to maintain some level of sanity (although some could argue that the past few months have brought me anything BUT sanity), and to make me a better, happier mother to my young kids.  And so, bring on my new venture: a program that will allow me to integrate two of my lifelong loves (teaching and music) into the world of my relatively NEW loves (the sweet little smiley faces that are always waiting for me).  In theory, this business is kind of a dream: I get to teach (win), I get to teach music (win), I get to have a classroom (yay!), I get to bring my kids with me to work and involve them (bonus!), and I get to work for MYSELF, make my own hours, be my own boss.  Little did I know, however, that the hours would be LOOOONG, I am a tough guy to work for, and my poor kids would be put through the longest, most boring summer of their short little lives as I try to get myself off the ground.

A lot of hours have been spent in unexpected places: social networking, advertising, development-permitting myself (silly town and their bylaws).  A lot of hours on the computer while faces need to be cleaned, tummies need to be filled, brains need to be stimulated and lovies need to be had.  A lot of “mommy’s busy”….”not right now”….”find something to do”…and a lot of “I’m boooored”….”You never play with me”….”Can we just go to the park?”  The world of being a mom starting up a small business is a complicated one as we try to do a good job at everything (which I think women are notorious for), adding one more thing to our already-full plates.  And that “one more thing” actually happens to be a list a mile long of hundreds of other things.  And so, I have taken business calls with a crying child on my hip, I have put loads of laundry though between emails, I have run dozens of work-related errands on either end of picking my little one up from preschool.

I do believe that women – whether you work full time with kids in care, work part time, don’t work outside the home at all or some mix of all three – have a very big position to fill, and I think we do a really damn good job of it all.  Once we are blessed with our children, our lives are never even remotely the same again in terms of our independence, our job, our identity.  If you work outside the home, you are always thinking forward or backward to those hours with the family: what’s for dinner, how is Will doing at school, will Sam sleep better tonight, how can I help with homework, when can I do the laundry, who will pick the kids up…it goes on and on and on.  If you are stay-at-home, you think of all of the above without any break, literally, even for that beloved bathroom time.  You don’t have anything to think about EXCEPT what’s going on with the family, and that can be so all-encompassing at times it feels suffocating and debilitating.  And if you are at home starting up a business, you are nurturing your work and your babies, often one at the expense of the other.  Whichever way you paint the picture, women are busy, hard working multi-taskers.

I could write all night about the challenges of being a woman AND climbing any ladder, whether it be corporate, or small time.  I could talk at length about double duty, dual expectations and gender roles, but all it comes down to for me, really, is that our small little family is changing as I chase my dream of “having it all”.  Down the road I believe we will all be better off for it with more time for snuggles, the freedom to enjoy more family time and an appreciation for each other and our hard work.  My kids will know that I worked hard to be able to be there for them, to keep ahold of what is important to me, and to find the right balance for our family.  But right now…”FLEDGLING companies are like sticky-fingered toddlers. You’ve got to watch them every single minute”…and when you already have a couple sticky-fingered toddlers, life can be crazy.

Please check out This Little Parent Stayed Home, “on a mission to help parents work from home”, if you are a parent trying to work from home to be there with your kids.  Wonderful support and resources are available!

Thanks for reading my rambling thoughts on this Thursday!  Please leave me yours!



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Amber Robinson (403) 852-5837
Margaret A. Powers

Educator - Director of STEAM Innovation - Consultant

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