This post is a guest post from the lovely Jacqui at Heartfil Marketing.
We’ve all heard the expression “behind every great man there’s a great woman”. The old adage still rings true but it applies equally the other way. A supportive and respectful partnership is the strong foundation on which a business can be built, by either partner. With Joanna on maternity leave I thought I’d share with you some of my thoughts about building and running a business, as a woman, once you have kids. My advice is to not underestimate the role your husband or partner will play.
My eldest son was born twelve years ago and I’ve been a stay-at-home / work-at-home mum ever since.
I always had ideas for making money and tried lots of things. Most of my little projects turned out to be non-starters in terms of successful business ideas but I was full of passion for each and every one of them for as long as they lasted. And so was my husband, which brings me back to the idea of the equal partnership. Since day one he has been completely on-board with the business I am now building (I’m a marketing consultant and creative entrepreneur).
Without his support none of my ideas would have seen the light of day. We share the common goal of wanting to be happy, healthy and prosperous. We are both willing to make sacrifices in order to achieve that goal. He knows that if I’m happy, we’re all happy. For me that means doing meaningful and fulfilling work, making a difference in the world (beyond raising our children).
When I need time to study or work he picks up the slack. He’s aware of my busier times of year. We still tag-team parent. I do the days, he does the evenings. We negotiate weekends as I often work on Sundays and he works most Saturdays. We can’t always take family holidays together and on days off it’s often just one parent taking the kids out. It’s all about compromise. It’s not all work though, we also accommodate each other’s social calendars and fitness regimes.
I have a lot more time now that our kids are both at school but we still coordinate our schedules. With a deep understanding of each other’s work commitments we are respectful of time. And we want to make sure that nothing slips through the cracks.
Our situation is not unique, all families make sacrifices but I think it bears special consideration when mum is self-employed, a freelancer or consultant. I’m grateful that my husband is one of the so-called ‘new-age dads’ who is willing to take on his share. He accepts that even though I work from home I have commitments beyond doing the washing and getting the dinner ready.
Have a plan in place which allows for mum to do her work, whether with the help of dad, relatives or with a paid nanny or babysitter. (I wish we could have afforded a nanny!) It’s helped us to have careful routines and to have set responsibilities. I remember having a somewhat heated discussion over the taking out of the rubbish. Once we decided whose job that was, it was never an issue again.
Build in some flexibility but have your overall business and family priorities firmly in mind. Is it important to keep your business in growth mode? Or can you simply maintain? Does the business rely on you exclusively or can you delegate some tasks? Will the extended family mind if you miss a few get-togethers? Are you expecting home-cooked meals every day? When you both work, something’s got to give.
Whatever you decide to do it’ll be the right decision for you and your family but I can’t stress enough the importance of talking to make sure you’re on the same page.
One last thought, looking back, the best advice I would give to my younger self, as in when my kids were younger, is that there’s no rush. The idea will keep, there will always be other projects, opportunities and clients. It’s an absolute cliché but the early years of childhood are fleeting. Sometimes it’s okay to just spend the afternoon playing in the park with your kids!