For the majority of moms that start businesses, the driving force behind making it happen is freedom. We crave flexible schedules, not having to apologize for having a sick child, and being able to spend quality time with our family.
But juggling motherhood and growing a business is hard. We end up trying to cram everything into our days, dealing with giant to-do lists, and a heaping dose of business or mom guilt, depending on the moment.
The end result? We’re tired, stressed, and burned out as we try to do it all. Even worse, something always suffers. It may be relationship, your self-care, or even your business as you trying to jam it in the nooks and crannies of your packed mama schedule.
So, how does a busy mama ditch the guilt and create a plan that lets you make the most of your 24 hours in a day?
Kiss the Concept of Balance Goodbye
Start by letting the concept of balance go. The work/life balance mantra only serves to make most mamas feel bad. Balance is treated as this state of complete calm and control, achieved effortlessly.
The truth is, that as mamas and business owners, we’re engaged in an extreme sport that’s not for the faint of heart. And balancing requires being 100% present and focused in that moment. I find that I’m never working harder than when I’m in balance – because just like if I’m balancing on one foot, I’m constantly adjusting to make sure I don’t fall.
Instead of balance, go for flow
When you strive for flow, you can create a rhythm to your life and days that doesn’t make you feel bad about anything. Some days that means more family time, and others that may mean time for self-care or working on a big project in your business. Flow lets you figure out the priorities and go with it instead of trying to live up to someone else’s idea of how you should be spending your time.
Get Clear on Your Big Rocks
The term “big rocks” comes from a story that’s shared in Stephen Covey’s Book, First Things First, about how a teacher used a jar to show how if you fill it up with water, sand or pebbles (the metaphorical small stuff of life) first, you don’t have room for the big rocks (a.k.a. ‘the most important things’ – health, family, friends, personal growth, career, etc.).
The idea is that you need to put your big rocks in first and let the other things fill in around them. If you’ve ever struggled to build real momentum in your business, chances are there isn’t enough solid time dedicated to those big rocks. Instead, your weeks are filled with sand and pebbly tasks like emails, social media, or administrative tasks.
Your big rocks will be different at different times, but unless you’re very intentional about them, they aren’t likely going to happen.
For a lot of moms, their business is important to them but they don’t treat it like a big rock so it’s always last on the list. They don’t have dedicated time to work. Or maybe they don’t have enough support with the other areas of their life (ahem – laundry?). And for your business to actually succeed, you may need to give it more time or space to happen.
Another big one that can easily get overlooked is self-care. You need to take care of yourself first because if you’re stressed out, unhealthy and falling apart, you’re not going to be able to take care of anyone else. It may be making time for a lunch date, or a massage, or even a quick walk by yourself. Radical self-care can work wonders in your life and your business if you turn it into one of your big rocks.
Create Your Model Calendar
This is where the rubber meets the road, because to find flow and prioritize those big rocks, you need a plan, otherwise you’ll find yourself caught up in the million zillion things you need to do.
Meet the model calendar, the busy mama’s BFF.
Not convinced? You’ve got a choice. You can live by design or your can live by default. When you’re living by design, each day has purpose. When you’re living by default, you’re likely always putting out fires and struggling to make it all happen.
The model calendar gives you a starting point for creating a week with time and space for the things that matter from spending time with your family, to working on your business, to things like date night, self-care and volunteer work.
Here’s how to get started:
- Grab a weekly calendar that’s broken down by hours. Maybe this is a Google Calendar or a paper version. Do what’s easiest and most accessible for you.
- Block out your personal and family time first. It may seem counterintuitive, but when they are taken care of, the rest gets a lot easier.
- Create your office hours. This lets you get intentional about when you’re working and not just trying to squeeze it in whenever you get a second (trust me – you can’t run a business when you’ve only got 15 minutes to yourself each day). Having work hours helps create a healthy boundary for you and family. Plus, your family learns that this is a priority that should be taken seriously.
- Map out your work week. Based on your office hours, start prioritizing how you spend that time. Starting with a CEO date each week so you can create a plan for the week based on what’s most important. From there, break your tasks down using these core categories: marketing, business development, client work, customer service and operations/administration. But these into blocks so you can create forward motion each week. For inspiration, you can check out my model calendar here to see how I keep all my balls in the air with 3 kids under the age of five and a husband who works with me in my business.
Creating a business and a life that you love doesn’t have to be a struggle. With the right plan in place you can create a flow where you focus on your priorities and love the life you’ve created.