What I learned in my first year as a working mom + business owner

first year as a working mom-01

I won’t sugarcoat it: the first year of motherhood was hard. Prior to becoming a mom, my day was about putting out fires. There always seemed to be something going on – shepherding projects through to completion, maintaining a high quality of work, managing a team, selling new business, and so on. Since becoming a mom, my day is about putting out fires and being present for my daughter. It’s a balance between two full time jobs that I’m admittedly still trying to figure out.

This summer has been, quite possibly, the most difficult and exhausting of my life. On top of moving from Southern California into a new home up north, my daughter was hospitalized from COVID on the tail end of a vacation, when I had already been away from work. I was remarkably fortunate that I had a good team in place that knew what to do in my absence. 

As a business owner, you quickly learn that if you don’t have processes in place when you’re out of pocket, things can go wrong in a flash. Last year, when I was preparing to go out on maternity leave, my team and I established a set of processes that informed them of when to reach out to me to make sure nothing was missed, when certain things needed to be escalated, or what to do in various sets of scenarios that empowered them to make executive decisions. That open communication has been so important for us over the years and it’s allowed for me to have the time I need to recuperate. 

Over the course of the last year, as I slowly emerge from the fog (mom brain is a very real thing), I’ve learned a few tricks that may seem tiny to some, but can have a monumental impact if you’re in a situation like mine. These include:

  • At the end of the day, I try to wrap up a few minutes early so I have five minutes to myself to transition my brain and prepare for time with my daughter.
  • I block 30 minutes of time on my calendar while my nanny is still here, or my daughter is at daycare, where I can do something for myself. That might be an at-home workout or simply laying in bed and reading PEOPLE Magazine – whatever it is I need that day.
  • During the day, it can be tempting to take any down time and make it “productive” by catching on emails or cramming in more work in order to catch up. The reality is, the work will always be there…but an opportunity to shower might not be.
  • As a self-employed business owner who has always worked from home, I’ve learned how to create good boundaries between work and my personal life. But, that was before I had a kid, and in the last year, it’s unfortunately something I’ve let slide. In the mornings, rather than being present with my daughter, like I should be, I’ve found myself immediately looking at my phone when I wake up and checking emails. I’ve slowly, but surely, started making a concerted effort to get up and be with my daughter first thing, and only look at my emails when I’m seated at my computer and ready to give them the attention they need.

There’s always been a unique pressure involved with running your own business and the responsibility it entails, but now that I’m raising a child, I feel the added weight of scaling a business and making sure we can provide my daughter with every opportunity I can. I’m not sure that the gravity of being responsible for another human will ever truly subside but mitigating that dual pressure is something I’m conscious of (obviously) and am actively monitoring and working on, for everyone’s sake.

There’s been no shortage of lessons woven into this challenging first year as a mom, but maybe the greatest one I’ve learned is to have some grace with myself. I’ve also learned there is strength in asking for help when you need it. Over the years, I’ve leaned on fellow female business owners in times of need and in turn, have offered my own support. As a working mom, I find this even more important to do. 

If you find yourself in a similar situation and would like someone to talk to, I’d love to hear from you by email at [email protected]. And if you have any tips or tricks that have worked for you, I’m all ears! 

It’s true what they say: being a parent is the hardest job in the world. But it’s also the most rewarding.