Drawing boundaries: tips for mumpreneurs on a healthy work/life balance

Working mum

Let’s get real. Entrepreneurs and the work/life balance haven’t been playing nicely together, and this is especially problematic for entrepreneurs who are also mums, the “mumpreneurs”, if you will. Truth is, the crux of starting a business — major decision making, procurement, planning, strategising, and telling people about what you do — takes a mountain of time.

I am a mother of three children who still know who I am, but maintaining that has taken work. Somewhere along the way, somebody told us mums we could run a household, eat well, sustain good friends, go to the gym, maintain great marriages, raise happy children (including extracurricular activities) AND run a successful business ALL at once. Yet even reading that list is a lot to take, right? Insert deep breath or other coping mechanism here.

When starting a business, you need to put your head down and get it done. When I first started, I rarely got to watch any TV, read a fictional book, or go to sleep before 12 am. I chose instead to dedicate every iota of my time to either my business or my children. The pay-offs were much more gratifying though.

I do have a few tricks up my sleeve.

  1. Find a gym that is open 24 hours. This way, you can be out of there before 6am and home for family. It’s a grind, but it works for me.
  2. Husbands are great at grocery shopping.
  3. Outsource something, even if it is just a couple of hours per week. I started with bookkeeping.
  4. Set device-free time.

It’s also important to get over your friend guilt. Close girlfriends were continually saying things like, “I never see you anymore.” Does this happen to you? I worked out quickly that my family had to be the priority because they were already getting the scraps. Stop saying “let’s catch up” and then panic trying to make time. You can only truly maintain deep, fulfilling relationships with a small group of people anyway.

One final tip: I turned the email function off my phone about 6 months ago. Gasp. Before that, I would be known to routinely wake every night at about 2am and not be able to get back to sleep. I knew replies to some of the projects I was working on would perhaps be in, and it would rouse me. Emails were coming through at all hours. I’d check. Even on family time in the evenings or at breakfast I’d be ‘working’. It meant I was never truly present in the room with anyone. It had to stop. My clients still love me and I’d say have not even noticed.

Disclosure: Don’t let my friends and family read this post. I am a complete workaholic and absolutely love my job. My passion and dedication to my marketing agency is not normal and not balanced at all. But we’re happy.