Podcast Episode #47: How to be a Mompreneur
Alyssa and Cindy have a thoughtful conversation about what it’s really like to be mother and entrepreneur. Setting realistic expectations and learning to be intentional with your time as a business owner and a mom is important. Listen to see if they have tips for you! You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.
Alyssa: Hello, welcome to Ask the Doulas. I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner and postpartum doula at Gold Coast, and we are talking with Cindy from Cindy’s Suds today.
Cindy: Hey, how are you doing?
Alyssa: Hey! So in our last chat, we started, off the air, talking about our roles as mothers and business owners and how that’s totally different than just being a working mom. Both have their own challenges, but we have our own specific set of challenges as mothers who own our own businesses. So we thought maybe we would extend this conversation and see where it goes. Let’s just talk about all the different hats we have to wear. Our last conversation was about deodorant, and I had mentioned that I don’t have time to shower every day any more. You know, that’s a luxury that I had, first of all, before I had a child, but even after I had my baby, I worked in an office, so I would literally get up half an hour earlier every morning to work out and then to shower. I showered every single day. I shaved every single day.
Cindy: Not so much anymore!
Alyssa: I look back now, and I’m like, why the heck would I waste all that time? Now time is such a luxury. If I can shower every two or three days, that’s good, and I also still hate it. Now, I just feel like I’m wasting time every time I’m standing in the shower.
Cindy: Same, yeah. I feel the exact same way. Because it’s not just the act of showering; then you’ve got to do your hair; you’ve got to dry off; you’ve got to quick put on a little bit of makeup, whereas if you don’t shower you can just kind of fly with yesterday’s leftover makeup. I mean, it’s bad. It’s bad, just the lack of time that we have, and I feel like we’re in a time right now where there are so many women that own their own businesses, which is so fabulous and it’s so wonderful, so I do think that a lot of women can resonate with what we’re talking about. A lot of moms are picking up their businesses that they had this desire to this or that or they’re selling this on the side or that on the side, and I just feel like there’s a lot of moms who are entrepreneurs and business owners as well as being a mom, and to try to get it all in and have time for your work life, your mom life, your marriage life, your home life – it’s just a lot, and I think women are under more stress, being pulled in different directions, than we ever have been throughout history because there’s just so much that needs to be done nowadays. It’s just different.
Alyssa: Yeah, we’re redefining the role. You know, in one of the groups I’m in, the mom brain group, I did a talk about guilt and how we manage guilt as moms, and it turned into everyone having these stories they wanted to tell, but the main thing I wanted to get across was we’re never really going to feel not guilty until we can shift the way we think about our roles.
Cindy: Because I don’t think husbands feel that.
Alyssa: And I said that. I said, how many guys sit around and talk about dad guilt?
Alyssa: None. None. And here we are; we’re guilty because now we own our own businesses and a lot of us work from home, so we feel like we should have all this extra time with our kids, but we feel guilty because instead, our kid’s in the playpen or the bouncy seat next to us and we’re on the computer, on our phones. So until we can shift the way we actually think about our roles as mothers, as wives or partners, and leaders and entrepreneurs, we have to realize that what we’re doing is so awesome, and we are showing our kids that women can do this too, and we are strong and we are capable and we are providing for our families. It’s not just Dad that has to do that. And it’s also realizing that I’m a better mom because of these things that I’m doing for myself.
Cindy: And I think, as with so many things in life, we’re not going to truly realize that until we look back. I feel like hindsight’s 20/20, and when you’re in it, you just feel a lot of mixed emotions. Am I doing enough here? Am I doing enough there? Do they feel my love here? Is my work getting what they need from me here? But I think when we look back, we can give ourselves that nod of approval and go, wow, I did do what I needed to do to make my business run well; to make my family run well; to make my children grow well. But when you’re in the midst of it, it just feels like you’re living in this hurricane disaster all the time, and I feel like I’m treading water all the time because there’s no down time. I hear people sometimes talk about “Oh, what’d you do today? I read a magazine.” I’m like, are you kidding me? You got to read a magazine?
Alyssa: Do you see this stack of magazines right here? This is how old? September of 2017. That’s how long that’s been sitting there. I haven’t had time to read it.
Cindy: My bedside table looks the exact same, so I completely get it. But there’s so many things that we’re trying to juggle in a day that I think if we wrote down or if someone looked at all the things that we did, it’s like we’re living four days in one day. We’re living our life as a business person and managing our business well and customer service and getting this out or that out, and then we’re managing our home life as best as we can, and are we eating together as a family? Do we have all the events covered with our children going back and forth? Am I seeing my spouse? What about my kids; am I doing the activities that my kids need me to do? Am I helping with schoolwork? There are so many things…
Alyssa: Not to mention the house is dusty, and there’s nothing in the refrigerator, and who’s making dinner? It’s non-stop. The to-do list never ends, I feel like. I know that I’ve had to really scale back on the things that I feel like have to be done at home.
Cindy: I have to.
Alyssa: If you walked along my house and did a finger test, you’re probably going to find dust. Five years ago? Never. There’s no way. There never would have been dust; nothing would have been out of order. My bed probably isn’t made.
Cindy: My bed is not made. I will tell you that.
Alyssa: My husband will do it sometimes. But I’ve had to realize that I just have to let go of some things. These things do not need to be done.
Cindy: And they don’t define you as a person, either, you know, and so I think we have to let go of some of those things that aren’t necessarily time-wasters, but when you have more time at home, you’re going to fill them with things that are the nitty-gritty details. When you’re in survival mode like we are with businesses and families and children, you do. You really start focusing on the important things, and you focus on your fires every day. What fires need to be put out today? And the detail things – you know, if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, they just kind of fall to the wayside, but then I think you also kind of shift your focus on the importance and what the important things are in your life, and you realize that having a completely picked-up house with no dust and always vacuumed – that’s not really what’s important to me at this point in my life.
Alyssa: Right. That doesn’t help me be a better mom, and it doesn’t help me be a better business owner.
Cindy: Right. And will your kids remember that? No. They’re not going to. So they’re not going to remember these little things, so don’t let it make you crazy thinking that, gosh, I should have done this or done that. It is not going to matter in the long run, and so little things like that, I think for our sanity’s sake, you just have to let go. Because there’s bigger things out there; way bigger things.
Alyssa: Yeah. And we talked about wearing a lot of hats; you know, we are the business owners, so we are fielding the phone calls and the emails, and we’re also doing the marketing, and we’re also doing the events and the networking and the managing anyone who works for us. It’s like there’s never, ever any downtime. So even when you work from home – especially when you work from home – you never really get to walk away, but even if you work in an office and own your own business, you can kind of turn it off a little bit when you get home, but you never really can because if you get that phone call from that one person, you know you have to answer that. So it’s a little tricky to really turn it off, and I’ve realized that I have – maybe it’s just a time. Like, okay, 8:00 PM, or even earlier than that, because I want to do that before my daughter goes to bed. So maybe it’s 6:00, and then I can turn back on at 8:00 when she goes to bed. But I don’t even bring my cell phone back into that room with me because when I start hearing those rings and vibrations, and I’m like, uh-oh, emails are coming in or texts are coming in, and all of a sudden now I’m sitting there in front of my daughter looking at my phone when I should be focused on her. Those are the things I don’t want her to notice. I don’t want her to remember, Mommy was always on her phone. So I have to be very intentional about leaving it in a completely different room because it is distracting.
Cindy: Yeah, and I think what you just said is so important; the intentionality of making that choice. So you make a choice that your phone does not take precedence over your daughter, and maybe not ever bringing it into the room when you have your bedtime routine or whatever. Those are the things that are going to help us focus on the here and now for what we need to focus on. So bedtime; it’s your daughter, you know? Or while she’s at school or whatever, you’re giving 110% to your job and to running Gold Coast Doulas, and that’s where you’re at. And so it’s really kind of taking these chunks of time that we have throughout the day and dedicating this chunk is for work; this chunk is for home; this chunk is for kids. And we’re doing our best, you know? My husband is also self-employed and so he gets it, and so that kind of is helpful, but on the same token, we’ve got two crazies, then, at home, because we both have our own businesses that we’re running, but at least he gets it. But it’s tough. It’s not easy, but I think just what you said about being intentional, about carving out spaces and time for the important things, and every single day, just kind of take a look at it like this – how am I going to balance today? You can’t really – at least from my perspective, I don’t feel like I can plan out really far because I work best under a day-to-day kind of a guideline. I mean, you’re constantly looking out in the future for work and for kids and family life, but when it boils down to how today is going to look, it’s just that one day, and it’s what’s unfolding today. How can I give my best self today in this area or that area, and how can my children not feel like I’m being pulled in many directions, and when I’m working, how can my work not feel like I’m being pulled in many directions?
Alyssa: That’s one of the things I talked about, too, is really focusing. So when you’re 100% focused on work, you can know that’s done. This is done, so when I turn it off, and then it’s 100% focused on kids. Otherwise if you half-ass it, basically, like if you only give 80% to your work that day, by the time it’s family time, that 20% is still going to be on your mind, and you can’t dedicate 100% to your kids. So it’s really being – and I think again it takes time and it’s almost like exercising your brain to, like, figure out that you can do this, to really be intentional with your time. And then I’ve also learned on the flip side that we get so busy that we forget to take time just for us.
Cindy: That’s a huge thing.
Alyssa: Yeah, because we’re so focused on business and family and household things that I’ve learned that it’s really okay to be selfish.
Cindy: And I think even more so when you own your own business, you have to almost schedule in down time, me-time, because if you don’t, you will burn out. And I’ve been kind of running this rat race too much lately, where I’m like, okay, I need to really schedule down time. So I’ve got a massage on Friday because I know that I’ve been overdoing it and I know I need to just kind of reset that bar for myself because things like that; the half-hour drive will calm me down. I scheduled it for an hour and a half, and this is kind of mean, but I don’t talk during my massage. I love my massage therapist. I’ve been with her for several years. I don’t talk because I need to completely decompress. And she said, “You’re my only client that doesn’t talk.” I’m like, I can’t. I need to just – this needs to be me. So I think it’s really important to, like you said, whether it’s exercise or whether it’s whatever you do to unwind; meditating, getting a massage –
Alyssa: Take a bath by yourself.
Cindy: Take a long shower every… four days.
Alyssa: Four days, yeah. When we have the time, right?
Cindy: When we have the time!
Alyssa: But I mean, it can be sometimes me just sitting down after a long day, after putting my daughter to bed and spending some time with my husband. If I can sit and watch Netflix for 30 minutes –
Cindy: What’s Netflix? What is that? I’m joking.
Alyssa: Oh, my God. You really are busy!
Cindy: But no, I get that.
Alyssa: Just to decompress. And then I shut my brain off; I don’t look at my phone, and I can actually, like, if my eyes start to get drowsy, I’m good. I turn it off, I go to sleep, and I’m good. Otherwise, I can’t shut my brain off.
Cindy: Right, and when you just said that, I have to remind myself all the time: if I see my husband watching Netflix, I get bitter. I’m like, how can you watch TV and I can’t? And he always tells me, “Stop. That laundry will be there tomorrow. Sit down with me. Watch a show.” And for whatever reason, I’m going back to guys: how can they do it all? They turn it off and they make time for TV time, whatever.
Alyssa: We have the same exact conversation, and I’m like, how can you be watching golf again? And I’m muttering to myself, and if I do actually say something out loud, he’ll be like, “Join me. Join me on the sofa. Make yourself a drink. Sit down.” I’m like, “I can’t.” Yes, I can! I totally can!
Cindy: We have this thing where we’ve got to use every single free moment to get stuff done.
Alyssa: Well, I’ve realized I think he really values his own time and his time alone. Must be more than I value mine.
Cindy: Well, I think going back to the fact that men and women are so different: they don’t have that guilt, and they’ve learned to make time for themselves. When they’re burned out, they know what to do. They stop. They watch TV. They zone out. They take a nap. You just don’t find women doing that, or at least no one that I know does that, but I think it’s something that maybe we could even learn from them and learn to give ourselves a little bit of permission to take those breaks.
Alyssa: Absolutely. It’s okay to be selfish. Selfish doesn’t have to be bad. Take time for yourself; and again, it makes you a better mother if you can take care of yourself. So schedule those times. Like, on my calendar today, it says get outside because this is going to be one of the nicest days, but it keeps moving farther and farther down my calendar because more and more stuff comes up. So I think I need to do more things like that, like schedule a massage where I have to be there at 10:00 AM. Because otherwise, stuff always happens during the day.
Cindy: It always, always will happen, and that will be the slot that you erase and pencil somebody else in.
Alyssa: It keeps moving down and it probably won’t happen today.
Cindy: We give because women typically give, but you know, we really have to allow ourselves to just rest, just like what you were saying; you have to have that self-care, but if we don’t, we will end up empty, and an empty mom, empty business owner…
Alyssa: Has nothing to give to either. Well, hopefully that wasn’t too much of a rant!
Cindy: I know, exactly! Just a good reminder!
Alyssa: It’s a good conversation, yes, that you can do it all and you can do it effectively. Just keep an eye on where all – you know, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, whether that’s all family or all business or all yourself. Well, thanks for talking to me, Cindy.
Cindy: Yeah, thanks! Always fun!
Alyssa: Email us if you have any questions for Cindy or me: firstname.lastname@example.org. And Cindy, where can people find you?
Cindy: You can find our all-natural bath and body products at our website. You can also find us locally at Kingma’s and Harvest Health Foods. We’re also scattered in a lot of great boutiques around the Grand Rapids area.
Alyssa: And we will chat with you next time.
Cindy: That sounds great.