What’s the deal: Do Babies and Business Not Mix?

There’s a crazy philosophy out there…

that claims we are right on the heels of achieving the ever-elusive balance between our work as women and our work as mothers, if we just figure out how to “get it right”. If our passion includes more than the joys and challenges of motherhood, there’s a constant pressure to measure the time we spend pursuing our passions against the time we spend with our children. Let’s be clear; ALL mothers are working mothers, and that’s a fact! But for those of us who, either by choice or circumstance, decide to embrace the additional challenges of pursuing a career—particularly those of us who are self-employed—the pressure gauge constantly lingers near the popping point. The Execumama lifestyle, though filled with rewards and reasons to be grateful, is also not for the Wuss Puss types. Singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur, Kandi Burruss (formerly of the R & B music group, Xscape, and more recently of the controversial Real Housewives of Atlanta series), echoes the sentiment of many Execumamas, married and single alike, the world over, in her recent vlog post for HelloBeautiful.

“How are you supposed to handle your business and continue to be successful without taking away from the quality time and all that you’re supposed to give to your child?”

I’m sure fathers have a degree of that same pressure too, especially with the alarming statistics that show single fatherhood numbers doubling since 1980 to nearly 1.6 million in 2007, and up to 2.5 million in 2006, according to a Families and Living Arrangements study released by the U.S. Census Bureau!

Kandi mentioned the issue of being a single mother, and being raised by one and being the oldest child, I have some idea of what that’s like. I’m not a single mom, and my husband, Kris, is an involved father who cooks dinner most nights, pays attention to his daughters, and is usually responsive to my requests for help around the house. Even in this two-parent household, we still find ourselves challenged with the concerns of time and energy for our children and our businesses.

Kris and I are both self-employed and each of us runs our own business in addition to helping each other with our various projects. He’s Execumama Enterprises’ PR, Design, and Branding team all by himself, and I write copy for some of Voz Visual’s clients as well as helping with the administrative tasks. But before and above all that is the honor of being guides to our 6 and 4 year old gifts from Creator, and keeping them first, while growing our businesses takes a deliberate and consistent effort.  Add to that, the recent NY Times piece about Parenting While Plugged In, an article exploring the so-called “ill effects” of parents addicted to their laptops and smart phones, and both mothers and fathers in this particular era of self-employment and social media as a networking tool can certainly feel our Guilt-o-meters buzzing out of control.  At home, we have a note we pasted in our bathroom last year, and it’s a necessary note:

“We consistently honor our daughters with our time.”

The simple, but in our eyes, powerful words for that note came to us through a meditative session purposed specifically for the issue of time. That’s the point of it all, anyway; being consistent and allotting time. I’ve released the concept of “balance” a long time ago, and for our family, it has saved Kris and me from covering ourselves in the blanket of guilt that often accompanies the Execumama and Execudad lifestyles. Here are some pieces of insight straight from our Everyday Amazing Entrepreneurship & Parenting tank:

Some Rules from the Execumama Lifestyle Handbook

Release the Myth of Balance.

Your choice to become an entrepreneur must carry with it a certain level of flexibility. This means, the traditional idea of working a 9 to 5, and spending a few solid hours per weekday, plus the majority of your weekends “making up lost time” with your children does not apply to you. Instead of working around your children’s waking hours, create a lifestyle that fits your family’s flow.
– If you work primarily from home, decide on family activities before the week starts, then fit them in when time permits.
– Look into weekly community calendars so you can jot down the days and times of the activities your children may enjoy, and stick the weekly note on the fridge. Then, on a day when a client cancels, or you can make time between meetings, grab the kiddos and go enjoy the life you’ve created.

Never, EVER tell your children about a scheduled activity too far in advance.

Booked a weekend in Callaway Gardens to hang with your daughters? Great, but don’t you make the mistake of telling them two weeks beforehand, lest that freelance assignment comes through and has you holed up somewhere with a laptop and a Red Bull for days on end. Instead wait until you’re a couple days away from the planned event, thereby minimizing the opportunities for disappointment, then spill the beans and brace yourself for the bumrush of hugs that let you know you’re doing something right.

Don’t Bench Your Key Players.

Remember, being able to provide for your babies and yourself are a part of the motivation to build your own source of wealth. Also, don’t forget the value of the “while I build” lessons. What better way to impart lessons of entrepreneurial know-how than to include your children whenever you can. When I’m scouting venues for my workshops, or décor shopping for an event, I turn it into an activity with the girls, arming them with notebooks, checklists, and even rewarding them financially when they help Mommy organize the steps leading up to her event.

Overall, inclusion is key, along with consistent reminders to yourself that unless you have a complete disregard for your children’s feelings or well-being, you probably need to be working with a GWZ mentality. The cornerstones of the Guilt-free Woman’s Zone (GWZ) are the third and fifth mantras from the Execumama Pocketguide:

My goal is NOT to create the perfect balance. In fact, one of the marvelous aspects of what I do is found in my ability to effectively manage the inevitable imbalances that come with the work/life path.

AND

Guilt does not exist until and unless I create and assign it. Armed with that knowledge. I choose to be guilt-free, self assured, and reassured by my unfaltering commitment to my family and my SELF!

Now, while we all have our Do-I-Suck-As-a-Parent moments (I’ve been there, for sure!), let’s remember that her beautiful daughter’s inability to fully comprehend the scope of her mother’s work, is a natural reaction. In time, with Kandi’s consistent commitment to her daughter, coupled with an understanding that children will tend to feel neglected throughout their lives, for various reasons, often despite a parent’s best efforts (holler if you hear me on that one!), Riley will likely come to understand that her amazing mother is pursuing her dreams, which includes nurturing and sustaining a healthy, loving relationship with her daughter.

  • Ohhh Akilah, how did you know I need this right now?! I am trying very hard to operate within a GWZ, but some days it’s VERY hard. This one is right on time, especially as I get ready to ramp things up A LOT. I would add also to remove the guilt you feel when you need a break from both your babies and your business – still working on that one!

    • Great addition, Lisa! You are so right! Sometimes we need a break from it ALL, and there’s nothing wrong with embracing that too. Meditation and prayer are my keys to making a clean break when needed! Oh, and wine…um, and brownies 🙂

  • Ohhh Akilah, how did you know I need this right now?! I am trying very hard to operate within a GWZ, but some days it's VERY hard. This one is right on time, especially as I get ready to ramp things up A LOT. I would add also to remove the guilt you feel when you need a break from both your babies and your business – still working on that one!

  • Love this!

    When I became a mother I read lots of articles on work-life balance, but it just never worked for me. Then, one day I realized that balance is not what I needed. I have never had a “balanced” life and that is why I love it so much. I need flexibility and passion. This is when I thrive. And my family and work benefit because last-minute changes doesn’t turn me into “crazy office lady” or “mean mommy”. Instead I can be the “fun person to be around that gets stuff done.” No guilt here!

    • “Flexibility and passion!” Towanda that is THE truth! That is why I can’t see myself going back to working for someone unless it’s totally on my terms, which is somewhat of an oxymoron!! Viva el GWZ!! Thanks for your comment!

  • Love this!

    When I became a mother I read lots of articles on work-life balance, but it just never worked for me. Then, one day I realized that balance is not what I needed. I have never had a “balanced” life and that is why I love it so much. I need flexibility and passion. This is when I thrive. And my family and work benefit because last-minute changes doesn't turn me into “crazy office lady” or “mean mommy”. Instead I can be the “fun person to be around that gets stuff done.” No guilt here!

  • You. Better. Tell. It.
    I adore this post, and you know why (for personal reasons I won’t get into here). What I most appreciate is your encouragement to ENJOY THE LIFE WE’VE BUILT AS ENTREPRENEURS. No, it won’t be perfect. And there will be times where it seems we’re stuck so deep in the work that our kids don’t seem to get the time they deserve. But I’ve been on the dark side—working for someone else and being slave to THEIR schedules—and I often have to remind not only myself but my children that the life my husband and I have created affords them much more time with and attention to them than we ever had for them in our 9 to 5s. Thanks for this reminder, Akilah. You’re a rock.

    • Yes indeed, “the dark side” is exactly what it is, and when we’re in that mode, even the time we have with our children is scanty because we are so frazzled from being party to the growth of someone else’s dream. No, ma’am, I’d rather continue to nurture MY life on MY terms with MY family in tow. You are a wonderful example of Execumama life done right. I’ve seen your work, and been around your family, and honey….it’s a beautiful thing!

  • You. Better. Tell. It.
    I adore this post, and you know why (for personal reasons I won't get into here). What I most appreciate is your encouragement to ENJOY THE LIFE WE'VE BUILT AS ENTREPRENEURS. No, it won't be perfect. And there will be times where it seems we're stuck so deep in the work that our kids don't seem to get the time they deserve. But I've been on the dark side—working for someone else and being slave to THEIR schedules—and I often have to remind not only myself but my children that the life my husband and I have created affords them much more time with and attention to them than we ever had for them in our 9 to 5s. Thanks for this reminder, Akilah. You're a rock.

  • kiyah

    Ohhh that story was RIGHT on point. I’m not a business owner, but I still understand the struggle. Being a single parent is hard. Being a working single parent is even harder so there does come a point in time where we must talk with our kids about whats going on and how we will do our best to give them our best.

    • Exactly, Kiyah! You make a great point with the element of talking to your kids. So often, we think they’re oblivious to what’s going on, or they’re too young to get in, when in reality, they can handle age-appropriate discussions about why mommy can’t play go fish one more doggone time today, or why mommy will NOT be reading a story tonight. I’m learning to release the guilt by remaining present in each moment. It’s the little stuff, like not taking my Blackberry into the room on the night s that I do read the girls a story (shameful, right?), and focusing on only a few tasks at a time, instead of trying to juggle everything at once.

  • kiyah

    Ohhh that story was RIGHT on point. I'm not a business owner, but I still understand the struggle. Being a single parent is hard. Being a working single parent is even harder so there does come a point in time where we must talk with our kids about whats going on and how we will do our best to give them our best.

  • Arlice Nichole

    Akilah, your tips are awesome!

    I have plenty of guilty moments when it comes to parenting and trying to get myself where I would like to be, but I also make good use of my virtual “Be Back Soon” sign. Now that school is out for the summer, my breaks involve activities with the kids. It makes for a really long work day for me, lots of times going into the wee hours of the morning. And, I’m doing a lot of writing on the weekends as well. I think my “Active Mind & Body” vitamins help out a lot. LOL.

    It could happen…it has happened, but I honestly don’t think my kids will be messed up because I have a strong work ethic. I WANT them to take note of mommy’s work ethic actually. I think what helps me is that I, too, have a husband who loves to burn, and thinks he can clean better than me. There is no perfect balance. I don’t think there ever will be. But I do think the that depends on the family. What might be the perfect balance for one entrepreneurial family may not be for another.

  • Arlice Nichole

    Akilah, your tips are awesome!

    I have plenty of guilty moments when it comes to parenting and trying to get myself where I would like to be, but I also make good use of my virtual “Be Back Soon” sign. Now that school is out for the summer, my breaks involve activities with the kids. It makes for a really long work day for me, lots of times going into the wee hours of the morning. And, I'm doing a lot of writing on the weekends as well. I think my “Active Mind & Body” vitamins help out a lot. LOL.

    It could happen…it has happened, but I honestly don't think my kids will be messed up because I have a strong work ethic. I WANT them to take note of mommy's work ethic actually. I think what helps me is that I, too, have a husband who loves to burn, and thinks he can clean better than me. There is no perfect balance. I don't think there ever will be. But I do think the that depends on the family. What might be the perfect balance for one entrepreneurial family may not be for another.

  • Great addition, Lisa! You are so right! Sometimes we need a break from it ALL, and there's nothing wrong with embracing that too. Meditation and prayer are my keys to making a clean break when needed! Oh, and wine…um, and brownies 🙂

  • “Flexibility and passion!” Towanda that is THE truth! That is why I can't see myself going back to working for someone unless it's totally on my terms, which is somewhat of an oxymoron!! Viva el GWZ!! Thanks for your comment!

  • Yes indeed, “the dark side” is exactly what it is, and when we're in that mode, even the time we have with our children is scanty because we are so frazzled from being party to the growth of someone else's dream. No, ma'am, I'd rather continue to nurture MY life on MY terms with MY family in tow. You are a wonderful example of Execumama life done right. I've seen your work, and been around your family, and honey….it's a beautiful thing!

  • Exactly, Kiyah! You make a great point with the element of talking to your kids. So often, we think they're oblivious to what's going on, or they're too young to get in, when in reality, they can handle age-appropriate discussions about why mommy can't play go fish one more doggone time today, or why mommy will NOT be reading a story tonight. I'm learning to release the guilt by remaining present in each moment. It's the little stuff, like not taking my Blackberry into the room on the night s that I do read the girls a story (shameful, right?), and focusing on only a few tasks at a time, instead of trying to juggle everything at once.

  • Arlice Nichole

    Akilah, your tips are awesome!

    I have plenty of guilty moments when it comes to parenting and trying to get myself where I would like to be, but I also make good use of my virtual “Be Back Soon” sign. Now that school is out for the summer, my breaks involve activities with the kids. It makes for a really long work day for me, lots of times going into the wee hours of the morning. And, I'm doing a lot of writing on the weekends as well. I think my “Active Mind & Body” vitamins help out a lot. LOL.

    It could happen…it has happened, but I honestly don't think my kids will be messed up because I have a strong work ethic. I WANT them to take note of mommy's work ethic actually. I think what helps me is that I, too, have a husband who loves to burn, and thinks he can clean better than me. There is no perfect balance. I don't think there ever will be. But I do think the that depends on the family. What might be the perfect balance for one entrepreneurial family may not be for another.

  • Great addition, Lisa! You are so right! Sometimes we need a break from it ALL, and there's nothing wrong with embracing that too. Meditation and prayer are my keys to making a clean break when needed! Oh, and wine…um, and brownies 🙂

  • “Flexibility and passion!” Towanda that is THE truth! That is why I can't see myself going back to working for someone unless it's totally on my terms, which is somewhat of an oxymoron!! Viva el GWZ!! Thanks for your comment!

  • Yes indeed, “the dark side” is exactly what it is, and when we're in that mode, even the time we have with our children is scanty because we are so frazzled from being party to the growth of someone else's dream. No, ma'am, I'd rather continue to nurture MY life on MY terms with MY family in tow. You are a wonderful example of Execumama life done right. I've seen your work, and been around your family, and honey….it's a beautiful thing!

  • Exactly, Kiyah! You make a great point with the element of talking to your kids. So often, we think they're oblivious to what's going on, or they're too young to get in, when in reality, they can handle age-appropriate discussions about why mommy can't play go fish one more doggone time today, or why mommy will NOT be reading a story tonight. I'm learning to release the guilt by remaining present in each moment. It's the little stuff, like not taking my Blackberry into the room on the night s that I do read the girls a story (shameful, right?), and focusing on only a few tasks at a time, instead of trying to juggle everything at once.

  • Nicole_D

    Akilah,

    I’m a new mom (10 weeks now) in the DC area. I do engineering work, but it’s not my passion and I would prefer to have the flexibility of working from home doing something I love while being able to spend time with my daughter. Can you offer me any tips on how to transition to work-from-home career/ lifestyle doing freelance writing and copy editing (Please, include how to get these type of assignments and what to charge)? And what do you and your husband do for healthcare?

    Thanks So Much,
    Nicole

  • Nicole_D

    Akilah,

    I'm a new mom (10 weeks now) in the DC area. I do engineering work, but it's not my passion and I would prefer to have the flexibility of working from home doing something I love while being able to spend time with my daughter. Can you offer me any tips on how to transition to work-from-home career/ lifestyle doing freelance writing and copy editing (Please, include how to get these type of assignments and what to charge)? And what do you and your husband do for healthcare?

    Thanks So Much,
    Nicole