As of today I’m officially on holidays for a week. I know, super exciting. About six weeks ago I realised what a ridiculously busy June I had scheduled, so I decided I’d take a full week off from all of my clients and contracts this week. And now it’s finally here! Whoop!
Considering I haven’t ever taken a proper break from from all aspects of my business in the 20 months I’ve been running it, I definitely felt it was time to do so. To be honest, the past 10 months or so have actually been quite challenging for me in terms of finding balance, and my own wellbeing has seriously suffered. But that’s another post for another day. For now, let’s just say, I needed a break!
So back to my week of holidays.
It’s interesting really. I’m not going anywhere, so for me, it actually feels like it’s not a ‘real’ holiday. To me a holiday necessitates lounging by a resort pool with a fruity cocktail. But finances wouldn’t allow that this week, and hubby has to work, so we really couldn’t even go anywhere local for the week. So it has been really challenging for me, leading into this week. I’m home, I’m 10 minutes from the Pilates studio where I work. I’m no more than 10 metres from my laptop at any time in this house. Can I really take a “holiday” at home? Should I?
Even up until Thursday I was driving into the clinic thinking to myself, “Oh I guess I could just take an hour each day to respond to emails, phone calls and Facebook…” Really, Sarah? Come on!
I remember a time, way back when I was working in a government desk job I hated, when a colleague actually did ring me on my holidays to ask me some inane question about work. You wouldn’t believe how stroppy I got and how much I silently seethed to myself while answering their stupid question. “Seriously, couldn’t they figure this out for themselves, I’m on leave dammit!”
Fast forward to now, a ‘mere’ 14 years later – and I can barely let go of my laptop!
Maybe it’s a sign of the times? We’re all so much more accessible now, emails on our smartphones, Facebook on our iPad. We have 24 hour access to everything and everyone, and somehow that translates to the thought that we should be available 24 hours ourselves.
Or maybe it’s because I run my own business now? No longer are those questions inane and something someone else should and could figure out. In my business, I’m it. Sole trader. Just me. Alone. Solo. If I don’t do the work, answer the calls, return to emails, no-one will. So yeah, that definitely makes it harder to be on leave.
But be on leave I must. Because I do need a break, and I do need some extra time with my girls and my hubby. Something that was reinforced to me even more on Friday.
Like so many South Australians I was shocked to wake on Friday morning to the news of Adelaide Crows coach Phil Walsh being murdered, allegedly by his son, overnight. As a dedicated Crows fan since their inaugural season, it’s something that hit home, as it has for footy fans all across the nation. Even though I didn’t know Phil at all, and he’d only been with our club for a short time, I was surprised by how much this death impacted me.
But more than his high profile role as the Crows coach, I think it was the nature of the death that stopped me in my tracks. A son killing his own father? It seems so incomprehensible.
I was chatting to my brother about it later that day, and we both spoke of how shocking it was, to which my brother said, “But I suppose this kind of thing happens every day, we just don’t hear about it unless it happens to someone in the spotlight.” And it’s true. People die at the hands of loved ones every single day. The tally of domestic violence victims who have lost their life is now up to 49 in Australia – 49 – thats almost two women each week so far this year. It’s horrific and tragic, and all those terrible adjectives we so desperately wish never to use.
I think there’s something about intra-family violence that strikes at our very core. Because our home, with our family, is the one place we should all be able to feel unconditionally safe. We should never have to be afraid of our son, our husband, our father, our mother, our sister. These people are supposed to protect us. Not harm us. So when we hear of it happening, it’s simply unfathomable, and it makes us hold our own family a little tighter.
Which brings me back to Friday. After running a bunch of errands that morning, choking back tears each time I heard the Phil Walsh updates on the radio news, something happened.
I was driving past the Adelaide Aquatic Centre, where there’s a big playground we’ve never been to, but which we always say looks amazing, and that we “should go there some day”, when my big Possum from the back seat said “Mum, there’s that playground, can we go there today?”
Any other day I might have said no. We’d already been out all morning. Moochie was due for her sleep. It was a bit chilly. There were plenty of chores to do at home.
But none of that mattered. Not that day. So I checked my mirrors and pulled across three lanes to make the turn into the playground. And of course, the girls had a blast. This playground truly was amazing. So much to explore, and so much fun to be had. And for some reason, I decided to try out the slow motion camera on my phone, which I’d never used before.
And what I captured truly made me think, and was the final reminder I needed that I truly did need to take a break.
Check out this video.
And this one.
You might have noticed that I rarely share images of my children, and I do that purposely, because I want to protect their privacy. But I just had to share this.
Do you see it. Do you see the joy? The excitement? The happiness in those carefree faces.
Those original clips were about three seconds each. It’s easy to miss all of that in three seconds.
I’ll share this too. When we slowed down enough to visit the Zoo yesterday, we were lucky enough to find prism rainbows covering my little Possum’s face. More slow motion joy.
It was while watching these slow motion clips that I realised – I don’t slow down often enough to appreciate these teeny moments of pure happiness. I used to. Back in the first couple of years of motherhood. Back in my maternity leave days (which I honestly miss so much!) I had all the time in the world with my girls and I made the most of it. We were always out for walks, going to the park, meeting friends for babycinos, visiting the petting farm, splashing in the pool at the resort near where we lived. It was truly a blessed time. Even when I was working part time after my first bubba was born – my spare time was my own. Once I got home from work, that was it, my time was my own – our own.
But now, it’s different. For better or worse, I don’t know yet. I wouldn’t give up the opportunity to run my own business for anything. Because I love what I do, and I know it’s going to pay dividends in years to come in regard to work-life balance. But I also know I need to find that better balance right now too. For my own health and for my relationship with my daughters. Because as a small business owner there’s a very real possibility of becoming completely consumed with your business and having it permeate all areas of your life. And that’s not healthy on any level.
With all the events of this past weekend, the main message I’ve received is that I really do need to live life in slow motion sometimes. I need to slow down, appreciate where I am and who I’m with, and not be running a million miles an hour into something else all the time.
So that’s why I’m on leave this week. I’ll be off Facebook and off email, I’ll be hanging with my girls at the park and ordering babycinos at the cafe. I may even get myself a hot stone massage. Now that’s my kind of slow motion.
See you next week!
Psst. Wanna be a Mumpreneur? Want to live the ultimate lifestyle and work on your own terms? Want to set your own flexible hours so you create your business around your kids and never miss another Book Week parade or Sports Day? Yeah, I know you do. We all do.
And it’s so tempting right? It’s so tempting to tell your crappy, insensitive boss to “Shove it! I’m outta here and I’m going to open my own business!”
Yeah, go sister! Woman power! Mums can do anything!! Whooohooo!
But hold on a sec there honey. Do you really know what you’re getting yourself in for? Do you really understand what it means to be a woman, who also has children, who also happens to run her own business from the kitchen table? (and who may or may not also have to hold down a regular “dayjob” while she gets this Mumpreneur thing off the ground). By the way – I’m not a huge fan of the word “Mumpreneur – but I’m using it here because “woman, who also has children, who also happens to run her own business from the kitchen table” doesn’t quite have the same SEO ranking. (And don’t worry, if you don’t yet know what SEO is, you will soon!)
I’m not saying don’t do it. Don’t become a “Mumpreneur”. I can’t say that, because I’m doing it right now – and you know what – it is great. And I can see amazing things on the road ahead. But right now. About 12 months into my self-employed sojourn. It’s freaking hard. And it’s an awful lot of work. And it’s costing money. And, and, and – so much else.
Mumpreneur in action. Yes, this is what action looks like sometimes.
In these past 12 months I’ve learned a thing or two about running my own business while simultaneously raising two daughters, running a household and, yes, holding down another part time job to ensure we can still pay the mortgage! So I thought I’d do you a favour and list a few very important questions you should ask yourself if you’re thinking of making this big scary, crazy, amazing leap into Mumpreneur-dom.
Question 1: Is my significant other on board?
Because if he (or she) isn’t, strap yourself in for some drama. Cue arguments about “getting a real job” and “stuffing around on facebook isn’t going to make any money” and “no, we’re not spending $6K on a business coach”. Starting a business is a crazy tough slog, it’s no surprise so many start up businesses fail. If you’re serious about starting a business it’s going to take time, money and sacrifice. You’re going to need the support of your partner, because you’re going to need them to pick up the slack around the house. You’re going to need them to be okay with the fact that they’re doing the dishes for the sixth night in a row because you’re tapping away on the laptop trying to figure out how to install a WordPress theme to your blog. You’re going to need them to be okay with the fact that you won’t have as much time for them anymore – at least not right now. Get them on board early. Explain your passion. Share your plans and goals. Keep them involved. And hopefully they’ll be supportive.
Question 2: Am I prepared to resent my children at times.
Gah! Yes. I did just ask this question. Please stop calling me names.
This is the dirty little secret of Mumpreneur-ship. Because as much as you love your precious little cherubs and think to yourself, “I’m creating this new business for them, for us, to create our dream family life”. I absolutely guarantee that you are going to resent the socks off of them at least once while creating your new business (probably more than once, to be perfectly honest). Perhaps it’ll be the night before your big launch/meeting/presentation – when your teething baby keeps you up all night. Or the day you miss an all-important webinar because you’re cleaning blue paint-coloured poop off the carpet at the exact moment it goes live. (True story, not mine, thankfully!!)
The fact is that young children and start-up businesses don’t mesh nicely. They’re both unpredictable, time consuming, and, yes, frustrating. When you’re starting a business there are going to be days when you simply need to “GET STUFF DONE” no matter what. But guess what, you can’t always rely on your children to be perfect angels on those days. Even if you have childcare and supportive family, you’re still going to have to find time to do work at home – and the kidlets under your feet are going to get in the way. There are going to be days when you want to spend more time on your business than you do on your kids. You will feel like this. And you will feel guilty for feeling like this. Are you prepared for that?
Question 3: Am I prepared for the haters, the trolls and the poppy-loppers?
Not everyone is going to think your business is a great idea. Lots of them will try to dissuade you – “Don’t you know how bad the economy is, why on earth would you start a business now?” The thing is, these peeps are generally well meaning, they honestly just want you to be safe and secure, and not broke and homeless. They just have a completely different mindset and view of life than you. So they’re not as bad as the haters, the ones who will try to tear you down any opportunity they can. Why do they do it? Mostly they’re jealous. Maybe they want the kind of life and business you’re working towards. Maybe they just don’t have the guts to take that leap of faith. That makes them feel shit. So they take it out on you. #hatersgonnahate
Question 4: Am I prepared to replace most of my friendship group with another one entirely?
The truth is, I now spend way, WAY more time with my new business gals (who I didn’t even know a year ago) than I do the best friends I’ve had for 20 years. Starting your own business can be seriously isolating. Not a lot of people do it, and it’s scary and intense and there’s sooooo much to learn. So we business chicks have to stick together – we seek others out so we can network, learn, brainstorm and absorb business advice by osmosis. Most new Mumpreneurs figure that out pretty quickly and start surrounding themselves with other business minded folk. This isn’t to say that you won’t, or can’t, ever see your friends again, but just beware that friendships are likely to change. See question 1 and 3 for prime examples! Plus, because of all the extra work hours you’re putting in – it can often be quite hard to find time for all your friends – you’ll start prioritising them. Sad but true. The good news is, the ones who are really, truly your friends. They’ll stick around. They’ll stand by you. They’ll understand when you haven’t spoken for them for the past two months. Because that’s what TRUE friends do. (ps, for the record, I still love my old friends even if we don’t get to see each other as often – you know who you are!)
Question 5: Am I in it for passion or profit?
Really you need to be in it for both. If you’re not passionate about the business you’re trying to build, you’re simply not going to have the motivation to stick with it.
But you also need to want to make money. Which means you physically need an income stream – ie. you have to have something to sell!
But you also need to believe that you’re worth the money, that you deserve to make money and that your product is valuable enough for people to pay you for it. So really, you need three things: Passion. Profit. And a passion FOR profit.
Question 6: Am I ready to be transformed?
This is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT question of them all.
“Am I ready for a complete soul makeover?”
This is what you don’t think about when you’re first starting out. You just think to yourself, “Oh I’ve got a cool idea for a business, let’s start a blog and make some money”. You never think to yourself, “Gee, I feel like undergoing a complete and utter transformation of my personal and professional development, my mind, heart, body and soul, my view on the world, my belief in the concept of abundance and laws of attraction, my self-concept of who I am as a person and what my true calling and purpose in life are.”
No-one ever thinks that.
But that’s what happens. I’ve met so many amazing entrepreneurial women over the past year while I’ve been building my business. And while they come from all different walks of life, run completely different businesses and are at a million different stages of business growth and development – they all have one thing in common. Change. They’ve all undergone somewhat of a transformation. Some to the point where they barely recognise themselves from the person they once were. Some to the point where they’ve realised that they need to leave their husband because they’re not willing to put up with a sub-par relationship anymore. Some to the point where they’ve lost friendships because their old friends either “don’t get them” anymore, or got too shitty that they weren’t available for Friday night drinks every week anymore.
Are you willing to go there? Are you willing to make that much of a change. Are you willing to be utterly and absolutely transformed. Are you prepared to barely recognised the person you’ll be in 12 months time?
Then welcome to the club.