Work Hard Play Hard is my unofficial family motto.
Growing up with entrepreneurial parents, I watched them working tirelessly to build up businesses from scratch. Working 12 hours a day. Heading into the office nearly every Sunday afternoon to prep for the week ahead.
I also watched them hit complete burnout. And spend their vacations desperately trying to recover from their insanely fast-paced life (and no surprise – even before the invention of cell phones, they were still checking in with the office wherever they were).
You’d think I’d learned from their experience, but no.
After a few years in a highly-competitive consulting career, I burned out my adrenals, started experiencing panic attacks, and realized that the Work Hard Play Hard path wasn’t the way for me.
I wanted to create a life and a living doing something that I loved, but also that allowed me to live in alignment with what was truly important to me.
[clickToTweet tweet=”What if we created a life we didn’t need a vacation from?” quote=”What if we created a life we didn’t need a vacation from?” theme=”style2″]
When I left the fast-paced traditional consulting world, I knew I wanted something different. I wanted real FREEDOM. Freedom to make my own schedule and make time for what mattered most to me.
As an extreme introvert, I desperately needed more downtime for relaxation, reflection, and deep self-care (turns out – your health is one of those things you’ve gotta prioritize!).
As a newlywed (barely a year into our marriage) who was hoping to have kids soon, I knew that the grueling hours weren’t going to allow me to be the mama or wife I wanted to be.
And as a type-A workaholic who could easily grind away 12-16 hour days, those panic attacks helped me to realize that I needed to take my health and well-being seriously.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Want more balance in your life & biz? Make space for what matters!” quote=”Want more balance in your life & biz? Make space for what matters!” theme=”style2″]
Thankfully, you don’t have to sacrifice your health, family, happiness, or spirit to have a successful thriving business and happy family.
And it all starts by understanding the true meaning of BALANCE.
Too often, we find ourselves scrolling through the insta-perfect photos of other mamapreneurs who seem to have it all together. Their homes are Pinterest perfect. Surely their gluten-free vegan dinners are delish. And their fitspo photos? Really – who looks that perfect when you’re supposed to be sweaty?
It’s so easy to forget these photos are just a snapshot, a one-second peek into their lives. And that one-second peek? It’s an illusion of balance.
Balance is a VERB.
Too often we believe that if we just find that one time management trick, we’ll finally break the code to achieving balance. We’ll have the right ratio of work to family to health. And life will magically be happily ever after.
Balance is challenging!
Just the physical act of balancing tells you everything you need to know. Try something as simple as standing on one foot. Many people can’t balance on one foot for long without starting to wobble and reaching for some support!
So what’s the secret to finding some balance
1: Get Clear On What Matters Most, To You
We live in a world of doing #ALLTHETHINGS. Busy is a badge of honor. And for mamapreneurs who are building a business while raising kids? We spend our days glued to the computer followed by the second shift of carpool and dinner and homework.
It’s no wonder OVERWHELM is the #1 complaint of most mamapreneurs I talk too!
When you get clear on what really matters most, TO YOU, suddenly everything shifts.
Priorities are everything. You can Have It All – when you decide what having it all really means to you. Don’t miss this post on Having It All and creating your own definition of success in life & business.
Having It All isn’t about the status symbols. It’s not about the new cars or beach houses. While those are nice – Having It All is really about aligning your life with your values.
You might value spending quality 1×1 time with your kids, going out for a regular date night, or getting a mama retreat every few months to check into a B&B for some quiet time.
When you’re clear about what matters most, it’s much easier to prioritize your calendar so that you are living your values, every single week. My favorite way to live more & work less? Start with a model calendar.
If your week isn’t in alignment with your values, you will always feel out of balance. But when you carve out time for those priorities on a regular basis by building your business around your life, everything changes.
2: Slow. Down.
Seriously. Just SLOW. DOWN.
We live our lives in a constant state of FOMO induced panic that whips everyone, including our kids, into a frenzy. No wonder rates of anxiety are skyrocketing!
The thing about raising kids and growing a business – it doesn’t happen overnight. Once you have a baby, you’re in for the next 18+ years (and according to my mom – really it’s a lifetime)! So why do we expect that our baby businesses are going to grow up overnight?
It’s taken me over 8 years of running my own business to get to this point, where I’m fully supporting my family of 5.
But because I’ve given myself permission to grow slowly, I’ve been able to work at a sustainable 25 hours a week while navigating two high-risk pregnancies and 3 kids ages 6 and under.
Could I have grown my business faster? Yes. No doubt. But I would have sacrificed the precious first years with my kids… and that’s a no go for me.
When my kids look back on these years, they won’t care a bit if I had a seven-figure launch the year they were six… but they will remember the movie nights, the trips to the water park, and the rainy days we spent reading and doing puzzles. That’s why I am more than happy with my business… it’s big enough for me to love every minute of my work and my life.
3: Say NO & Do Less
In a culture of YES – saying NO is revolutionary.
But if you’re getting clear on your priorities, you quickly realize that the trivial things that don’t really matter are eating up all your time and energy.
You’ll never be able to find balance if you’re constantly saying yes to non-essentials!
Nothing has freed up my time and energy more than simplifying every area of my life, home, and business. By learning how to say no and actually do less, we’ve created time for things that really matter.
In my house, saying NO started with our calendars. We knew that if we said YES to multiple activities per kid, I’d be spending 10 hours a week shuttling kids to and from activities. At this stage, they are happier to each have one activity a week and spend the other four afternoons playing outside with their neighborhood friends.
Doing less means that each week, my husband and I have time for a regular date night.
Doing less means that I can happily say yes to my hubby joining a soccer team with the tradeoff that I get Saturday mornings all to myself.
Doing less means that when one of the twins needs a little one-on-one time, we can head over to their favorite restaurant after dance for a mama-kid date.
Juli mommy date!
In my business, saying NO was even more difficult!
It’s so easy to get caught in the mindset that you have to say yes to each and every opportunity that comes your way… but once I started getting clearer on the big priorities and goals for my business, it became easier to decline everything else that distracted myself and my team from that mission.
The biggest catalyst for doing less in my business? Following a 90-Day Plan.
Every 90 Days, my team and I narrow in on only 3-5 major projects. ALL of our energy and resources go into reaching our 90 Day Goals. Once I narrow in on a core focus for the next 90 days, anything outside of that goal becomes an automatic No Thanks!
4: Get Support
When I first had my twins, I struggled to ask for any help. Somehow I thought that because I was working from home, I should be able to watch two babies and still get in 4-5 hours of work a day during nap-time.
It took 6 months before I finally broke down and asked my husband Jameson to take on a full afternoon solo.
Needless to say – making myself a martyr wasn’t such a good plan. Maybe it’s because I was a brand new mom. Maybe it’s because I’m a perfectionist (ok… really a control freak). Maybe it’s because I wasn’t admitting that I wanted to be a mama more than an entrepreneur that year.
Once I was really ready to step back into my business, I realized there was NO. WAY. this was going to work without some real support.
I started by getting over the mommy guilt and finding some childcare. I didn’t rush into anything… in fact, in the early years I pieced together an extra 10 hours a week of extra childcare thanks to trading childcare shifts with my husband, the gym daycare, and a babysitting exchange with a fellow mamapreneur.
By the time I was pregnant with baby #3, the twins were happily settled into an amazing preschool and I was loving not only having a free morning to get my work done but a few hours to rest before picking them up.
And the support didn’t stop at childcare.
I quickly realized that if I wanted to keep my work hours manageable, I needed to build a dream team to keep the biz running behind the scenes. Each time I realized I was becoming a bottleneck in the growth of my business, I looked for an opportunity to create a system and hire a support person.
My support team is invaluable – they are truly the ones who create the freedom I crave for my life and business.
5: Say YES to Self-Care
Self-Care is the newest trend… but I’ve gotta burst a bubble here.
REAL self-care isn’t about mani’s and pedi’s. It’s not about massages. It’s not about essential oils and spa treatments.
Don’t get me wrong… I LOVE ALL THOSE THINGS.
But real self-care is about deeply nourishing and renewing yourself. It’s about filling your own love tank so you have reserves of energy and wellness that you will be able to draw from when there are challenges and rough patches.
Vacation starts Saturday. Oh yeah!
A one-time massage won’t make up for or years of self-neglect.
Just one afternoon unplugged won’t make up for a month of grinding out 16-hour days.
But investing in your self-care every single day – deep rest, quiet, and movement – that will ensure when your kids suddenly all come down with a virus that has everyone feeling crappy all week, you’ll have a reserve tank to draw from.
And investing in professional self-care? It’s all about simplifying, systematizing, and getting real support so you can work smarter, not harder.