How Working Moms Find Inspiration in Hard Times

When the going gets tough, working moms get going. If you’re feeling saddened or discouraged by the wake of the recent hurricanes, wildfires or earthquakes, just read the Twitter feed of mama mogul Bethenny Frankel. You’ll see a woman on a mission, filling up private jets and cargo ships to get supplies straight into the hands of victims.

As of mid-October, Bethenny’s B Strong organization has raised more than $4 million in in-kind donations for Puerto Rico and she’s now reaching out to companies, celebrities and citizens alike to help pool together more than $50 million in donations.

Bethenny’s a lifelong entrepreneur who was driven to create her own success after a difficult upbringing. You can read more about her journey in A Place of Yes: 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life.

Fellow “Celebrity Apprentice” alumna Nely Galan has demonstrated the same boundless determination. Building her own fortune as a Cuban immigrant taught her lessons that perfectly capture the spirit of the mompreneur stories that follow:

I’ve added her book,  Self Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way to my reading list, and encourage you to do the same.

From personal struggle to a more flexible business

“I was sitting in ICU with my mother, who I almost lost the night before, and I knew I needed to be available to her when she was well enough to come home,” says Paula, who fits the definition of “Sandwich Generation,” caring for children and aging parents simultaneously.

As a personal concierge by day, Paula came up with the idea to create a service to help save busy professionals time by curating personalized gift boxes for special occasions. She “scratched out a rough business plan, started researching vendors and took the leap” to launch Ceh~Flora Gift Co.

Paula’s typical clients are busy working women, many of whom are moms as well. She’s raising 3- and 5-year-old “little divas” who she hopes to inspire to be “lady bosses of tomorrow.”

“I work while they’re at school. I set an agenda of 3-5 items I need to accomplish,” Paula says. “Whatever doesn’t get done before my oldest gets home moves to the top of the next day’s agenda.”

Gaining perspective and finding your voice

“Last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it totally pulled the rug out from under our feet,” says Sarah, a “proud mumpreneur of two.”

“It made me realise that life is precious and it goes way too fast. That nothing is more important than spending time with those we love. It taught me to slow down and made me want to help others do the same,” says Sarah.

“I’d finally found the topic for my blog and so A Simple and Contented Life was born.”

For Sarah, it’s the relationships with her husband, parents and siblings that nurture her.

“My husband is my biggest support,” she says. “He works from home too so we share the workload when it comes to housework and school runs etc. As a family we’re very close, our parents and siblings are an amazing support and we all help one another out whenever we can. I have a great network of mum friends too!”

Sarah has a plan in place to build her blog in a way that doesn’t take away from quality family time:

“My youngest is at school, so I usually work between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m,” she says. “I try to get up at 5:30 a.m. to get an hour of writing in each day before everyone else gets up… but I don’t always manage it! I’ll sometimes work in the evening too. I sit on the sofa with my laptop whilst watching box sets on Netflix with my Hubby.”

“Friday nights and weekends are reserved for family time so there’s no working unless absolutely necessary.”

If these mamas can make lemonade out of lemons, so can the rest of us!

This is the latest post in a series on how working moms are building and leading companies.

 

Finding a Village at the Office

I wrote this one year ago, and it’s one of the reasons why “Best for the Moment” is my working mom mantra.

There I was, standing in the back of a conference room, coffee cup in hand, holding back tears while listening to the leaders of my company speak about how hard it is to be a new parent.

I had made a special trip up to our headquarters, away from my 6-month-old, and felt like the exact message that I needed to hear in that moment had been crafted just for me.

My naivety thinking this particular business trip was merely a matter of logistics – fly up after bed time, have my husband do daycare drop off and grandma pick up – was coming back to bite me.

That first night away, I expected my son to go happily to sleep while I whizzed off in an Uber to the airport. But there were tears of protest about the interruption in our well-oiled routine. The next day he was all smiles on Facetime, but his tummy and teething bothered him later on.

My son didn’t need super mom, he just wanted his mom.

Where did this new working mama overdrive come from? Going back to work in the beginning of the year was refreshing. I cherished the early days of just me and my son spending time together, but I was ready to get back into the swing of things.

The hardest parts of returning to work were the adjustment to our new morning routine, when I frequently underestimated how long it would take to get two of us out the door, and pumping on trains, planes, in airports and hotels.

Otherwise, my first few weeks were mentally exhilarating. I felt sharp and focused, even while struggling to get a full night’s sleep during my son’s 4-month sleep regression.

That’s when I got cocky. Amidst my adrenaline rush returning to the job I love, I had fallen into the self-inflicted trap of trying to have it all.

I smoothed out the morning daycare drop offs with podcasts and lattes, and channeled my determination and focus into inspiring my team to make the most of every minute in and out of the office. I became a fan of recipe delivery boxes and experimented with subscriptions to personalized stylist picks. I double-counted gym trips as quality couple time.

I’ve always jumped at opportunities to improve myself, my health, and my career. But trying to do so while taking care of another human being is where I started bumping into walls.

No one asked me to master every facet of my life, so why did I put so much pressure on myself?

As a new mom, it can be hard to find your compass. Where do those of us who are crazy enough to think we can have it all go to confess and commiserate?
Plenty of moms ban together around things like breastfeeding, baby-wearing or school admissions.

But for me, it’s at the office. And that’s been the biggest surprise. The same place that drives me is full of a community of moms who’ve been through the very same challenges.

So I’m learning to be more open about my struggles – even in the workplace – and I’m getting reassuring messages in return. The common theme is that no working mama can do it alone. “It takes a village” frequently rolls off the tongue, and everyone agrees that it’s trial and error until you figure out a system that works for you.

Admitting that I’m struggling at work too, is a first for me. This is incredibly humbling for someone who has never wanted to show weakness and said yes to every opportunity.

Even outside of work, I’m now trying to focus on the simple things that bring joy to me and our little family. Like making dinner and snuggling in bed on the weekends. If I can carve out time for those two favorite past times, I will consider it a huge accomplishment.

Most of all, I’m learning that to admit you can’t do it all, isn’t weak, it’s human.

Not super human. Just human.