The guilt that comes along with being a mompreneur is real, friends.
Being an entrepreneur has always been a childhood dream of mine. Oprah managed to convince me as a kid that I can do whatever I dreamed of. I always had a passion for designing clothes, but as an Indian, I was told I needed to be a doctor or engineer to be respectable in society. Life definitely took me through a long-winded journey, and after getting married, my husband and I relocated to Wisconsin through his job. Coming to the land of dreams, I figured this was my one chance to pursue my fashion dreams. And I did. An Etsy shop turned into showcasing at the Milwaukee Fashion Week and starting my online store.
I found out I was pregnant with my first child in July 2018, just when I began to explore retail partnerships. My pregnancy was nine months of throwing up, gestational diabetes, multiple insulin injections daily. I couldn’t even get out of bed, so my business came to a screeching halt just when I began to grow.
The plan was to restart my business as a mompreneur in Jan 2020, but this time I ventured into home décor instead of fashion. By the time I got my act together, it was March 2020. I don’t even have to mention how my fabulous timing coincided with COVID. It was so weird to ask people to buy my pretty throw pillows when people were losing their lives and jobs, and no one knew what was happening.
It was such a tough challenge to keep going mentally. Since I didn’t really have a plan B with any other jobs, I kept going. I prayed for the day when I would be swamped with orders. Thankfully, since August, the orders have been coming in a steady stream. Business picked up, and I felt successful for the first time, not only as a mompreneur but as an entrepreneur…if only guilt hadn’t come to the party.
I wasn’t prepared for the mompreneur guilt that kicked in. I got busy with fulfilling orders that everything else fell through the cracks. The dishes didn’t get cleared out after every meal. Laundry took longer to get done, forget it ever getting folded and back into the closet. The time I spent with my daughter decreased. I wasn’t available to her like I always was.
I felt successful as an entrepreneur but felt miserable as a mother. Then I read an analogy about juggling motherhood, home, and business (I don’t remember the source). Instead of considering motherhood, your home, and business all riding on a singular event, consider each of them as a jar full of balls. There are some glass balls in there that you don’t want to drop and break, and there are some rubber balls that are okay if they get dropped. Not every ball is a glass ball. This really helped change my perspective.
It took me a lot to not have a panic attack every time things didn’t work out on time. But I kept telling myself, ‘It’s okay, give yourself grace.’ Somedays, the dishes from breakfast won’t be done until dinner time. The house is now messier than I would like it to be. But that’s okay. These are the rubber balls I’m okay to drop. There are days when my daughter needs me, and cuddles are a must. Those days I choose not to work, and orders will take a day longer to be shipped out. Taking care of her when she needs me is the glass ball I won’t drop.
I increased production timelines to 14 days to be shipped out. This gave me time for unexpected delays. I stopped trying to be Amazon. I am a mompreneur who designs and makes products by hand. It takes time. There are days when my child will watch Sesame street more than she should.
Weekends are sacred. No work. My daughter and family get my time, and I try to be present. There have been days at a stretch when my daughter has needed me, and I got no work done. This pushed back launch dates of new collections by almost two weeks. I thought this would be a disaster for my business, but it wasn’t. The orders still came in.
Being a mompreneur has definitely been a work in progress journey. It has challenged my multi-tasking skills; it forced me to examine my life priorities and re-examine my definition of success.
I don’t have the answers yet, but this is my story and how I deal with my guilt.