No job description has more bullet points than a mom’s: nurse, teacher, nutritionist, accountant — not to mention the voice of innumerable storybook characters. It’s hard to juggle all this alongside a business, and you might feel like you’re always sacrificing something, whether that’s time with your kids, your business, or time for yourself (yes, that’s still a thing).
This balancing act can leave you feeling guilty, but that guilt is unhealthy and ultimately unproductive. It drags down your mood, hurts your work, puts more pressure on your relationships, and can eventually erode your health.
But you can beat your guilt. With the right mindset — and by being a bit kinder to yourself — it’s possible to achieve that elusive work-life balance.
1. Change your work environment.
Running your own business means you have the power to establish a family-friendly culture — an environment where success is defined by quality of work (rather than the number of hours spent at the office). Strive to hire people who are understanding when you need time away from the office. Parents’ schedules are often unpredictable, and you need a team that understands you actually do have to go watch your child perform the role of “Second Tree” in the school play.
2. Realize that no one is perfect.
If you’re too hard on yourself, trying to be the perfect parent and the perfect boss, you will always be disappointed and could end up regretting your decisions. Life as a working mother has to be about balance, and the perfect balance happens when you let go of the idea of perfection. Sometimes, “good enough” really is good enough.
3. Compete only with yourself.
During his TED Talk about the difference between winning and success, John Wooden defined success as “the peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction and knowing you made the effort to do the best that you are capable of.”
As a mom and an entrepreneur, it’s easy to look at others in your industry and imagine that they’re doing better than you are. Resist the urge to compete. It’s better to channel that energy into achieving your own personal vision of success.
4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
We all make mistakes — as parents, as employees, as bosses, and as humans. You sometimes have to let go of the small stuff and just know that you did your best. One of the biggest sources of stress for a working mom is believing you have to “do it all.” Sometimes, you just can’t. Prioritize the important things, and stop worrying about the rest.
5. Ban regrets.
I have been a working mom for most of my boys’ lives. Do I feel guilty about leaving them? Of course. But regret can spoil both the time you have at home and the time you devote to work. I am so happy when I look at the two beautiful people I’ve raised, and I feel the same way when I consider my professional achievements. I know when my boys are old enough to be proud of what my husband and I have achieved, it will all be worth it.
When you’re a momtrepreneur, you get used to tending to everyone else’s needs before your own. You give to your kids, your business, and your partner, and it never seems to be enough.
But you must begin prioritizing your own needs, too. There’s a reason flight attendants ask you to secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others — you can’t help anyone if you don’t save yourself. I’m not saying it’s easy to meet your personal needs as a mom and an entrepreneur, but being kind to yourself and letting go of the guilt is a great place to start.
Originally from Turkey, Zeynep Ilgaz and her husband immigrated to the United States with nothing but two suitcases, a love for each other, and a desire for entrepreneurship. They co-founded Confirm BioSciences andTestCountry, where Ilgaz serves as president. As the global leader in the field of lab and instant testing for drugs of abuse and health, Confirm BioSciences is committed to being on the cutting edge of offering new, service-oriented drug testing technologies.
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