15 Mothers Share Their Tips For Running A Successful Business With Young Children
How To Find Work-Life Balance As A New Parent
Upon becoming a mother, I had a romanticized vision of what the first year would be like. I envisioned a reality where I’d run my business and do freelance work while my baby simply slept and breastfed. Reality quickly set in during the first week back to work after maternity leave. Turns out, caring for a newborn is a full-time job that leaves little room for anything else.
My baby girl is now seven months old, and I come bearing the honest truth: I’m still scrambling to create this dream reality. I’ve struggled to find structure, manage time, and be able to flow freely as a new mother. I’ve had many tear-filled days over what little control I now have, and I’ve often wondered when I’ll ever be able to continue with my career aspirations.
In working with a therapist and talking to other moms in my community, I’ve found a sense of reprieve in admitting I need help and asking for it. Enlisting support from friends, family, and my husband has helped me regain some sense of control. Yet, I continue to ask myself: How do I maintain a career while being a full-time parent?
To answer this question, I called upon other working mothers—many of whom are founders, CEOs, and managers—for their wisdom and advice. The common thread to their advice? There is no magic wand for finding a balance between raising children while running a business or pursuing career goals. There is only our parental strength as we learn to adapt and find what works best for ourselves and our families.
Whether you’re a new or seasoned mother, grab a box of tissues and your favorite mug of tea. I hope you feel as held as I did reading the following words of wisdom and encouragement.
Jeannine Denholm works in PR in healthcare. Her daughter is toddler-aged.
[I’ve learned] to be kind to myself and realize each day, and quite honestly each moment, is different and requires something I may not have needed the day before. Some days I need music, a funny podcast, an extra cup of coffee, setting stronger boundaries; and other days I leave my door open and let my daughter come in and play on my office floor. Right before I had my daughter I made a conscious decision to change careers to something that would make me more available as a parent.
I’m of the philosophy you can have it all just not all at once. I’m sure there are people who are able and happy to juggle it all but I knew that wasn’t me. I need work to have an off-ramp and if I’m done for the day, that’s it. But I had to change careers in order for that to be a reality. And I don’t succeed at it every day. I work in PR for healthcare so the past few years things have been anything but predictable.
Danielle Finck is the founder and CEO of Elle Communications. She has two children.
Really, it all boils down to community. I never realized how deeply I needed other people until I became a mom.
For me, self-care is rooted in nutrition, health, and wellness. I work out 6-7 days each week, try to get 8-9 hours of sleep every night, and have been blessed to walk through motherhood alongside friends like Kelly LeVeque who has educated me deeply about nutrition for myself and my family.
My greatest support in motherhood has come from the moms I can text all of my “what did you do when your kid…” questions to. I’m also a massive fan of Janet Lansbury and Dr. Becky Kennedy. I’ve probably listened to hundreds of hours of their podcasts and workshops and feel so empowered to break generational cycles armed with their wisdom.
My greatest support at work has been the people I work for and with, and I love learning how others have walked this path of balancing parenting and passion-filled work through books and podcasts (my husband joked through the pandemic when I was a fresh mom to two cut off from community that my best friends were Glennon Doyle’s “We Can Do Hard Things” and Brené Brown’s “Unlocking Us” podcasts…he was not wrong).
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the person who supports me in every single one of these areas: My husband Adam, is my greatest enabler of self-care, my biggest cheerleader at work, and my always-present, always striving to be the best co-conspirator in parenting.
Marika Frumes is the founder of mysha. Her son Markus is 2 and a half.
You’ve heard it many times…but this point can’t be stressed enough, find or build your village of support and learn to ask for help.
mysha is hands down my most valuable resource and where I go for vetted advice from like-valued moms on everything. Whether the ask is about helping parent my son through a difficult transition, finding a new accountant or a recommendation (& discount code) for the best summer sandals, mysha moms always have the best advice. I have also met some of my closest new mom friends through the community and no longer feel alone when sh*t hits the fan. mysha has been a priceless resource for me on many levels.
Sam Mikos Harwood, LCSW
Sam Mikos Harwood is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Assistant Director of Intake at Highlands Behavioral Health System. Her daughter Poppy Bell Jean Harwood is 6 months old.
I have an entirely new and focused motivation now that I am navigating motherhood. Generally, I’m energized to take on new challenges, and to be better and do better because I know Poppy is watching me. I’m excited for her to see me navigate work and home and motherhood…I just hope I can do it with grace!
Recently, motherhood has inspired me to work outside of the home. When I had my baby and returned to work, I was working from home. I thought this setup was going to be ideal and allow me to spend more time with the baby and manage the household more efficiently. For me it was the opposite. Because I was home everything was blending together in a way that was really discomforting for me. I lacked luster in each realm I was trying to navigate. I could not give enough to work or parenting.
Motherhood and my dreamy little baby have inspired me toward excellence. Because I want to shine for Poppy and for my family, I was able to make difficult decisions about changing jobs and redefining how I can and am willing to approach my career. After accepting a new job outside of the home, I am relieved that work can be work and live at work, and when I’m home I can better focus on the sweet little love in front of me. The reverberation has been lasting. I have been able to excel at work, I secured a promotion which allows my husband to be home more, and I am developing new skillsets, refining my mission, and I am in a position to support others to do the same. At home my family is happy, healthy, and present for each other, we make space for quality time and the needs of the family.
Alessandra Henderson is the co-founder & CEO of Elektra Health. Her daughter Isadora is 17 months old.
In addition to learning patience, resilience, gentleness, and appreciation for my body’s innate intelligence to create another human, the most surprising thing about motherhood is that it has actually taught me to let go. To lean more on the assistance of others. To put things in perspective. You might say, it turned this Type A into a Type A-.
When I think about how this personal growth translates into my career, I see how this personal growth has translated into an even deeper desire to empower my team and to focus on the things that I can control, rather than spinning out over those I can’t. It’s true, as an entrepreneur, it’s hard to slow down or to be satisfied with what you have. But when I look at my daughter—especially as she’s belly laughing and filled with joy from her head to her toes—I treasure the moment and catch myself with a deep sense of gratitude for the happy, curious, and strong girl growing up in front of me.
Last but certainly not least, as the founder of a women’s health company empowering women around their hormonal health—in my case perimenopause & menopause—motherhood has increased my awe and wonder at the female body tenfold. Experiencing pregnancy, birth and postpartum showed me firsthand what I’ve known all along: WOMEN ARE NEXT LEVEL SUPERHEROES. Actually, let me be more specific: superheroes who deserve world-class care, support, & resources.
Lorraine House is the owner + Lead Floral Designer at Brass Fern House. Her child Elias is 21 months old.
Take it as it comes and accept where you are at. Don’t go into it operating like you didn’t just add a whole new human to your life. The more flexible you are with the multitude of changes that happen every few weeks the easier you are going to adapt. Once I did that, I felt like it started translating to other areas in my life as well. There is no one magical way to do it, because your child is always growing and challenging you to grow as well.
AmyAnn Cadwell is Founder and CEO of TheGoodTrade.com. Her daughter is 1 year old.
Other mothers, firstly my own, have been my greatest lifeline of support in this incredible transition in my life. Never have I felt more mothered myself than when I stepped into this identity. I found the warm arms of community and care ready to welcome and nurture me here. In a way that surprised me completely, it felt like coming home. Communities like mysha—made up of other ambitious moms, and respectful parenting guides like Janet Lansbury—have made it impossible for me to feel alone.
My advice for new parents: know the ways back to yourself, know what fills your cup, and know your own limits. Hang onto your own intrinsic value and identity outside of your role as a caregiver, but let yourself get lost in the delight of one of the most meaningful relationships you’ll ever experience.
Jessica Jackley is the founder/CEO of Alltruists. Her sons are 10 years old (Twins) and 7 years old, and Her daughter is 2.
There’s no single right way to get it all done. Figure out what’s right for your family and ask for what you need. Know what’s essential and what’s not, and don’t waste a minute losing track of that.
My favorite time management approach is to design my work schedule around what’s most important to me, which is quality time with my children. I work six hours during the regular workday and often add time early in the morning and late at night, when my kids are sleeping. This allows me to maximize time with them during the day. I am lucky to be able to design my own schedule and have an equally flexible and capable team to make this happen.
Ara Katz is the co-founder and co-CEO of Seed. Her children are Pax, age 6, and Zen, 2 months old.
My move from consumer tech to life science was intercepted by a miscarriage, which prompted the existential question, “What will be my impact?” Shortly after I resigned from a company I co-founded, I got pregnant with my son, Pax, and met my now co-founder, Raja. It was my pregnancy that accelerated my interest in the microbiome in 2015, and it was my difficulty breastfeeding that catalyzed our entrepreneurial journey. One question led to many around the possibilities of microbes– how bacteria will impact the health of ourselves and our planet—and culminated in a shared vision to realize those possibilities.
Now, six years later, I’ve recently had my second child, Zen (nine weeks ago!), and our mission has never felt more meaningful. The pandemic has transformed our world and changed our perspective of health. It has reinforced the importance of science, and how much we must find new ways to communicate and consider the health of one another. As microbiome science has advanced, it offers us a new language and lens for how we can now think of ourselves as ecologies that are part of a much larger ecology. And as we have scaled Seed in the years since my first son was born, the accountability and responsibility have only had more gravity and the opportunity to expand our impact has me even more inspired today as I bring another child into this world.
Hayley Lucius, DC, CACCP
Hayley Lucius is a prenatal and pediatric chiropractor. Her son is 18 months old.
It’s a beautiful chaos. You can’t control everything, and most days you’ll feel like you’re failing, but you aren’t mama, you’re everything for everyone and that can be a lot sometimes. Try to accept the season you’re in and try to remain present. Take breaks, date your spouse, put your phone/work down while you’re with your child, ask for help and remember the mundane tasks matter, and they are everything for the foundation of your home. You are the heart of that home, you’ve got this.
Angela O'Brien is the founder and Creative Director of Cleobella. She has two Children: Keenan, 11, and Indigo, 8.
My best tool for balance is creating healthy boundaries around work days/hours, but also allowing for creativity to come from my home and within the family since I work with my husband and our kids are constantly inspiring us. We choose to have our office close to home, and to make it a space my kids love to come and visit. We also made the decision to homeschool our children so that it would provide us with flexibility to travel and be inspired by a wide range of environments and people, as well as to live part of the year in Bali where many of our collections are made.
Alyssa Rock is a director in production. Her daughter is 10 months old.
My daughter is in daycare and I go into the office so I have a space where I can have uninterrupted focus. This doesn’t mean I don’t get interrupted and distracted from the notifications in our daycare app telling me when she’s napping, how much milk she’s had, etc. and—let’s be honest—me scrolling through photos and videos I have taken of her, so I do tend to put my phone out of sight when I need to really focus. Which goes both ways, I also make sure that my phone is out of sight when I’m with my daughter so that she can also have my uninterrupted focus.
Sara Tan is the Beauty Director at Refinery29. Her daughter’s name is Zoe.
Motherhood has taught me the importance of prioritizing where I want to put my energy. It’s made me realize that at the end of the day, spending time and being with my daughter and family is the most important thing in the world, so it encourages me to focus on projects that I think are important and will help my career grow. It’s taught me that saying no is actually good! And I know this isn’t answering the question, but when it comes to my career, motherhood has reminded me that it is an absolute privilege to be able to do what I do all thanks to my “village,” namely my nanny. I am so lucky that I am able to continue working knowing that my daughter Zoe is safe and in the best hands.
Rachel Van Dolsen
Rachel Van Dolsen is the founder & CEO of RVD Communications. Her daughter Bella is 16 months old.
I absolutely couldn’t function without Asana! Everything goes into my digital to-do list. It’s a lifesaver. If something isn’t in Asana, forget it—it’s not happening! My husband and I are also really good about sending calendar invites for important work commitments. Good communication makes it possible for our lives to run smoothly!
Just do your best and try to have fun! Every phase of life is just that—a PHASE. Appreciate the joyful moments and rest easy knowing that the hard times won’t last forever.
Julie Weber is the COO & General Partner at The Helm. Her daughter Florence is 5, and a baby boy is expected early July.
There was so much I felt I wanted to do and achieve before I had kids; I thought that my life and career would come to a halt once there was someone else to take care of. In fact, the opposite happened. When you become a parent you become laser focused on what is important in life. That helped me become laser focused on what I wanted out of life, including my career. As I grew more confident as a mother, I also grew more confident as a professional, and vice versa; for me the two went hand in hand. You uncover so many new parts of yourself when you become a mother. And not all of them are directly related to motherhood. This new version of myself led me to new and powerful journeys in both life and work.
As for time management and tools, I recommend:
Grocery delivery. I get pre-made salads delivered for work-from-home lunches, and I order weekly groceries from Instacart. I order more or less the same things every week so that meal and snack prep and shopping don’t take up too much of my mental load. I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen when I have time but it’s one of those things that I’ve mostly put on hold for now, knowing there will eventually be a day when I have more time and freedom to devote to the pleasures of shopping for, cooking, and savoring food. For now, keeping meals simple and functional is key in making sure our days and weeks go smoothly.
Community. During COVID we moved from New York City to a small village in Upstate New York and have found an incredible community of other young families here. Having a handful of friends I can call on to share dropoff, pickup, playdates, etc. is an absolute gamechanger, especially when you don’t have family nearby. Other communities like mysha, which match you with other moms who have kids of a similar age are also an incredible resource not only for moral and emotional support but for sharing tips, information, etc. that can ultimately save you a lot of time.
Courtney Jay is a writer at The Good Trade. She is also a yoga instructor, health enthusiast, and sustainable fashion advocate. You can find more of her writing and take one of her online yoga classes on her website Coincide.