Guilt entrepreneurs

Let’s Let Go of Guilt As Entrepreneurs

Dare I say that many of us became entrepreneurs for the flexibility. So we could dictate our own professional lives and not have to answer to anyone.

Why, then, do we continue serving a boss that isn’t there?

It’s been my experience since I left my job with the Detroit Lions in 2014. I’ve struggled to let go to the “9-5 grind,” even though there is no one pressuring me to hold onto it.

Today my 3-year-old daughter had to stay home from school. My tendency when that has happened in the past is to continue with my day as though nothing is different, pushing my kids (I have three of them) toward the television while I pound out deliverables.

Envision me at my computer while my kids scream from the other room that they’re hungry or bored. I get up to attend to the request and then sit right back down to continue with work.

That isn’t happening today.

Today, I’ve embraced my daughter being home with me and have paid attention to her. We’ve played Candy Land, gone to the park, and ate lunch together. We spent an hour in our family’s upstairs playroom – her playing and dancing to music while I worked at our art table.

Now I’ve sat down to write this story while she is in the living room watching Disney Junior. Once I’m finished with my story, we have a date to play Mario Kart.

This is worlds apart from how I’ve behaved in the past and I’m glad to have a different perspective now.

How has my perspective changed?

I think we are raised in a culture that sees stress as a badge of honor. If we are too busy to do fun things, we must be doing something right. For early entrepreneurs or business owners — especially women — this can result in massive amounts of confusion.

  • Instead of working on our businesses (the fun stuff!), we spend all of our time focused on client businesses. This hurts our ability to grow.
  • We eat standing up or in front of the computer, searching for whatever we can find in the cupboards or refrigerator. The message in our minds? Get back to work!
  • We feel guilty not working while the rest of the world is. If others are in an office, we should be, too … right? Not necessarily. A benefit of being a business owner is that we get to make our own schedules and we need to own that.

It has taken me a long time to get to the mindset I’ve had today: enjoy the day with my 3-year old while I can, balancing work with play. Does that mean I’ve skirted my responsibilities as a business owner? Nope. My husband will be staying home with her tomorrow so I can focus on my work.

Today, however, it’s take-my-daughter-to-work day.

Work just happens to be at home.

Mother daughter

6 Things I Model for My Daughter Every Day

Noah's Ark Little PeopleThe other day, my husband and I were getting our kids ready for school and my 5-year-old daughter suddenly yelled, “Jesus!”

I was mortified. Had she heard me saying the Lord’s name in vain? Had I violated the third commandment? I turned, relieved that she wasn’t, in fact, swearing, but instead had a Little People version of Noah. I exhaled as I recognized that she believed this little builder of the ark was actually Jesus.

Whew.

It made me think, though. What do I convey with my daily actions and words? Am showing her the version of myself that will impact her in a positive way, or am I setting her up to be the paranoid, ball of stress I tend to be?

What I Am Changing For Her

Love of Plugging In

Here’s the thing about me: I am a true extrovert who loves to communicate. I love it. If it were up to me, I would engage someone all day, every day. This means I always have my phone within arm’s reach to send a text message, instant message, check Facebook, or read email.

It’s something I’ve been working to change recently because I want to focus on my children when I’m with them. They deserve my undivided attention for stretches of time each day instead being constantly interrupted by the ding of a phone. I suppose my husband deserves that, too.

Love of Working

I am a driven individual who will stop at nothing to get what I want. This is both a blessing and a curse. It has resulted in unrelenting energy toward building a career I love, but it has also resulted in me ignoring family time because I can’t peel myself away from my computer.

The thing is, I see this from two angles. While I know it is important to set aside special time for family, I also want my children to understand that we have to work hard so they can have the luxuries they are afforded. Sometimes they just have to let me get something done.

It is also important to me that my daughter sees my drive and passion toward a job I love. She is wired just like me (something extremely difficult to deal with as a parent – sorry, Mom and Dad), so I know she will stop at nothing to get what she wants in life.

I have to show her my passion, but also show her that it’s okay to take time away from it to focus on other things that matter.

What I Am Sharing With Her

Love of Coffee

Beyonce mug

I own a version of this Beyonce mug and it may or may not inspire me to get through the day.

Okay, so I’m not actually sharing coffee with her, but she sees that I love it. There is something special about her knowing that about me. When I hear my daughter say anything about, “Mommy’s coffee,” my heart melts a little bit.

Sometimes she will have her own “coffee,” which equates to a princess mug filled with milk or water. For me, coffee represents relaxation; sitting down to enjoy a mug while reading a book or magazine, watching a morning program, or digging in to work.

It also represents jolting myself awake after a restless night of getting up with the baby, but that’s neither here nor there.

Love of Puzzles

Puzzle Organizer

The Ravensburger 1000-piece puzzle organizer I use, which is perfect for when you can’t have a puzzle out on a table all the time.

I have recently gotten back into puzzles because they are the only way I can relax (if you haven’t figured out by now, relaxation isn’t exactly my strong suit). My kids see me with my puzzles (I use the storage container to the right), which I hope shows them the importance of mundane hobbies.

Being the mini-me that she is, my daughter sometimes struggles to spend time alone. When she and I are home together, she wants to engage all the time, poking and prodding until I give in or lose my mind. I’m not sure she cares which result she gets, since she gets attention either way.

What I Am Stressing to Her

Love of Family

Ask any freelancer and they will tell you that work-life balance is the most difficult part of the job. You are always at work since your home is your work, and it can be tough to disconnect. The start-up phase is particularly tough because you are working your butt off to get your business off the ground. The guilt I feel over setting it aside is overwhelming sometimes.

Thankfully, recent revelations (helped along by my husband and some divine intervention) have shown me that I have to make time for my family. I have to shut it down at the end of the day and focus on what matters most: the people in my life. Yes, I have to make a living for those people so they have a roof over their heads and food in their bellies, but I also need to cherish them as the incredible little people they are.

Love of Quality Time

You probably won’t believe me after all of my previous points, but I love quality time. What I have started to do with each of my kids (something I will write about down the road) is to spend “special time” at the end of the day before they go to bed.

They are one-on-one with me or my husband, reading a book or playing a game. This is significant for my daughter who would probably crawl into my clothes with me to spend the day (and night) if I let her.

It’s been a benefit for us as a family because they are more relaxed and I am more relaxed (in my case, I use the term “relaxed” loosely). My hope is that the time I’m investing will not only help them feel special, it will alleviate stress in our household.

I want to convey the right things to my daughter. I’m far from perfect, but I want to convey that, too. What I have come to learn as a parent is that nothing we do will be all right or all wrong. We can only do our best, so it’s best to just laugh when your kid nearly insults her Savior while playing with a Little People zoo.

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