Ask Ashlee: Mama + Business Owner

Hooray! The Ask Ashlee series is back! I am so, so, so excited about this series. I have learned so much over the past 5 years and desperately want to help all of you business/shop owners as well!

Question from Kristie Bradley

What is your sanity saver for running a business and family?? I find I am sacrificing some part of me to be good at another whether it’s my Mommy side, wife, teacher or business owner. It’s hard to wear all those hats…”

Ashlee

As women we will most likely always wear multiple hats, no matter if we are mothers, business owners or neither? It’s part of our design make-up. God created us with a unique capacity to handle lots of different things all at once. In His sovereignty He knew that at any given moment I could be answering a phone call, feeding a baby, kissing an owie, folding a load of laundry and cooking dinner all at the same time. All while having a running list of the food in my pantry and the meal plan for the next 5 days. It’s just part of the nature of being a woman. We can handle a lot at once. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we should.

At the moment I am wearing about a dozen hats. Wife, mama (and I would argue that each child, due to their differences and unique requirements, each represent their own hat), pastor’s wife (requires different responsibilities than the ‘wife’ hat), business-owner, creator, children’s ministry assistant, small group leader, discipler, church designer, friend, daughter, neighbor. 

I would say my stack of hats is very high but for right now in this season of life it is working. Let’s talk about my measures for whether or not it is working.

  1. Am I in the Word and in prayer?
  2. Am I resting? Am I sleeping well?
  3. Am I exercising?
  4. Am I having real conversations with my husband? Am I feel free to sit and watch tv with him? (this means a lot to him.)
  5. Am I having real conversations with my children? Am I pursuing their hearts in a way that is intentional and meaningful to them?
  6. Am I meeting the needs within my family? (for me this includes certain responsibilities like meal planning, grocery shopping, cleaning, etc.)
  7. Am I glorifying God with my business? Am I working intentionally and with purpose or am I just reactionary?
  8. Am I using my gifts to minister to the church body?
  9. Am I in community? Do I spend quality time with friends?
  10. Am I able to serve and meet needs around me? (Am I available to my neighbors? If someone needs help or just a listening ear, am I available?)

If these measures are being met regularly (because let’s be honest, life is not perfect so there will be days when I don’t sleep or don’t get to exercise or order pizza because I forgot I needed to go to the grocery…) then great! If not, a hat has to come off. Immediately. Delegate a responsibility or say no completely. Just because we can handle lots of roles and responsibilities does not mean we are flourishing in those roles and the goal is to flourish.

One question to ask yourself, does my calendar and time spent reflect my priorities?

You must also ask to what standard are you measuring success in each of your roles. This is so important! We often compare how well we are doing within each role and responsibility to those who have been doing it for far longer, are at a different season of life, or have a different view on life and priorities completely.

My thoughts on how it can work:

  1. Define what success looks like for you in each role and responsibility you have. Be detailed. Be realistic. (i.e. You are not going to teach you 1 year old how to read. You just aren’t.)
    • If you are married, this discussion needs to happen with your spouse. You are a team and it is pointless if you define success one way and he defines it another. If it means the world to him that you cook dinner, you probably need to know that and work that into your definition of success. 
  2. Define your ideal day and week. Be detailed. Be realistic. (i.e. You are probably not going to get up at 4am to go to the gym.)
    • For me, this works well to see exactly how much time during the week I have to play with. It is a physical reminder that you simply cannot do everything.
    • List out ALL of your responsibilities. Cut things that need to be cut, that are taking away from your priorities and feeling successful.
    • For me, it is best if I have specific days to think about specific things. Since I am wearing very different hats I need to make sure there is room in my schedule for those different responsibilities. For example, Monday mornings every week I go to the grocery store. Every week. Because I know that and it’s built into my routine if something is planned for a Monday morning (like this past week, I had a playdate birthday party to attend) I went to the grocery store on Sunday evening.
    • Ask yourself: what are the things that you are passionate about? The things that make you feel alive? Make sure you are making space for those things in your ideal week. For me, those things include: reading the Bible and exercising. I have to make time for them or I really begin to feel it in my heart and frazzled mind.
  3. Have specific work times/days that are sacred. 
    • If you have a business along with a million other hats, you have to have dedicated work time where you give yourself the freedom to work without mom guilt. This also gives you the ability to turn it off when that time is over so ‘work time’ is not flowing into ‘dinner time’ or ‘mommy date night’ or ‘date night with hubby.’
    • This will look differently depending on the season you are in. If you have small children you may be able to work during naps BUT due since your little one may not understand what ‘sacred’ means I highly recommend, if at all possible, to hire some type of help that is consistent and reliable. Maybe the person just comes over during naptime and the hour after to give you a solid 3 hour work window and if baby naps they help you with cleaning or something of the like, but they’re there to run interference should the little one arise early or need attention during nap.
    • In my case, I have the most wonderful nanny who keeps my two youngest two days a week. It’s made the BIGGEST difference in my feeling successful in all of the areas I mentioned above.
    • One more option is the super early hours. Prior to hiring a nanny, I worked the 5-8am shift. My husband handled the littles when they got up around 7:15ish so that would give me a solid 3 hours. Some of you may claim to be night owls, but I would encourage you to read Start by Jon Acuff. He gives scientific research demonstrating why the 5am shift is going to produce better results, even if you are a night owl, than the 10pm shift.
  4. Invest in a good planner. And then actually use it.
    • Get it out of your head and down on paper. Sometimes we are just a chaotic mess because we have too much in our head. Write it down and give it a time slot in your day/week (next month!) to address.
    • I am currently using the Day Designer by Whitney English.
  5. Be disciplined. If you say you are going to do something, do it. This is obviously much easier if you have done the filtering steps of 1-3 because you will see what you actually have time for. There is not an easy answer to the question, no ‘sanity-saver-in-a-box.’ It takes hard work and a willingness to fight for what you want.
  6. Give yourself a break. Seriously.
    • Stop seeking perfection. The culture we live in elevates that very thing and we need to address the fact that perfection is unattainable and the idea of pursuing perfection is both paralyzing and depressing. So, give yourself the freedom to make mistakes. When your priorities get mixed up, address the problem and make changes. If you realize you have too much going on, address the problem and make changes. If you miss a workout, no problem, you have tomorrow. Pursue discipline, but not perfection.

I pray this is helpful. I pray this is encouraging. I pray you make priority changes where necessary and have those hard conversations and make those even harder decisions. Your life, and the lives that have been entrusted to you in the form of your husband, children, friends and family are too valuable to spend another day exhausted and weary from a pursuit of something you don’t actually want, need or desire. I pray you flourish friend and give yourself the freedom to enjoy the life you have been given.

 

The Ask Ashlee Series features your questions and focuses on bringing honesty, transparency and encouragement to the believer, wife, mama, and small business owner. I would love to chat about your questions so send them my way! [info@ashleeproffitt.com]