Superwoman Would Probably Have Help with the Kids

on July 26, 2011

Let’s imagine a simple choice: you could pay $50 to make $400 OR you could pay $200 to make $400.

Which would you choose? I’ve yet to encounter someone who would consciously choose to pay $150 more to make the same amount of money.

The key word here is consciously.

How much would it cost for you to hire a nanny for a half-day or put your kids in daycare? $50?

How much would it cost for you hire a high quality VA for a morning’s worth of support? $200?

When you look at the numbers involved, many mom entrepreneurs are choosing to pay $200 to make $400 simply because they have a lot of guilt around having some personal help with their children. Rather than freeing up their own time, they choose to buy someone else’s time.

Let’s be very clear here: as the sole executive in your business, no one else’s time is more valuable than your own. No one else can do the client-, customer-, or partner-facing work that you can do. The highest value activities of your business come from the work you can do.

And it’s really hard to do that work in 2 minute bursts as you’re watching your kids or spending unconscious mental energy making sure things sound right and that the kids haven’t decided to skip Spongebob and go outside.

Yeah, but …

It’s at this point that my mom clients give me a “Yeah, but.”

“Yeah, all that’s true, but I’m supposed to take care of my children.”

And there are an assortment of reasons why they’re supposed to. Because their mom did. Because their mother-in-law did. Because their husband expects them to, even though he goes to “work” and doesn’t have to worry about it. Because their friends do. Because they don’t want to be “that kind” of woman who has people take care of her children in another room while she works on something else.

If you want to live someone else’s life, go live their life. How many of them are running a business? How many of them spend their days talking to clients, reporters, and interviewers?

And, no matter how progressive your mom was, she didn’t live in the fast-paced world we live in. Look at the lives of high-achieving women of yesteryear and you’ll see two trends: they either didn’t have children or had careers that enabled them to have other people tend to their kids.

Underneath all the stated reasons and rationalizations often lies guilt that she can’t be superwoman and pay attention to her kids and her business at the same time. Add to that the general fear and worry that comes with running a small business and it’s easy to understand how hard it could be to see things clearly.

Does this sound like something you’ve felt before? Well …

Getting Help With The Kids Doesn’t Make You Any Less of A Superwoman

You know what?

The fact that you’re building a business that supports you and your kids in a way that allows you to live on your own terms is pretty freaking superhero.

The fact that you’re showing your daughters that they don’t have to live by the social norms and expectations handed to them is pretty damn epic.

The fact that you’re a living example showing your kids how to make it in the new world of work and business rocks the casbah.

What example does half-running your business a quarter of the time show them? What good does bearing the internal pressure of not being able to both care for your kids and business do them? How much better might your relationship to yourself, your children, and your partner be if you could spend dedicated time with them because you had the space to take care of things and put food on the table?

Make The Choice Clearly

If you’re choosing to spend quality time with your children instead of building your business, that’s pretty awesome, too. My main point here is that I want you to be making the choices clearly.

If you’d rather spend that $150 because you want to hang out with your kids at the park, take them to the zoo, or play in the backyard with them, then it’s totally worth it.

But if you’re doing it because you’re supposed to … please check that assumption. There are plenty of things that we’re “supposed” to do and starting a small business is a complete act of defiance on all fronts.

The mom-guilt isn’t serving you, your business, or your children. Who are you carrying it around for?

Discussion

57 Responses to “Superwoman Would Probably Have Help with the Kids”

  1. Loi (Buffy) Laing (@loilaing) says:

    Superwoman Would Probably Have Help with the Kids by @CharlieGilkey http://t.co/5wcIPZO via @heathALL

  2. Charlie Gilkey (@CharlieGilkey) says:

    @Heathall published my guest post on TheMogulMom: "Superwoman Would Probably Have Help with the Kids" http://bit.ly/o9p8fe

  3. TrafficColeman says:

    That god my kids are with me all day..I don’t trust other people with my child.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  4. Rae says:

    The best money I ever spent was a nanny for my kids when they were younger, even though I worked from home. It MADE me money. I just had a new baby (4 weeks ago) and the other kids are now older (school age)… I don’t think I will go the full time nanny route that I did when I had three little ones, but I definitely am getting someone for one or two days a week. I have no guilt on the matter – they’ll thank me when they grqaduate college with no debt :)

  5. The Mogul Mom (@TheMogulMom) (@TheMogulMom) says:

    New! Superwoman Would Probably Have Help with the Kids – Let’s imagine a simple choice: you could pay $50 to make $4… http://ht.ly/1dYFTm

  6. karen gunton says:

    it’s weird, but i find that some times us mogul moms just need someone to give us permission to do the thing we already know we need to do, but have been resisting. you just did that for a whole bunch of moms charlie – thank you! =)

    • Heather Allard says:

      I totally agree, Karen. Thanks, Charlie!

      And we also need to give ourselves credit for what we’re building and accomplishing on a daily basis. :)

      Heather

    • cassie says:

      So true . . . I am constantly judging myself and I doubt my husband even thinks twice…

    • Charlie Gilkey says:

      I know exactly what you mean about the permission. I’m glad it helped!

  7. Tara Gentile says:

    Charlie, thank you for writing this post. Getting help with my kids was the best business move I made last year. In addition to getting more work done, I was also able to think morer clearly and strategically. Double win!

    So many moms start side businesses in order to stay home with their child that they don’t even see childcare as an option. Sure, it’s possible to run a biz with kids around but is that the business you really want. Still?

    Thanks again.

    • Charlie Gilkey says:

      Interestingly, you were one of the people I had in mind while I was writing this post, Tara. And not because I suspected you were grappling with the guilt, either.

      True story. :)

  8. Jane Hill says:

    Wise words. When I originally went back to work (as a high quality VA!!) I knew I couldn’t do the job properly with my child in the home – it was a no brainer for me. I had worked for someone previously trying to run her high profile business and be mum to 2 children … the result was that neither one was getting the right attention and everyone was stressed.
    Since moving from one side of the world to the other I have had to re-evaluate much of my life and one thing was the work aspect. This time I chose to change my job so that I could be here for my son. When he is in school I work (no longer as a VA) and when he is at home he gets my attention … mostly :)
    I agree with Charlie – take on board the reasons behind why you do what you, make your choice and then fully embrace that decision. Stop being so hard on yourself!
    Sorry, I do go on a bit … Jane x

  9. Stephanie says:

    yes, Yes, YES! This pretty much sums it up Charlie! So happy to see a man write this – I’m assuming a dad and husband to a working partner (?). Either way, YES!

    When I decided to get back into my biz about a year after having my son, I was fraught with guilt. Then, egads, my business skyrocketed! I had to make the decision to make good money, or make great money. To work part time, or work closer to full-time hours. To have *quantity* time with my son and husband, or *quality* time. When I realized I could have it all, we made the decision then and there – I hired outside childcare for 3 days a week and have in-home care 2 days, and because of that I have the best of both worlds – a thriving business and a thriving home life. When I’m done for the day, I’m done baby! It’s all play time after that. YAY!

    Cheers to all the mogul moms who are doing the best they can with the support they have.. and still rockin’ it all!

    • Charlie Gilkey says:

      I’m glad you loved it, Stephanie. This is something that I’ve worked with so many mom entrepreneurs on, so, even though it’s not my story, it’s one I’ve heard and worked through many a time.

  10. Marie @etincellestudio says:

    Excellent Charlie!
    I live in Singapore(far away from family), where having a full time helper is the norm… it took me a while though to take the leap as I was feeling guilty + couldn’t imagine what my mum and dad would think (and they still think… I am having it easy)(my mom is a super mom btw).

    Anyway, I have someone now to look after my kids, cook and clean (I know, I am having it easy). I manage to work a lot (up to 45hrs a week) and enjoy so much still being at home with my 2 kids while working hard to reach the next step: own a successful business!

    So my advice is: if you can, get help! it’s good for the kids too to spend time away from mum/ dad! It’s good to do something that makes YOU happy.

    PS: btw Charlie, I love your planners… using them for blogging, it’s worked magic! very happy to read you over here :)

  11. Fi Phillips says:

    Good post but…

    (a) I think guilt is a natural part of being a parent – rather than deny the guilt, why not acknowledge it and work with it.
    (b) Although I use the school hours to run my business, I can’t afford to hire a nanny/childcare for other hours – a lot of wahm’s can’t.
    (c) An alternative to hiring childcare is working with other parents/wahms to look after each other’s children.

    I totally agree however that we should be proud of what we are building and the fact that we’re supporting our families.

    • Tara Gentile says:

      Hi Fi! I honor the your statement about not being able to afford childcare and I know it’s something that many WAHMs struggle with.

      However, building a business that doesn’t pay for a few hours of childcare probably means that you’re not charging enough for your product/service or leveraging your energy in the best way. Would you work out of the home if it didn’t pay for childcare? Nope. That’s why a lot of parents end of staying home out of necessity.

      So why, then, do we think it’s okay build a business that doesn’t pay for the necessities?

      • Fi Phillips says:

        As I said, I use the hours when the children are at school to work and I realise how lucky I am to be able to do this but there’s also the issue that sometimes life throws obstacles in our way to financial ‘health’. I don’t want to go into any further detail because that would detract from the subject of the post. Necessities to me are food, clothes, electricity etc.

        I don’t earn much money from my business but I love what I do. I could charge more but then I wouldn’t be helping the groups that I want to help. The answer, rather than charging more, would be increased visibility and hopefully therefore increased sales – something I’m working on.

        I still think this post is a very valuable one. I just wanted to add to the discussion. Apologies if I sounded like a troll. I didn’t mean to.

        • Stephanie says:

          I hear what you’re saying Fi, and Tara too. Moms don’t always start businesses with dreams of living large, but sometimes just to have a creative outlet and cover the groceries for the month. And you can totally do that during school hours or nap time/evenings, etc. Success is different for everyone. It’s not always defined financially.

        • Charlie Gilkey says:

          I didn’t read this as troll-ish. Trolls normally make themselves quite clear. I appreciate and understand your perspective.

          What I did want to say is watch out for this:

          The answer, rather than charging more, would be increased visibility and hopefully therefore increased sales – something I’m working on.

          The issues related to under-charging can actually get worse with additional visibility. It often ends up that people aren’t charging enough to get some support in delivering the product or product but they also can’t deliver themselves.

          I wanted to leave this as food for thought. Scaling up is very rarely a good solution for the under-charging problem.

          • Fi Phillips says:

            Thanks for this comment, Charlie. I don’t think I’m undercharging. Checking my competitors, we all charge around the same. We all have our slices of what is a niche market too, with some crossover. Having said that, I know that I can take my product to more customers within this niche who don’t currently purchase or are even aware of this product from any supplier (hence wanting to increase visibility) and I’m working on that. I suppose a business that is so wrapped up in the personality of the owner is never going to make an immense amount of money because it can only ever really be a one person show.

  12. Tony Karrer (@StartUpRoar) (@StartUpRoar) says:

    Superwoman Would Probably Have Help with the Kids http://bit.ly/ruWXEI

  13. Baby Jives (Jahje) (@BabyJives) says:

    Such a great read for any WAHM @heathALL: Superwoman Would Probably Have Help with the Kids – http://t.co/jAbqxVk. Thanks, @CharlieGilkey!

  14. Tracy O'Connor says:

    Charlie, I love this post. Conscious decision making is crucial to finding the right balance for your own life and family.

    Another challenge for those of us that are a bit on the ambitious/competitive side is knowing that it’s okay to not aim for the stars every time. I can’t be the only mom that’s felt like there was something wrong with me for taking the slow track to success when my children were young.

    I think it’s awesome that so many of us were told we can do anything and conquer any obstacle when we were young, but I think it’s just important to accept that we don’t have to if it’s not right for us at that particular moment. My hope is that all of us, men and women, are able to have much more flexibility in parenting and career.

    • Charlie Gilkey says:

      I think it’s awesome that so many of us were told we can do anything and conquer any obstacle when we were young, but I think it’s just important to accept that we don’t have to if it’s not right for us at that particular moment.

      So true. I’m glad that you read in the post that it’s not like there’s one right way – it’s a matter of weighing the options.

  15. Hannah Marcotti says:

    Childcare is my favorite business expense. It allows me to be supermom.

  16. Annie Mueller says:

    Key point: “If you’re choosing to spend quality time with your children instead of building your business, that’s pretty awesome, too. My main point here is that I want you to be making the choices clearly.”
    CHOICES! I love having them! I’m so glad I can make my own. and I REFUSE to allow assumptions, guilt, “the way things were always done” and other people’s preferences control my life.
    My mom stayed home full time with me and my sister. I loved it. I had a great childhood. But it took me a while to realize that I could give my own kids a great childhood and it doesn’t have to look just like mine.
    I have in-home help a couple of days a week. It was a struggle for me to spend money on it, but my business is better because of it. I’ll increase it rather than decrease it.

    It’s about figuring out the life you want to build and then building the habits that take you to that life. For me, in-home childcare allows me to still oversee my kids (important for me) and focus on work (part of the life I want to build).

  17. Lizette @ ADHD Chaos says:

    I’m no super-woman, but I don’t have help. Admittedly, my business does not involve all that much interaction (freelance writer) on the phone or in person. Also, my kids are 9, so they (should be) old enough to get on with their school work while I do what I have to do, with a 5 minute conversation every few minutes. My daughter who has ADHD does sometimes make me wish I had help, as she simply finds it impossible not to interrupt constantly. I try to get their schoolwork out of the way first things and just do menial jobs, Facebook, etc. while I wait for them to complete school tasks. My husband is also here to help, so there’s no reason to pay for help. However, I look forward to my daughter realizing that everything will go quicker with fewer unneccesary interruptions.

  18. Katie Cool (@designcool) says:

    Superwoman Would Probably Have Help with the Kids http://t.co/uH1r19Q

  19. Katie Cool (@designcool) says:

    Superwoman Would Probably Have Help with the Kids http://t.co/uH1r19Q

  20. Shannon Whealy (@turn_design) says:

    Superwoman Would Probably Have Help with the Kids http://bit.ly/okNhtD <– Love the latest from @charliegilkey on @themogulmom

  21. MommySphere (@mommysphere) (@mommysphere) says:

    Reading: Superwoman Would Probably Have Help with the Kids http://bit.ly/mUOvie

  22. Cicely James (@sewchicboutique) says:

    Thanks for helping all us Superwomen out with your article http://t.co/6IKRzV2 @TheMogulMom

  23. Elena Verlee (@ElenaVerlee) (@ElenaVerlee) says:

    Getting Help With The Kids Doesn’t Make You Any Less of A Superwoman http://ht.ly/5Otpe

  24. cassie says:

    Charlie, you have really hit a chord here. I have a full-time Nanny/housekeeper and a home based consulting business that has me working crazy hours. Honestly I don’t know how I would get anything done with kids 4,6, & 8 coming and going and creating chaos. She is my rock and I can’t live without her. My kids love her too and are just happy to have mom home instead of on the 7:46 every morning and back after dinner which is how life used to be. Let’s just remember that moms come in all shapes and sizes and there is not need to judge others or ourselves. My kids are happy, they feel loved, they are thriving and I am blessed to work from home and support them.

  25. Christa Smith (@beadorned) says:

    Superwoman Would Probably Have Help with the Kids | The Mogul Mom: http://t.co/rAOkgKY

  26. bekkarawkins says:

    Ha ha you’re brilliant! I need to get you round for dinner! Xx

  27. Marina MacDonald (@MarinaMacD) says:

    @ElenaVerlee: Getting Help With Kids Doesn’t Make You Any Less of A Superwoman http://t.co/A2wH73k this is sooo true-women need to get it

  28. Vicki Hobbs (@ALgirlinUT) says:

    Incredible read! Superwoman Would Probably Have Help with the Kids http://t.co/l1hQslY

  29. Vicki Hobbs (@ALgirlinUT) says:

    Incredible read! Superwoman Would Probably Have Help with the Kids http://t.co/l1hQslY

  30. Krista says:

    Great Post! I love it this is something that I struggle with ALL the time.

  31. Bernice Wood (@womanonajourney) (@womanonajourney) says:

    Superwoman probably has help with the kids ~ http://ow.ly/5OYvj via @heathALL

  32. Naaree.com (@naareeindia) says:

    Show your daughters that they don’t have to live by the social norms and expectations handed to them. http://p0st.us/qazfaN

  33. Chris Johnson (@genuinechris) says:

    A big part of me wants to Troll @CharlieGilkey http://www.themogulmom.com/2011/07/hire-help-with-kids/ but I won’t.

  34. Susan Giurleo says:

    My son has been in some sort of PT daycare since he was 6 months old. Now that he’s almost 8 he has camp this summer and will do 3 days of afterschool care during the school year while I work.

    The truth is, he LOVES his camp/extended day and always enjoyed daycare, too. He has time with his peeps and we still get plenty of time to connect, snuggle and pal around when he’s home because I’m not trying to work while he’s hanging out at home.
    Yes, it costs me some money, but it’s well spent on our lower stress levels and better quality time.

  35. Jennifer Peek (@jenniferpeek) says:

    I’m adopting this view of Superwoman http://ow.ly/5QX6q

  36. Ned Rios says:

    Love this post. Right on for me. As an entrepreneur for 4 years and now have a 10 month old…I do understand the importance of taking care of my business and getting child care when needed. Took me a struggle to get it and it feels so much better. I have more present moments with child and business -love it. Thanks for the article.

    Thanks
    Smart and savvy moms making a living their way
    Ned Rios http://www.nedrios.com

  37. Nicole says:

    Amen! I recently left paid work to concentrate on my own business and the number one comment I get is whether I will take my two-year old out of daycare. Um, no. How on earth can I build a business with Hurricane Erin in the house?

    Plus, my experience with my seven-year old (who was in daycare since he was one) is that he was much more ready for the structure of kindy and school that a lot of the kids who had stayed at home and just had mummy for four years.

    I realise I am lucky in that I have access to a fantastic community-based daycare centre (well, I AM the chair of the management committee!) with dedicated long-term workers. I don;t know what I would do if I wasn’t happy with the care.

  38. Nicole says:

    Me again…I wanted to add that my daughter is in daycare three days a week. The best of both worlds I think because the two days she is with me, I can actually spend time with her instead of sitting on the computer. I do that the three days I am alone.

  39. Rosie Taylor says:

    Who decides what you’re SUPPOSED to do? As Charlie said, even a few years ago, being a woman entrepreneur looked very different. Being in the moment, spending quality time with your kids is more important than your guilt about some outdated image of what your life should look like.

  40. Jennifer Peek (@jenniferpeek) (@jenniferpeek) says:

    I’m adopting this version of Superwoman http://ow.ly/5QX6S

  41. Denise Duffield-Thomas says:

    I don’t have kids yet, but I’ll definitely keep this in mind. I have a house cleaner and I’ve had interesting comments about that – but seriously – my time is worth SO much more.

    I will DEFINITELY get help with my kids when I have them. I’ll book mark this article for the future (and for friends too!)

  42. Heather Allard says:

    Love this post!

  43. Keya says:

    WOW so very well said. So wished I had have read this months ago, as I’m sitting here at nap time, “kinda working” because I’m fatigued from all the running after the three kids and doing the business. Sometimes a little clarity about the choices we make is so important. Thanks

  44. Lisa says:

    I struggled with this for YEARS! I’m on my 3rd kid and finally don’t feel guilty about having a nanny two days a week. I used to berate myself about “what kind of stay at home mom needs help cleaning her house and taking care of her children?” ME! I have a home based business which takes ALOT of work that cannot get completed if I’m jumping up every 5 minutes to attend to the little one. Anyway – don’t feel guilty about it, just do it! And the bit about spending quality time is great. I just can’t believe a guy wrote this article…LOL

  45. Jana says:

    I feel lucky that I don’t struggle too much with mum guilt! Because I know I’m so much more patient with the kiss when I’m working well and being highly PRODUCTive!

    The secret is really finding ways to nurture the kids and do things that make them feel super special.

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