The year was 1995. A class full of fifth graders were asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Hands flew up in the air as the children proudly chimed in with “Astronaut! Doctor! Teacher!”
Fast-forward to 2025. Same question, but will we get a different response? Will the daughter of Melisa Fluhr, co-founder of Project Nursery, raise her hand and share her intention to work out of her home office, to be her own boss, while her kids play in the next room? What her business will be, she’s not sure, but she’s experienced the lifestyle it will allow her first-hand, and that’s enough to build a dream.
“What started as a design blog, transformed into a business, run by a network of like-minded moms working from home, who all had professional careers before children.”
For some, the desire to start their own company is ingrained in them early on. For many, children and other major life events challenge them to redefine the “9-5 normal” and technology is keeping in step to make that possible.
When Fluhr had her first child in 2008, she had every intention of returning to the hospitality industry where she built a career she loved in sales. It was her son’s health scare and an eye for nursery design that led her down a different path.
“What started as a design blog, transformed into a business, run by a network of like-minded moms working from home, who all had professional careers before children,” Fluhr explains.
Jana Robinson, the brains behind Robinson Media, works in peace in her office above the garage, knowing her four-year-old son and one-year-old daughter are steps away with their nanny. Quick breaks to join in playtime and read a book recharge her between conference calls.
Like any job - a work-from-home one comes with trade-offs. The perk of having your children napping across the hall, also means they’re pulling on your leg as you muddle through your Q4 budget or meet with a new client.
For this very reason, Robinson chooses to hold all meetings outside of her home. Even the most well-behaved four-year-old might not fully comprehend, “Shh…Mommy is closing a crucial deal.”
Despite leaving their corporate careers and becoming their own bosses, work-from-home moms still find themselves searching for the Holy Grail of work-life balance. A flexible schedule that allows you to take the kids to a matinee, leaves you catching up on work until the wee hours of the morning.
“Being in the moment is my mantra. The breakfast table is for giving my three-year-old, Adrienne, my full attention, rather than half-listening and shooting off emails,” says Lauren Mansell, a busy mom and entrepreneur months away from launching her own app.
“Being in the moment is my mantra. The breakfast table is for giving my three-year-old, Adrienne, my full attention, rather than half-listening and shooting off emails,”–Lauren Mansell
She lives her double life throughout the day. Adrienne’s at school: business woman; dinner on the table: mom; bath time: mom; 8 p.m. and a sleeping baby: businesswoman.
While flexibility is the work-from-home buzzword, all three mompreneurs credit their success to keeping a schedule.
“Setting true office hours will save you from the black hole that is running errands and doing laundry. Before you know it, you will have lost half your day,” Robinson explains.
The new normal may be more of a juggling act than it was 20 years ago, but this kind of circus is well worth the freedom to chart your own course, at your own pace.
Other mom-approved tips to make being your own boss a little easier:
- Make peace with mediocrity (or at least the pipe dream of perfection). This one might be hard to swallow - but understand that you can’t be everything at once. There will be days when you go to sleep wishing you spent more time in the playroom and days when you wake up in a panic because you’ve double-booked a client meeting and the play gym.
- Treat yourself to a dedicated workspace that allows you to focus on work, without a sightline to a sink full of dirty dishes begging you to clean.
- Prioritize and know when to turnoff. When your office is three steps and a left-hand turn from your bedroom it’s easy to fall victim to overworking. Work hard, but pace yourself. If you’ve started your own business - it’s most likely focused around something you love. Keep it that way.
- Turn off the T.V. Working from home may allow you the luxury of writing your 2016 plan with Friends re-runs in the background, but odds are it’s hurting your productivity.
- Research industry workshops and conferences to attend. Conference calls and Google Talk can keep business running on a regular basis, but there is no true substitute for face-to-face interaction. It’s great for relationship building and your own sanity to get out every now and then.