With her 9-month-old daughter napping in the next room, entrepreneur April Campbell gets down to business. The unpredictable window of time each day has to be productive. To get work accomplished, she has toted the tot to meetings and schedules work-heavy days when she has available child care.
Campbell founded Central Park Dog Daycare in 2005, when her only “babies” were of the canine variety. The business was quickly successful and she found herself working 60 hours a week. When she found out she was pregnant, she knew she needed to make some changes.
“My nine months of pregnancy was really a time of realigning the entire company,” Campbell said.
With the guidance of EWF International, she put together a management team and learned to delegate — making it possible to take four months of maternity leave and then return to work part-time.
Balancing family life with work demands is something all parents face. But it can be especially challenging for mom entrepreneurs, who often feel they have to be present for their company 24/7.
For Mother's Day, we talked to local business owners about how they achieve work/life balance.
“Those who do it well have one thing in common: Guilt is not allowed,” says Darcie Harris, founder and chief executive of EWF International, which provides networking and training opportunities for women business owners and female executives. “They realize that they have to make their business less dependent on them, which is very healthy for the business. They share household and child responsibilities with their spouses or extended family and don't feel guilty when they don't cook every meal.”
Children gain something very important from seeing their mom in a business role, Harris adds, which makes up for missing an occasional soccer game.
Another mom entrepreneur, Jennifer Oliver, thought carefully when choosing a location for her budding business, Paper Concierge. She offices in the Shoppes at Northpark, a short drive to her children's school, so she can attend most of her children's activities — which include golf, horseback riding and musical theater.
She also set up a room in her office for her children (triplet 12-year-old girls and a 9-year-old son) to use after school. Her work day begins right after school drop-off, so she can be finished in time for dinner.
“We all eat together,” she said, admitting they may not cook the meal but that's not as important.
Now that Terri Bowles' children are grown, she's seeing some benefit to having them grow up in a family business. Bowles took over Broadway Tag Agency 14 years ago, when she was a stay-at-home mom to her children, then 6, 9 and 12.
Her youngest is now a sophomore at Oklahoma Baptist University, her daughter is finishing her first year as an inner-city public kindergarten teacher and her oldest is in his final year of pharmacy school. She also recently adopted a 15-year-old.
Owning the business meant she was able to arrange her working hours around her children's schedules. “I really tried when they were younger to let them know they were the most important,” she said. “The business was the business and they came first.”
Andrea Mason's fitness business, Barre3, provides child care — which is great for a mom with young children like herself. Her 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son can come to work with her while she teaches classes, which consist of a blend of yoga, Pilates and ballet.
Mason, who is married to retired NBA player Desmond Mason, said his career shift made her business venture possible.
“I don't think if he was still playing, I could have this on my shoulders,” she said. “Because he retired, it allowed me to pursue this passion of mine.”
She says it's important for moms to balance not just the two aspects of their life, but three: work, family and something for themselves, whatever it may be.