By Annemarie Robson – International Editor – Middle East Business – UK
There are two camps when it comes to working when you’ve had a child – either you can’t wait to get back to work, or you dread going back and dream of staying at home with your child.
But what happens when “home” is also “workplace”? How do entrepreneurs trying to work in a house with a baby or toddler – referred to as “mumpreneurs” – manage their business, and how much does it affect their usual routine?
Mixing “work” and “children” isn’t easy. Children are wonderful – but can be unpredictable. They don’t always stick to their routine. What’s more, when small they demand your full attention. For most parents of small children, whether baby or toddler, quiet periods when your “bundle of joy” is tucked up in bed are highly prized.
Now let’s think about mixing “work”, “children” and “home” … If you are a mother who actually works from home, using the aforementioned “down time” as “work time” is often your only real option to enable you to continue to work from home. If you also run your own business, the pressure can be overwhelming. Many women try to work at the same levels as before they had their child, which can be enormously stressful. This is multiplied tenfold if you are also trying to establish a new business.
This phenomenon has even spawned a new word – “mumpreneur”.
Some businesswomen love being described as “mumpreneurs” – reveling in the fact that they combine running a business with looking after their children. Some call it empowering, others hate it, complaining that it is patronising and unprofessional.
One lesson most women learn is that when there are children around, they have to take priority until there is an appropriate time to complete what you need to do. This might mean that some tasks take much longer to complete than previously, deadlines may even be missed, but more importantly it means that a new way of working is needed so that all tasks can be juggled successfully – children cared for, work completed and other tasks managed.
Now for those who are wealthy enough to do so, assistance in the form of child carer/nanny or household staff/maid would mean that it is possible to manage their business exactly as “before children”. For the rest of us, this is not the case, and a very stressful game of juggling roles begins.
Female entrepreneurs have a much greater chance of success due to being more flexible, not averse to taking small risks to get a business off the ground, and tried-and-tested “multi-taskers”. Women are particularly adept at juggling the many hats one needs to wear when starting one’s own business from scratch, from marketing to production-line to accountant all rolled into one!