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The platitude “it takes a village to raise a child” is, let’s face it, overplayed. It feels especially shallow in the era of COVID-19, when moms as a whole have lost access to the already limited resources that enable them to raise the next generation. So for those moms who are caring for children while simultaneously running a business, the sheer notion that there’s a gaggle of individuals waiting in the wings to assist you in all things entrepreneurial and parental is, well, laughable at best. Like, where is this “village” you speak of now?
But even though they’re hard to see right now, our support people are still out there. And for moms who run businesses, they are indispensable. The people every new mom who owns a business needs in her life don’t need a degree in business management or be marketing geniuses. They don’t need to have “been there, done that” in order to support their entrepreneurial mom friends in maintaining the pursuit of their career endeavors as a working mom. There might not be a village, per se, but the luckiest moms among us have a handful of people who will be instrumental in the continued success of your business and the transition every person experiences when they become a parent for the very first time.
So please, feel free to lean out of the idea that you have to do business and motherhood by yourself. While “it takes a village” may not be attainable for many new moms and business owners, the idea behind it rings true: You are not alone, you do not have to carry on as a business owner and a parent alone, and when you embrace the vulnerability that comes with admitting you cannot do it all alone, success — in whatever way you personally define it — is sure to follow:
1. The Type A Friend
Can they be annoying? Sure. Constantly planning, outlining, and seemingly humble-bragging about every seemingly minuscule moment of life can, you know, be a lot. But when push comes to last-minute-deliverable-shove, they’re the person you want in your corner. Whether it’s finding ways to at least mitigate the chance of a meltdown — on behalf of you or your child — or planning your work week so that it best suits you and your family, having a Type A friend to help you align all your metaphorical ducks in a seamless row will prove invaluable.
As moms and business owners, our lives center around our emotional labor — we’re constantly thinking of X, Y, and Z. The Type A friend can help do this heavy lifting with and for you. Just make sure you return the favor if and when you can.
2. The Accountant
One word: taxes. I mean, there’s really no reason to continue, but in case the overwhelm of annual or quarterly taxes have eluded you until this very moment, please love yourself enough to employ someone who knows the ins and outs of taxes to take care of yours. From tax write-offs and deductions to potential deferments and payment plans, it’s worth your business and your sanity to find a solid accountant and put them to work.
3. The Child-Free Aunt
This person doesn’t have to be your kid’s actual aunt, obviously. They play more of the de facto aunt in your child’s life. Hell, they don’t have to be child-free, either, but in my experience having a child-free auntie who happily tends to your child because they aren’t exhausted by their own is beyond helpful.
My best friend, for example, doesn’t have kids and doesn’t want any, and I have trouble thinking of anyone — including my mother and my partner — who has supported me more in both parenthood and my career. It sounds selfish, and perhaps it is, but when I need something, be it a babysitter, a rant session, or just some bold-faced sympathy while I crawl into a hole of self-pity, she’s there.
4. The Always Positive Friend
Look, I’m not going to pretend that toxic positivity isn’t a thing. It is. As human beings capable of experiencing a wide range of complex emotions, to even attempt to be constantly happy and view the world through a “glass half full” lens is not healthy.
But as a new mom and a business owner, chances are pretty high that you don’t need help on the negativity front. Whether it’s navigating the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses, to weathering the isolation of new motherhood that has grown more severe in the midst of a public health crisis, it can be difficult to find and appreciate the positive.
Enter the always positive friend. What might have once driven you mad will now prove to be beneficial. We all need a little lift now and again, and this friend, who just oozes positivity and can recite a spiritual affirmation on the spot, will help balance you as you forge your way forward in both business and motherhood.
5. The Supportive Partner
Do you need a parenting partner to raise a child? Obviously not. Do you need a partner to assist in raising your child so you can also grow your business? Also, obviously, no. Just look at any one of the many examples of single parent business owners.
But should you have a supportive parenting partner if you want one? Absolutely. For those who are doing this whole mom thing with another person, you deserve to have someone in your corner who will help shoulder the responsibilities of child-rearing while cheering you on as you pursue your career goals. In 2014, 61% of women “said family responsibilities were a reason they weren’t working,” per a Kaiser Family Foundation/New York Times, CBS News poll and compared to just 37% of men. Women in cis-hetero relationships have long been subjected to outdated gender roles that leave them shouldering the vast majority of parenting responsibilities, often to the detriment of their personal, political, educational, and business-oriented goals.
This, clearly, is suboptimal (to put it gently and without profanity). If you have a partner, make sure they’re supporting you and your work to the same capacity that you are supporting them.
6. The Overly-Protective Mom
This person does not have to be your biological mom, step-mom, or even a mom at all. Any parent or parental figure, family member, or friend who has been the person who looks out for you, even when their protective tendencies have felt like a bit “much.” This person will ignore the moments you insist “I’m totally OK” and will, instead, consider all the stressors of your life and encourage you to focus on yourself, your self-care, and ways in which you can protect yourself from any negativity. Because let’s be real: moms need to be mothered too.
7. The Loving Childcare Provider
So many women are starting and building their businesses while being the sole provider for their children and families, but just because we can’t doesn’t mean we should have to. If we really believe in “it takes a village to raise a baby,” then we, as a country, should be working to provide that village for all women, especially Black and brown women who are navigating systemic racism in step with the difficulties of parenthood and entrepreneurship.
So if you can, find and utilize a wonderful child care provider who can focus on your children so you can focus on your work.
8. The Designated Hype Person
We all benefit from having someone in our life who tells us the truth, even when we don’t want to hear it. Hell, oftentimes that person is the one to pull us out of our own narcissistic spirals and assist us in seeing the relativity of our unique situations. But sometimes, you just need someone who is going to shamelessly sing your praises and cheer you on. You need to have a bonafide hype person who focuses on all your good and the good you can do and makes you feel like the Coachella Beyonce of your own life.
9. The Fellow Entrepreneurial Mom
You don’t know what you don’t know, and you can have an entire team of supportive people in your corner and still lack real support if you don’t have at least one person who has been where you are and can provide solidarity and understanding in a way that no one else can.
We benefit from diversity in our communities, but we also benefit from seeking community among like-minded people who have gone through the same life experiences that we’re currently traversing. So if you can, find a group of entrepreneurial moms and confide in them. Allow these moms to put their learned knowledge to good use, and then be prepared to do the same for the next new mom who owns a business and who needs and deserves just as much help and support as you do.
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