2020. Man, what a year. Through COVID-19, a mass recession, and countless acts of racism and violence, we have seen staggering loss and hardship on personal and professional levels.
Women often bear the brunt of challenges like these. Working mothers already juggle childcare, jobs, and a few flaming chainsaws while they’re at it. Now with school back in session, they must either help their kids learn through a Zoom screen or send them off to Petri Dish Academy and hope the only thing they catch is the learning bug. We asked six entrepreneurial moms how they are navigating this overwhelming and just plain weird time.
How does Mom do it?
Jen Lee Reeves, mother of two and strategist at Just Right Strategy, schedules meetings around her daughter’s class schedule. In between providing communication strategies and support to nonprofits, foundations and businesses, Reeves helps her daughter navigate virtual high school. “We are learning the times of the day when she needs my support and when I can hide in my office and work,” says Reeves. She has also enrolled her daughter in a tutoring program to supplement her learning. “I have no idea if I’m doing this the right way but I’m willing to keep shifting and adjusting as best I can.”
Melissa Packwood M.S.Ed., owns and operates Intuitive Behavioral and Educational Strategies, LLC. She is working on her dissertation. She homeschools her three children, all between the ages of 10 and 17. And she is a single mom. Whew. “We do what we have to, right?” she asks. Working for herself, Packwood can sculpt her schedule around her kids’ education and vice versa. She provides consultations, tutoring, training, and more to parents of children with special needs, and has learned a lot from her work and home challenges. “My biggest piece of advice is to pick your battles,” says Packwood. For those moms homeschooling their kids, she recommends taking advantage of any possible flexibility. “Some families work in the evening or on the weekend and take a weekday off. Hang in there. It will get better.”
Adiba Nelson finds time between writing, speaking, and running RocketChair Productions to help her young daughter learn remotely. “An aide comes to the home to ‘do school’ with her so that I am able to continue working,” Nelson notes. She and a few other parents set up a COVID-safe community to share school days with. “It will do wonders for your child’s social and emotional needs, and you’ll be able to get a significant amount of work done.” Nelson adds that the learning community alleviates some of that ever-present “mom guilt.”
Stephanie Silverman, co-founder of Your Teen Media, has raised three of her own through their teenage years. Ranging in age from 17 to 23, her kids are all in different stages of learning, and doing so in hybrid physical-remote settings. Her advice, as a resource for parents to navigate the bumpy road of their children’s adolescence, as well as a mom herself, is the tried and true, “patience, patience, patience.”
Liz Simpler, MPH raises three young children and is the CEO and co-founder of WMC Public Health Consulting. Homeschooling her pre-K kids involves weekly lesson prep, meal prep, and all-around life prep. The eldest, her kindergartener stepdaughter, balances living between two houses and virtual school. Simpler plans meetings and content creation around nap times and quiet moments, however rare they are in a house with three toddlers. “If I did not have a schedule, I wouldn’t personally be able to function,” she says. “I know not everyone is the same, but it works for us.”
Dr. Delene Musielak believes “each moment is irreplaceable.” She hosts her own parenting lifehack program on YouTube and Facebook called The Dr. Mom Show, runs ALEA Publishing, works at a hospital, cares for her four-year-old triplets, and somehow finds time to breathe. Her kids go to physical school, and when they go to bed, she gets work done. “I try not to let my work interfere with my time with them,” says Musielak.
The balancing act
The consensus seems to be that flexibility, patience, and support systems are the keys to mompreneurship. Every family approaches childcare, income earning, and the balancing act of both in different ways. Some luck out with babysitters and aides; some tough it out on their own. Whatever the circumstance, moms have the unique and unknowable skill of making it all work. When the entrepreneur is also a mom, the everyday challenges become excellent stories and memories.