All morning I’ve been fighting with a toddler to eat her breakfast. Just eat. the dang. toast. She’s a little stubborn – like her mama. And her mama’s mama. And her mama’s mama’s mama. The little stubborn thing celebrated her second birthday last weekend, and as she spent most of the day with her dad, it was a bittersweet day for her mama. These early birthdays are more of a celebration for the parents than the kids, right? Celebrating the fact that you’ve kept another human alive for 2 whole years. Celebrating the fact that you’re still somewhat sane and standing upright. Remembering the day, not so long ago, that you welcomed the little thing into the world. I did all those things, but the latter is always a toughie.
The day my daughter was born was bittersweet because I was immediately a single parent. Actually, I was a single parent my entire pregnancy, but the day I finally held her in my arms, the realness of doing this job alone became overwhelmingly evident. And so her birthdays are reminders of her day of birth – and that day was not at all what I had imagined it would be. I was overjoyed to be a mother, but saddened to do it alone.
Shortly after I became a solo parent, I also quit my day job and took my business full-time. Read: solopreneur. That’s a lot of solo stuff 😉 As I navigated both worlds at once – single motherhood and entrepreneurship – similarities between the two began to emerge. I wrote a post about a year ago that talked about things that my divorce taught me about business. This post is somewhat of a followup, sharing a few ways that single parenting looks a lot like running a business on your own.
you carry the weight, but you don’t have to pick up all the slack
As a single parent, every turn is your turn. The middle of the night feedings, the diaper changes, the snack prep, the disciplining, the doctor’s appointments – all the things 😃 It can be both rewarding to hoard all this one-on-one time for yourself, and also unbelievably draining. All the responsibility for this child falls on you, and you alone.
The same can be said for solo entrepreneurship. You carry the weight of your business when you run it all on your own. Every win is credited to you, but every failure is also yours to bear. You can tend to wear all the hats – the boss, the accountant, the designer, the strategist, the assistant, the marketer, the everything. As rewarding as owning a business can be – knowing you built this thing from the ground up — this much weight can also seem like a burden. It’s draining + exhausting to wear all those hats at once. They get heavy. They can lead to burn out.
The solution? Ask for help. Both as a single parent (or even a married parent!) and as a solo entrepreneur, you have to learn to ask for help. Help watching your child, help doing the housework, help on the outings. Help figuring out your bookkeeping, help designing your materials, help managing all the little tasks. It’s okay to ask for help, and it’ll make you a better parent and a better business owner to have someone else pick up the slack every once in awhile.
you do it by yourself, but you are not alone
Single parenting is no easy task. Solo entrepreneurship is also not a walk in the park. You have good days and bad days; drink-all-the-wine wins and eat-a-whole-gallon-of-ice-cream losses. It can feel like you’re in the trenches all alone, but you’re not. Day-to-day, you might physically be calling the shots by yourself, but you are not alone. There are communities and pockets of people exactly like you, with the same struggles and trials, all of us navigating the worlds of parenting and business ownership together. There are tons of great Facebook groups you can join to swap stories + strategies (I particularly love this one and this one). There are networks of friends you can find through Instagram or Twitter that are in similar places in life and business. Strike up a conversation, schedule a Skype date, or send them an email – you never know, they might be stalking you right back 😉
These relationships that are fostered online can lead to real, in-person friendships that go way beyond business. I’ve made lots of new friendships this way, people from all over the world. They may not be sitting with me at the breakfast table trying to convince my daughter to eat the dang toast, but I can jump on Instagram and see that they’re deep in the trenches of potty training (and good luck to them, I'm too scared to go there yet!). Or I can be sitting alone at my computer trying to figure out what the heck a sales funnel is, but I can also jump in my Slack group I started with two business-turned-real-life friends last year to share my hangups and get their advice.
Whether you’re a single parent or a solo-entrepreneur – you may be driving the ship alone, but you’ve got people around you to help you steer.
forming habits + a hint at something new
As I’ve been navigating this season of my life, I’ve clung to one simple practice each day – reading some Psalms + Proverbs. A friend introduced me to a simple date-based schedule awhile ago, and it’s become my saving grace on tough days. I’ve never been good at forming daily habits, so remembering to read my Bible (or read anything, for that matter) and pray daily has been something I’ve always struggled to get the hang of. But this simple schedule has helped me form that habit this year (thought I'm still not always very consistent), and I’m excited to hint at something new and different coming from Paper + Oats later this year centered around this daily practice. Hopefully it’ll help you end a rough day on an encouraging note, or be an opportunity to spread some love to a friend. There are lots more details to work out on my end, but I’m excited to be able to share more in the future.
If this sounds like something that interests you, drop in your email below and I’ll keep you in the loop as this new project progresses. Eventually, this will include a free sample of what’s to come, though it’s not quite ready yet. Soon, friends!