How Jewish Mompreneurs Can Survive the Holidays
As I am sitting and writing this article, I am feeding my two-month-old baby with one hand and typing with the other.
I have a pot on the stove, vegetables chopped on the counter waiting for my attention, a big pile of recipes I am trying to create a shopping list for, a client waiting for a rush job on a logo, a great networking lead waiting for a follow-up, two new client leads waiting for proposals, and a couple of ongoing projects that got put on delay over the summer and need to be completed.
Sound familiar? Welcome to the world of the Jewish mompreneur!
As the founder and lead consultant for Strand Consulting, a business consultancy specializing in small business and non-profit development and marketing, I see this all the time with my clients. As a mom of five myself, I live it as well.
Life for a working Jewess is a constant balance between family, religion, and business.
Go take a look at the hundreds of blogs and forums targeted to the general world of working moms. There you will find hundreds of articles and posts bemoaning the struggle of balancing it all, fretting over the loss of sleep or self-care and many, many tips on how to maintain that perfect, healthy work/life balance.
Did you ever read those and feel like you totally could not relate? Well here is why:
Trying to be a mompreneur is hard enough. Trying to be an observant Jewish mompreneur takes that struggle to a whole new level. The many blogs don’t take into account the extra holidays we have, where the kids are off from school, weekly Shabbat hosting at the level most people do only for Thanksgiving once a year, and the average number of children being higher as well.
Not only do you have to work in all these extra “vacation” days, you are not getting any kind of break then because you are busy shopping, cooking, and hosting, with your kids underfoot!
At any one point in her life, a Jewish mompreneuer may be balancing a marriage, (multiple?) children, pregnancy, a home, a business, a social life, and a Jewish holiday coming around the corner. Or at least Shabbat. Every week.
Beyond the overall struggle of trying to balance it all, there is an additional angle when it comes to running your own business. A client of mine, Leah, feels a constant need to cover up the fact that she spends time with her kids and hide what’s going on at home. She does it to seem more professional to the unforgiving business world. And though they know she is the mom of a growing family, her clients, and vendors, who are often Jews themselves, pressure her to always be available and present.
Here’s a secret: there is no such thing as doing it all.
As a Jewish mompreneuer, you are awesome and already doing way more than most can handle. There is no one else who balances what you do. Don’t let anyone intimidate you. Most importantly, never look down on yourself for not measuring up to some imaginary and impossible standard.
When you are available for any given task or role, give it your all, and when you are not, don’t apologize for who you are.
There is no need for you to justify your amazing balancing act while taking care of everything.
So here are a few tips, specifically for Jewish mompreneurs balancing work and life at this busy time of year.
Plan for it
You know you won’t be able to work for at least the days of Yom Tov. Set up an email away message with no explanation or justification notifying all contacts of the days you’ll be away, plus one. The rest of the world do it all the time when they go on vacation – there is no reason for you to be any different. This way, the stress is off until after Yom Tov, when the kids will be back at school and you can finally breathe again.
Front burner, back burner
You cannot run everything at full throttle; it just doesn’t work. Pick which areas will be front burner and which will become back burner. Either look at work as paying for extra help like takeout food or extra household/babysitting help, OR put your business on the back burner and focus on your home. If you can’t make peace with that, you are going to become the back burner, and that is never OK.
Focus, focus, focus
If you absolutely can’t take a break from the work, set aside an hour or two to fully focus on work, finish what needs to get done, and then return to fully focus on your home. Be in only one place at a time, both physically and in your headspace. It is much easier than trying to split yourself in two or more.
So whether you run your own business, or just work for another one that you can’t get a break from over the next few weeks, I hope these tools make your load just a bit easier.
And for those of you who are surprised every year that Sukkot comes just four days after Yom Kippur, here is a friendly reminder: it happens every single year!
Estie Rand has been helping small, medium and large businesses improve on minimal budgets for over 13 years. A graduate of Baruch College Zicklin School of Business in New York, Estie is also a Certified Professional Coach. After spending many years finding fulfillment in the non-profit industry, Estie founded Strand Consulting to bring her skills of doing more with less to small business owners.