‘Tis the season when entrepreneurial moms feel the relief of school ending, only to be immediately gripped by summer guilt.
That’s the guilt of hearing your kids say, “But why can’t you take me to the beach? Tommy’s mom does!” or “Why can’t I stay home with you instead of going to day camp?”
Even if you’ve arranged your business so your children can be home with you, summer is the season of working frantically with one eye always looking over your shoulder and your ears tensed for the cry of “MOM!” that always seems to interrupt the most important business calls.
After years of managing a staff with many moms, and now working with two business partners who are moms, I’m very familiar with working-mom guilt.
But now, perhaps employed and entrepreneurial moms alike can ease up on the guilt. A new study from Harvard reports that having a mother who works not only doesn’t do children any harm, it actually increases their daughters’ future prospects for career success.
The survey of over 50,000 adults in 25 developed nations worldwide found that in every single country, women with working mothers and entrepreneurial moms performed better in the workplace. They earned more money and rose to higher positions than did women who grew up with stay-at-home mothers.
In the U.S., the difference was especially marked.
Women who grew up with working and entrepreneurial moms earned an average of 23 percent more than women whose mothers didn’t work while their daughters were children. In addition, one-third of them held supervisory roles, compared to about 25 percent of women from more traditional households.
While the “working mother effect” didn’t affect sons’ earning power or job positions, the men who grew up with working mothers displayed one important difference: They spent twice as much time, on average, handling domestic and child-care duties as did men who grew up with non-working mothers.
If the effect on children of a working mother is this powerful, imagine the even more powerful effect of a mom who runs her own business! Instead of feeling guilty about your business taking time away from your kids this summer, why not celebrate the lessons you’re teaching your children by:
Involving Your Children in the Business
Even very young children may be able to help with things like stuffing envelopes or sorting products into boxes. Older children can help you with more sophisticated tasks—maybe even updating your website or helping you shoot and edit marketing videos. As a child, I learned so much about entrepreneurship from working in my dad’s clothing store.
Talking About Your Day With Your Kids
Even if you just want to forget about your business after a hard day, discussing your business over dinner or during family downtime helps children understand what you do and why it’s important to you—and to others. Explain what your business does in terms they can understand. (I have one friend who still isn’t quite sure what her father did for a living—and he’s been retired for 20 years now. Don’t be that parent.)
Giving Back to Children
There are many organizations that teach kids the basics of entrepreneurship and how to run a business. Get involved with a group (Junior Achievement is a great one), or bring your entrepreneurial skills to other types of children’s organizations. For instance, help your daughter’s Girl Scout troop plan a marketing strategy for selling cookies or hone their sales skills by manning a cookie booth?
Sharing Your Life Lessons
The lessons of running a business translate to so many life skills. Don’t just tell your children about your business when things are going well—share when you’re facing challenges or are disappointed. But also share how you’re going to work through it and surmount it. Children learn by what you do, not just what you say. When they see you being persistent, working hard and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, they’ll be inspired to do the same.
By starting your own business, you’re bringing so much to the world. As the study concludes, when women pursue fulfilling work outside the home, it benefits not only their own children, but society as a whole.
Mom-preneur Photo via Shutterstock
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It is quite easy to talk your way around this as long as you involve your children and make them understand what you are going through.
My dad was a farmer and also owned and operated a greenhouse/nursery, so I know what it’s like to be involved in the business. Sure I whined about the work, but I appreciate the work ethic it taught me and it has been very beneficial to my career. Love that recommendation.
I really appreciate your suggestion about involving our children in our business and putting the kabash on the temptation to beat ourselves up for what we aren’t doing. When my son Emmett was about three and a half, and I was fending off my own working-mom-guilt, Emmett said at the dinner table one night: “Dad, you run the community center, and Mom and I do Little Pim.” I was overjoyed to hear that he thought of it as “our” company and took pride in what “we” did! That also helped me to relax about what I “wasn’t” doing and remember that he got to see his mom doing what she loves, and take part in the business sometimes too.