Think owning your own business is tough? Try doing it while you’re also managing one of the most important roles out there: being a mom. Sure, there are plenty of people who juggle work and family commitments. But running a business means you’re dealing with additional challenges that those who work for a company don’t face. For starters, you’re not working with a set schedule — and you have no boss to help you out when you need it.

There’s a lot to be learned from some of the hardest working women out there — especially if you’re in this same boat, and could use a little insider knowledge from someone who has been at it a bit longer than you have. Read on for the best advice that these eight mom-trepreneurs have for other mothers who are taking on the big task of running a business while raising kids.

1. Set boundaries

“Balancing my work and family life takes consistent effort. One way I do this is by having a ‘rule of the stairs,’ where there is no talking about work or anyone or anything related to work after stepping on the first step of the stairs [at home]. I am also very clear about boundaries from the start and have rules about meal times and time off.” -Grainne Kelly, founder of BubbleBum car travel innovations

2. Find ways to make life easier on yourself

“The best advice I can give to a mother opening a new business is to find your voice and set the tone! Use your role as ‘boss lady’ to make life easier for yourself, not to add stress to your life. For example, certain times of day are more important to me and my kids than others – like after school pick-ups. There is truly nothing that gets my heart pumping with excitement as much as the anticipation of seeing the doors of the school fly open. That being said, I make sure not to book clients or classes for myself during this time. I also use this time to prepare dinner and make sure all school forms are seen and I am aware of all that’s happening. I’ve also found that weekly meal planning makes life easier for us all – and my professional skills doing this for clients comes in handy here!” -Michelle Berke, owner of The Kickbox Haus NYC

3. Don’t be too hard on yourself

“Give yourself some slack: Life is short, so buy the shoes and eat the dessert! As much as I can, I prioritize family time before work. I know that these precious days when the children are young won’t come back. When they are teenagers, I know I won’t be thinking ‘Oh, I wish I had gone on more conferences and business trips when they were young.’ I also think women in general could support one another more. Be happy for other women’s accomplishments and cheer each other on, be it personally or professionally. If you and your accomplishments are recognized, it does wonders for your energy levels.” -Lisa Furuland, creator of DockATot

4. Figure out your top priorities

“You have to figure out what’s important to you and what you’re willing to let go. For me, my top two priorities are my son and my company. I make it a point to be a present parent and to be a focused CEO. Everything else often falls to the wayside: sleep, working out, laundry, cleaning. There are only 24 hours in a day. Luckily, we can choose how we spend them!” -Samantha Rudolph, co-founder and CEO at Babyation

5. Get your kids involved in your work

“If your kids are a little older, engage them in giving you feedback on your marketing ideas. My 8-year-old twin boys weigh in on the flyers and pictures they like best, and I ask for their opinion on edits to my website and e-newsletter layouts. The process shows my sons I value their opinions, plus it gives them context for what I’m working on and perspective when I have to miss an activity. Keep an open mind about their suggestions, by the way. My sons recognized the right name for my conversational Spanish program before I did.” -Dori Quiñones, president of The Español Experience

6. Stick to a schedule

“From the minute I open my eyes I know exactly where I need to be. My calendar is my life. I get up around 6:15 and walk the pups. Then I check email for any fires to put out and have my coffee. Then I get breakfast ready for the kids and pack their lunch. I love owning my own business because I get to take my kids to school. Then after that it’s JoyRide all day. I have class and internal meetings in the morning. Then I have external meetings in the afternoon. Late afternoon I play catch-up on whatever I need to and I get to pick the kids up from school. One afternoon a week is for retail. After the kids are in bed I handle social media. The hardest part about working for yourself is that you’re always on. But I make an effort to balance it all, and I think I do pretty well.” -Becky Cerroni, owner of JoyRide

7. Use a dedicated work phone

“As weird as it seems, I keep two phones. One work, one personal. This allows me to truly turn work off when I need to. I know so many people who take their work phone to bed — just in case something catastrophic happens overnight. Unless you’re in a true life-and-death industry, there’s rarely anything so catastrophic that it can’t wait until morning. Allowing yourself to truly disconnect and not have that 2 a.m. temptation to check e-mail is important.” -Christina Russell, president of Camp Bow Wow

8. Strive for harmony over balance

“The idea of keeping our personal and professional lives perfectly balanced puts unnecessary stress and guilt into the mix. Strive for harmony instead. Some days you’ll push more in your business, and some days you’ll focus more on family. Give yourself permission to do that, and you’ll be much happier, focused and productive.” -Jewell Siebert, founder of Life Upgraded

 

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