Yesterday Noah (my 4 ½ year old son) told us he wants to go to school full time, instead of just a few days a week.
Deep Breath. Excitement. Hand-on-my-tender-heart.
It’s not surprising that this request has come just two weeks after we completed the transition into his own cool big boy bed, after 4.5 years of co-sleeping with me.
I knew this day would come, when he would want to be in school instead of our precious mommy-noah-days. I knew the day would come when Forest and I would have our own bed again, and Noah would be sleeping in his own space.
Well, it appears that these milestones are coming at the same time for us. I’m sure there is no coincidence.
And, now that it is here, my heart is both singing for my child and myself and at the same time it all feels tender.
These two changes feel somehow sudden and at the same time carefully brought about over the past six months. At the end of last year, as I was honing the vision for my year-long program, The Art of Money, I was also getting a loud whisper that it was time to move towards this new reality, and that my son and my business were graduating to a new level of maturity.
Alongside the preparations for my first year long program, we consciously set out to transition our boy into his own cool bed. We talked about the transition into his own big boy bed, often and gently, trying to get a sense of his readiness and prepare him.
My dear husband found the perfect blueprint for the coolest clubhouse-fort-bed ever and built it over a month period. Noah got to help, especially with the painting part. And we had a beautiful, honoring ritual making his bed together for the first time.
He’s been happily sleeping in the coolest bed ever for over two weeks now. So perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise that he is now requesting to be at school all five days.
More deep breaths…
I get questions all the time about the mommypreneur dance, the choices I’ve made, and why I’ve made them.
There is an amazing movement of mamas finding and growing their true work in the world, alongside mothering their children.
It feels like a perfect time to honor, reflect, and share the unfolding of this process since my son was born 4.5 years ago.
p.s. There is no right way to do business or motherhood, or anything else. We all get to choose what is best for us, our child, and our family. I’m ever grateful for the opportunity to continue to craft this experience with my husband Forest, in the best way for us.
I had 7 years to grow the foundation of my business before becoming a mother, and for me this was so ideal. I know this isn’t the case for many of the mommypreneurs out there – we all have our own timing.
Before Noah, I worked 40-50+ hours per week, had a business partner, oversaw a whole team of Financial Coaches and Bookkeeping Trainers and taught many group programs at any given time.
All of that changed when Noah arrived. I needed to simplify everything.
In business and in life, some years we expand + grow, while other years it’s best to simplify and intentionally get smaller for that particular phase in our lives. It’s not linear, and growth can sometimes look like downsizing.
I had to experiment with new business models quickly, and craft a new way to offer my work. And, I had to BELIEVE that this was possible.
And guess what? This process of experimentation and trust continues. Every year or so since Noah was born, I have tweaked and shifted my business model to accommodate my parenting path, my energy levels, and my desire (or lack thereof) to devote energy to my professional vision.
I continued to ask “what are my favorite services (and the ones I have the most desire for) AND what are the most lucrative?”.
Be willing to experiment, be creative. totally trust your intuition.
And, trust that it is totally possible to be way more productive, focused, effective and impactful with less hours.
I gave birth to Noah in August of 2008, 5 months shy of my 40th birthday. What an incredible 40th birthday gift he was, and is!
Shortly after Noah was born, I parted ways from my whole team and decided I would return to my work after my maternity leave as a one-woman show. It felt good. It felt right.
When noah was 4 months old, it was time to step back into my work. This is the only part of my mommypreneur journey, over the last 4.5 years, that I have felt a little mixed or hesitant about. I wasn’t so sure I was ready to come back. I was madly in love with my child. Part of me just wanted to throw away my whole business, and close that chapter of my life entirely.
And yet, we were (and are) a dual-income family and I was getting too many clear signs that my professional work was not over, that the business I had built had much more to do here.
Once I stepped in, it felt good and I still could feel that spark to serve the larger world. It was not all fun or easy — few things are when you are so seriously sleep deprived as a new parent.
Stepping back into my work after Noah’s birth, everything was different. Not only did I no longer have my team, I also went from a predominantly local business in the Bay Area to a completely 100% online business, all within a couple of months.
The shift from local to online had everything to do with being a mama for me, although all of the marketing/biz trends were supporting this shift as well.
I did not want to have to leave my house for work with a new baby. I did not want to have to shower or get dressed, especially during the first few sleep-deprived years.
Sometimes I questioned this decision, during moments I felt the outside world was telling me to do it differently, but ultimately I knew it was right for me. I wanted to savor as much as I could as a 40 year old mama.
The first phase of working after Noah’s birth looked like this:
Hours: 10 hours a week of work.
Childcare: For the first several months, we brought in childcare for Noah in another room of the house (a wonderful grad student in the somatic psychotherapy program at my alma mater, Naropa). When he was about 18 months, we moved Noah into a small in-house play school.
Business Model: My business model during this time was all about what held the most ease and payoff. I taught my online group program 2 -3 times per year, which I was very comfortable with. I really could not ‘challenge’ myself in my business during these first 2 years. I was really doing deep work as a mama and all of my energy and creativity was going there. In other words, while I stayed connected with my work, and cared very much for my students, there really was not much space for vision.
Team: No team, just me.
Income/bottom line: My overall income did decrease, while I was learning to be a mommypreneur and figure out the whole sleep deprivation thing. And, our family had to significantly adjust our personal finances accordingly.
Key Lessons: Saying no and having healthy and fierce boundaries. I identified my yes’s and had to say no to the rest. A difficult and crucial muscle to strengthen for all of us, especially mommypreneurs.
In the third year of noah’s life (when he turned 2), I got a new fire under my tush and my vision started coming back. I started sleeping a bit better. I really tuned into what was best for my family, my work, what was trying to come through, and a lot came through.
Here’s what this phase looked like:
Hours: I increased to 15 hours/wk.
Childcare: Noah went to play-school for two full days, 9am – 5pm. And 3 full mommy-noah days.
Business Model: We created and launched 3 online programs. I stopped teaching my group programs for the year to focus on my self-study online programs.
Team: Forest rocked the house and put a ton of energy into my business. He created the whole back-end of my online programs, and set up all my technology systems to run and grow.
Income/Bottom Line: I was starting to take home the equivalent of when i had a team and worked crazy hours.
Key Lessons: Separating work days from mommy days, as much as possible. This way, I can give my full focus to one, or the other. Some days, it didn’t work and one blended into the other — those are generally not my favorite days, sometimes graceful and other days, not so much . . .
When Noah turned 3, everything began to expand more. My energy for growing my vision was increasing steadily. My team changed a lot.
Hours: 15-20 hours or so of work each week (sometimes a little more and sometimes less).
Childcare: Noah went to pre-school for 2 full days. Plus we had one day of in-house child care. And, 2 full mommy days.
Business Model: In that year (2011) I wanted to offer online group programs again and start teaching live once again.
I opened my Group coaching programs in a hybrid format with some live teaching as well as some self study. I added in private financial therapy and mentor coaching. I continued offering my self-study online programs.
Team: I brought on Hannah as my new V.A. and she quickly turned into my whiz Online Biz Manager and Co-pilot (part time). Angela Raines helps us craft copy for the website and key emails. Forest: All things Tech and my partner in every way.
Income/Bottom line: Although I did not match my gross income of my previous business model (with an entire team), my net “take home” had exceeded the time when I had a bigger team and was working crazy hours.
Key Lessons: Collaborate with a team. So central.
We’re 7 months into this phase, and it’s been a big one.
Hours: 20-25 hours per week.
Childcare: We added a 3rd day at pre-school for Noah, and shortly after a 4th day at school. Now we have one mommy-noah day and 4 work/school days. It was suddenly time for this, for both of us. He clearly needs more engagement. And I clearly need more space for my growing biz community, but also for baths, self-care, reading a novel, wandering around Anthropology…
Business Model: Way more energy, vision, clarity, maturity. Ready for a much larger community and created the Art of Money 11 month program. (My favorite business model + teaching model ever.) Chose to focus the entire year on one opening (aka “launch”, which I wrote about here). Have space and a ‘balanced’ life throughout the whole year. Get to do what I love: teach, create content, support, bring in great resources. Plus, a bit of space for private Financial Therapy and Mentor Coaching as well.
Team: Hannah. Forest. Angela. Everybody is solid and rocking. Considering bringing on another member of the team (hint, hint) . . .
Income/Bottom line: Significantly surpassed prior income, while working less hours.
Key Lessons: YES, I have had to get way more savvy with time, energy, and my business models. It has been a wonderful koan that has served me well. Celebrate. Honor. Reflect. Ritual.
I can feel the next phase, Age 5, approaching right around the corner.
Noah will go to Kindergarten in the fall. He’s sleeping in his own bed. He feels it too.
So, yesterday, when he asked if he could go to school all five days . . . I sat with his request, his readiness, my readiness, all of it. And, I’m clear: I want to savor our time a bit longer. I am going to stay with 4 school days until kindergarten starts in the Fall. I still want a full mommy day.
Today we had an epic, precious mommy-noah day. In the quiet moments between all of the adventuring in the woods and climbing and ice cream eating, he kept saying “I love you mama” and “This is awesome mama”.
So we are going to keep this one day for longer. I want and need this, and I believe he does too.
Honoring this milestone!
Big Transitions abound in our family right now. This milestone is tender and beautiful.
I have treasured my 4.5 years of mommy days and co-sleeping. Hours of care. Hours of mommy groups. Hours playing in the park. Hours of feeding him and making sure he did not get hurt. Hours of soccer class, chocolate shop adventures, dress-up/costume adventures, art adventures. Hours up nights caring for my boy during fevers and growing pains and cuddling.
I am so grateful for all of these hours spent doing deep work as Noah’s mother.
I am so grateful for being able to craft my mommypreneur role and my parenting and my business model.
I am so grateful to have the opportunity to make choices, and to have made them again and again, to reflect who I am and want to be in the world.
And I’m proud of the path I’ve walked. I find myself repeating the words in my mind + heart that a dear guy friend said to me: “Way to go mama! Way to go at parenting in such a full and honoring way for the last 4.5 years. Way to go at scaling way back and then slowing and fully growing again into an even more effective and soul-full and on-purpose business. Job well done, mama.”
And, here’s to the next phase of my mama-preneur adventures!
I thank you for witnessing my story and I hope it serves you in yours. Consider this an invitation to shape your own version of being a mommypreneur. Shape it: it belongs to you. Your deep mother work matters. So does your other work, your soul-calling and purpose on the planet.
There’s room for everything that’s most important, in good time.