Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Motherhood is a balancing act, no matter how you do it. I do my best to strike the elusive work-life balance. As a work-at-home-mom and business owner, I do feel that I get many more luxuries than if I worked in an office somewhere for someone else. I take days off when my kids need me, and no one can tell me otherwise. Unfortunately, striking the perfect balance between work and family is sometimes harder than any corporate job I’ve had, because ultimately, the only way I’m going to get a paycheck is if I do the work.

There are no paid vacations.

My family has gotten used to the fact that work almost always comes with me. I can rarely take a day that doesn’t involve at least checking emails or responding to clients’ social media. As a business owner, I don’t have the luxury of jet-setting away for a week and going dark. My business would suffer. Working from home has been  better for my family, but someone has to pay the bills. Although I can take vacation whenever I want, it comes with strings attached. I will admit that I would much rather spend a few morning hours working remotely than taking a corporate-funded vacation, but it definitely comes with some stress when I can’t sign off completely.

There are no sick days.

If I’m feeling unwell, that’s too bad. My clients don’t take a doctor’s note, nor could I easily get one without employer insurance. I’ve spent plenty of days at my computer when I would rather be in bed. My husband and business partner, does a fantastic job keeping things running if I’m too sick to function, but there are many things that I do that no one else knows how to do (we are working on this). I have to be available sometimes, regardless of whether I’m up to the task.

There’s no back-up.

No one can cover for me if I can’t be there. This is probably the most challenging aspect of running my own business and balancing family. If I have to take my child to the doctor or spend a week in the hospital, there’s no colleague or employee to catch things in my absence. No one can cover my client list or do the tasks that I would normally manage. Instead, I have to shoot off emails explaining that I’m currently MIA and I’ll get back to everyone as soon as I can. Luckily, I have a great working relationship with my clients, and they are understanding about unexpected moments. Many of my clients are also moms who run their own businesses, so they get it.

My family comes first.

Achieving the work-life balance is a challenge no matter what kind of mom you are. You could be a stay-at-home-mom, working mom, or work-at-home-mom and still run into problems. It’s hard to be Superwoman, but luckily, no one expects you to be (we often put more pressure on ourselves than anyone else could). You just have to make the choice that is right for both you and your family, whatever that is. Mine happened to be a work-to-travel business owner relishing in the work-at-home life, but it certainly isn’t for everyone. It really is a balancing act, and sometimes the pendulum will swing one way or the other. Your love is all your kids will ever ask for, and no one can fault you for doing your best.