The ups and downs of being a work at home entrepreneur are not foreign to any of us.
Splitting time between the business and the household is always a challenge, and I frequently hear WAHMs sharing their stories about empty fridges and messy houses and piles of laundry.
What I rarely hear shared are the harsh realities of being a mom who is in start-up mode, who is just getting her hands dirty in the muddy puddles known as “getting the business off the ground”, and who doesn’t always have the full support of her husband or family.
It’s an ugly truth that is kept hidden behind the curtains, and it happens more often than you think.
When I started my first company in 2006, I had no idea just how much time the business would require. With 2 kids under 2, my days were busy and my nights were all about work. My workday started at 8:30 pm and lasted until 2 am or later. My children were up at 6, ready for playtime and completely oblivious to my exhaustion.
My husband was truly supportive – at the beginning. He viewed the business as a hobby: non-intrusive to our lives, something that kept me occupied, and maybe brought in a few bucks for my lattes.
In year two, when the business really started to build, he was singing a different tune. Now the business was disrupting the household, the fridge and the pantry were bare, and I was too tired to spend time with him. All absolutely true.
What stunned me was the comment that I needed to re-evaluate the business, because from his perspective, the amount of time I put into the business was not generating a reasonable return.
Of course it wasn’t.
I was still in start-up mode, tired and frustrated, and completely perplexed about how a man who had started four businesses of his own couldn’t understand what it takes to build a business.
We had at least two severe fights every year. What usually transpired was me walking away in tears, trying to figure out where I would find a “real” job, how that would work into our lives and how I would wind down a business that was booming and become someone else’s employee.
By the next morning, cooler heads prevailed (mine), and I was ready to try to balance everything.
Things worked smoothly for a while until the business started to triple. By then, we had moved from one province to another and the business just caught on in the new market.
Once again, we were fighting over the needs of the business and the needs of the family.
After fight number 4, I decided it was time to show him how much more disruptive life could be.
I found a job outside the home.
While my new employer was very accommodating about my need for flexibility, my husband was starting to see how this was a very bad idea.
Working outside the home meant I was not readily available when the kids got sick at school.
Working outside the home meant I was not going to be home to prepare dinner – and lunches.
Working outside the home meant working on the weekend, and sometimes evenings.
Working outside the home meant laundry at night, housecleaning never, and grocery shopping on the weekend.
This was not going to work out.
I shifted gears and made the conscious decision to be completely candid with my husband. When we finally sat down to talk like rational adults, I discovered something amazing. When I involved my husband in my plans for the business, he could visualize where I wanted to go. I asked for his help with various home and business duties. I told him the business made me happy and I felt fulfilled, regardless of what was in the bank account.
This full disclosure was a turning point. My husband now checks in with me every weekend, trying to determine how he can be of service to my business and to our family.
So if you are faced with an unsupportive spouse, make an appointment to talk about the business and share where you want to go – together.