Finding Work/Life Balance As A Mother And Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs often feel constrained by a mere 24 hours in the day, but what about the business owners who are also moms and inevitably devote many hours to kids and family? Natasha Semago and Tanika Ray are boss moms who have learned to pack two massive roles into one tight schedule.

Natasha Semago’s road to being a momtrepreneur

Natasha Semago is a mom using past tragedy to inspire a brighter future. Semago took on a motherly role early in life after she and her sister lost their mother and endured abuse from their father.

When it came time for Semago to start a family of her own, it grew faster than expected. Six months after the birth of her first child, she adopted her half-brother to remove him from their shared father’s abusive household.

Adding to her personal struggles, she suffered from chronic vaginal infections for a decade. With no relief from the typically prescribed treatments, she was left feeling lost and hopeless.

Determined to create a healthy life and stable future for her siblings, her kids, and herself, Semago took matters into her own hands. She quit her 9-5 job and learned the tools and strategies needed for product development to found VeeFresh, her own line of women’s care products.

Semago says time management is the top challenge she faces as a boss mom. “The responsibilities of a business never stop, and our children want and need our time too. Juggling family time and a non-stop business is tough!”

Tanika Ray’s tips for creating a realistic boss mom’s schedule

Tanika Ray is a renowned television personality, entertainment journalist, and pop culture specialist. The 50-year-old has a red-carpet resume which includes reporting for Extra and trending shows such as OWN’s Ready To Love and Ladies Who List.  Most recently, she created and launched the mom-centric podcast, Mamaste with Tanika Ray.

Ray agrees time constraints make the role of momtrepreneur challenging. “No matter how I try to hack my day, there are still only 24 hours,” she says.

She recommends every momtrepreneur find a space to hang a supersized calendar. On Ray’s kitchen wall, a sleek DAKboard web interface displays family photos, the day’s weather, her calendar’s daily events, or her to-do list.

When asked how she creates a “realistic” schedule, Ray can’t resist a laugh. She explains that the realistic aspect of any boss mom’s schedule requires a savage approach to deciphering needs vs. wants, hobbies vs. passions, and requirements vs. fillers.

“What are the non-negotiables on your schedule?” she asks. “Usually, they boil down to those activities that serve mind, body, and spirit. Our sanity is rooted in weeding out the stuff that doesn’t bring joy. If it doesn’t bring you and your kids’ joy, cut it out of the schedule. To place family dynamic first, dump the ‘I shoulds’ and ‘Probably need tos’ in the trash. Then breathe.”


Momtrepreneurs make time for self-care

Both Semago and Ray believe self-care is critical enough to block out several precious minutes for it each day. The time that feeds each momtrepreneur’s soul is different, but each needs a daily activity that brings joy and replenishes energy.

In Semago’s case, looking good means feeling good. “Taking a few minutes in front of the mirror each morning helps me feel better throughout the entire day,” she comments.

As for Ray, finding time to exercise is essential. “Working out provides me with clarity and the energy I need for the day,” she says.

How to say ‘no’ when something has to give

Creating a workable schedule that includes time for family, work, and self-care means becoming an expert at knowing when to say ‘no.’ Harnessing the power of that tiny word can be tough, but the more momtrepreneurs practice, the more they hone the skill.

Semago sees the opportunity of saying no as a chance to ask whether something is genuinely worth her family’s time. “We try to say no more than yes,” she admits. “The cost of saying ‘yes,’ is always time. Good business strategy is about knowing what to move on and what to let pass.

“No’ is a superpower,” says Ray. “It’s hard to turn down fun parties or playdates occasionally, but I’ve taught my daughter the value of family time. Sometimes being home is the greatest gift for all of us. It allows us to reconnect and relax.”

The benefit of leaving loose ends in a boss mom’s schedule

Ray and Semago agree that too much planning is not the path to a healthy work/life balance. They both recommend leaving at least a day wide open for spontaneous adventures.

Semago embraces the freedom offered by her momtrepreneur role to create spontaneous family memories. “We go anywhere, anytime,” she says. “We make sure to leave space for distraction-free, 1-on-1 moments with each kid. Little getaways isolate us from the hustle and give us the quality bonding we need.”

Ray advises each mom to consider the things that serve each kids’ unique personality and ensure there are gaps in the weekly schedule. “My daughter’s love language is spending quality time together,” she says. “After a busy week, she’s happiest just being at home watching Parent Trap and eating popcorn with Mommy for the 800th time. I try to leave at least one day in the weekend unplanned so we can go with the flow. Being unscheduled works wonders on our nervous systems.”

Finding work/life balance that makes momtrepreneurship possible

Constant work/life balance is an illusion, and Semago says that these roles necessitate a dedicated support team. “Every day brings a new random task we didn’t plan for,” she says. “We use smart delegation of our friends and family to help with certain tasks. Having a strong network of friends and family has had a significant impact on our work/life balance.”

The first few years of being a boss mom require experimentation, but Ray says most moms find the focus that enables them to achieve a practical balance. “I’ve learned if I don’t dive all the way in at work, my productivity tanks,” she explains. “And once I pick up my daughter, I’m on mommy duty. Work time is over until she goes to sleep. I completely commit to what I’m doing and whatever hat I’m wearing.”

While finding time for everything is a struggle, Ray sees it as one of the most rewarding aspects of combining these challenging roles. “When you get the balance of being a mom and an entrepreneur just right, there is an intersection of work and play that feeds the soul in the most beautiful way,” she marvels. “Mommying opens portals of creativity that enhance your approach to business. And running a company strengthens your mommy muscle when managing your child’s needs and responsibilities.

Written in partnership with Ascend