In March last year, Professor Robert Kelly was in a live interview with the BBC when his children burst into the room, and his chaotic family life was broadcast around the globe. The video is hilarious, cute and cringe-worthy and, according to international business coach, Lauren Marie, it reflects the messy reality of millions of parents who run a business from home – a messiness, sadly, that most Mumpreneurs feel pressured to hide from the world.
"Society has this point of view that you must always appear to be composed and in control", says Lauren, an entrepreneur, global Joy of Business facilitator and mother of three-year-old twins. "The truth is that we Mumpreneurs spend our lives in varying degrees of chaos. It's not perfect – it's not even always organised. At times it's very messy."
Lauren's main concern is that many Mumpreneurs 'reduce' what they think they can do, be or achieve, simply to keep up the appearance of being in control. "I always say to my clients, what if being a mum can allow you to create more, not less? Choose to create more with your business, and your life – especially if it doesn't look perfect", Lauren advises.
In order to help Mumpreneurs break free from the need to appear perfect – and help them choose more for themselves and their business – Lauren wants to shine a light on the many ways that life as a parent entrepreneur can appear less than 'perfect':
Home: Like most mums, Lauren enjoys having a tidy home but she has learned to make compromises in order to spend more time on her business. "My kids have a talent of destroying every room they walk into within minutes so my home can be, literally, very messy. I used to choose to constantly tidy and clean and pick up after my twins, until I realised I was getting nothing done with my day. Now, the toys all stay in one room in the house, and if I don't have the time to clean up, I simply close the door."
Kids' social life: Due to Lauren's thriving business and regular travel, her husband is the twin's full-time caregiver. This arrangement means that her children don't attend mothers' groups and other regular activities. "These days, there's an expectation that children will attend playgroups and other planned events, but my children don't and I actually prefer it that way. Their social life is more unstructured than the average modern child – they have each other, they know the local postman and they meet all sorts of people, all the time. They learn how to be around other people -organically' and they are incredibly friendly and social."
Work calls: This can be every Mumpreneur's nightmare – finding space to conduct those all-important telephone calls and online meetings. Lauren has learned to accept, and express, the inevitable. "I have installed a translator booth in my home – literally, a semi-soundproof room so I have somewhere to do my work calls. But my kids still make noise – they sing and scream and that's perfectly okay. Stop pretending you're not a mum; stop pretending you're free to have some luxurious chat in a private space. What if it's okay to let people know that you have kids and that they'll hear childhood noise in the background?"
Travel: Lauren has clients and classes all over the world, and this can lead to confronting choices around building her business, or being there for her twins. "My kids are sad when I say goodbye, and there are times I have considered -should I not travel?' But when I looked at what that would mean, when I saw that making them temporarily happy is not going to be the best for us in the long-term, I chose to keep creating the business I truly desire. There are trips that I cancel or turn down, but I only do so if it feels right – not because I'm coerced by the kids, or pressured by the judgement of others."
Schedule: Sick children. Unreliable babysitters. Last minute emergencies. Trying to keep to a strict schedule with young children can be super stressful, but Lauren has another way of approaching her day. "My business life is chaotic, but I don't try to put order where there's chaos because chaos is where the creative energy is. Sometimes I have an idea of what I want to achieve in my day, but if it's not coming easily to me, I give up and try something else. I show up for my commitments, but otherwise I following the energy of my day."
Importantly, Lauren encourages Mumpreneurs to think about what they're teaching their children when they choose appearances over ambition. "I choose to create more for myself and my business, even though I may be judged as an -imperfect' mother; even though my life sometimes appears chaotic. I want my children to know that they don't ever have to give up any part of themselves to suit others, and I'm setting that example for them now."
Lauren Marie is a Joy of Business facilitator, acupuncturist, entrepreneur and mother of twins. She travels worldwide, facilitating classes and changing her clients' point of view about life, health and business. Born on the outskirts of Washington D.C., Lauren now lives on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. A passionate creator and conscious rule-breaker, Lauren seeks to inspire other mothers to see the possibilities others overlook and to embrace every challenge and choice that parenthood brings.
Question: Why do you believe Mumpreneurs feel they should always appear to be composed and in control?
Lauren Marie: Needing to prove that you are something, whether it is -in control' or -successful' or -composed,' comes from the internal belief that the opposite is actually true. If you are trying to appear in control it's because you feel out of control. If you want everyone to see you as composed, it's because inside everything is in chaos. You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to have everything just right. Allow yourself to be you, to do things your way. Ask, 'what's right about me?" And acknowledge all the things that you are doing and being that are great. Let life be messy, it's more fun that way! If you find yourself obsessing over tiny details, or having to have things be perfect, ask yourself: 'will this matter in five years time?" If not, choose to let it go.
Question: How does social media play a role in this perception?
Lauren Marie: What people post on social media is a glossed over pretty picture of their life, it's not reality. When you are judging your life against an image, you'll always come up short. It can appear as if someone has it all together, has the perfect relationship, kids that are never angry or rude, money flooding in from all directions; but what is really going on behind the scenes?
Question: How can we take this pressure off ourselves?
Lauren Marie: We need to stop looking through other people's eyes at ourselves and ask what is actually true for us. Every time you go to judge yourself, stop. Judging is a choice. Your point of view creates your reality. If you're judging you as not good enough, as never getting it right, as being a terrible mother, and so on, that's what you will get more of and that's what people will reflect back at you. Let people judge you however they judge you, but don't make it significant or real. You know you better than anyone. Trust in that and trust in you.
Question: What are some of the less-than-glamourous realities of being a Mumpreneur?
Lauren Marie: Let's face it, there are days when you will find yourself still un-showered and in your pyjamas at 5pm. Where did the day go? You've got 50 million things to get done in any given day, sometimes personal hygiene just doesn't make it to the top of your list! Kids waking you up in the middle of the night with nightmares, puking on you just before your video conference, or running into the room while you're trying to have a meeting to announce they have done a -poo on the potty,' are just a few examples any mumpreneur is likely familiar with!
Question: What has been your biggest challenge since becoming a Mumpreneur?
Lauren Marie: I'm very lucky to have a partner who stays home with the kids to allow me to work. However, this has put the majority of the burden to earn money for our whole family on my shoulders. So, I'd say that the biggest challenge has been to stay on top of our finances and grow our wealth fast enough to keep ahead of the growing needs of our family; while not sacrificing things that make us all happy like: living on the beach, having childcare, eating organic food, and traveling internationally.
Question: What's the best thing about being a Mumpreneur?
Lauren Marie: Getting to have it all! Setting my own schedule and being there to watch all the firsts as my kids have grown up has been priceless. Being able to work from home, spend lots of time with them and yet still be creative and successful is such a gift. I'm so grateful to have the ability to be a hands-on mum and still pursue my dreams as a career woman.
Question: What advice do you have for women who run their business, from home?
Lauren Marie: Give up your 'to-do" list and instead, when you wake up in the morning, ask: 'where does my attention need to be today?" Going with the flow of your day and following the energy will allow you to get way more done than sticking to a rigid schedule or ticking off boxes on a list. Give yourself three or four high priority tasks and make sure you get those done, and be willing to let the rest go. Create space before the kids wake up or after they go to bed that is just for you, to gather your thoughts and get clear on what is required for the following day and where your attention needs to be.
Question: Can you share your top tips for work/life balance when working from home?
Lauren Marie: I don't try to balance work and home life, as if they are separate things. I let it all be part of how I live. I've always been a big proponent of multi-tasking. Maybe that's why I had twins! When they were very small, I'd take them for a walk in the pram while I had teleconferences or listened to audio recordings of classes. I loved combining exercise, fresh air, work, and the kids' nap. Now, I might have my laptop out in their playroom while they get to climb all over me, sit in my lap while I'm working, or show me something they find very exciting! Of course there are times when I need to focus on work or the kids separately, but I allow each day to be created very organically, based on what is happening in the moment.
Question: What's a typical day like, for you?
Lauren Marie: I live in Australia and work with a lot of people all over the world, so I usually get up around 5 or 5:30 am, make a coffee and start working by 6 before the Europeans go to sleep. The best global times for meetings are our 6 or 7am so I hit the ground running, watching the sunrise! It's also my best time to clear my head and plan my day, before the kids wake up. Their dad usually gets up with them around 7:30 or 8 and takes care of them for a few hours while I work. I'll join them for lunch at midday and take over for a few hours, taking the kids out to run errands or for a swim in our pool. In the afternoon we have a sitter come take the kids to the beach or the park so both their dad and I can have a break for a couple of hours. Then I'll make dinner and do the nighttime routine, bathe and put the kids to bed. After the kids are asleep my husband and I get to have some time alone, when I don't have evening meetings or have to work late on a project. I'm an early bird, so I'll be asleep by 10pm at the latest most nights.
Interview by Brooke Hunter