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How to Cope With the Stress of Being a New Mother and an Entrepreneur

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For women entrepreneurs on the cusp of success, the notion of starting a family can be overwhelming. According to The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute, women will generate over half of the 9.72 million new small business jobs expected to be created by 2018. So how will those who choose to be mothers manage life both at home and on the job?

I connected with Sashka Rothchild, founder and CEO of Standbuy, a crowdfunding platform for people going through cancer treatment, to learn how she balances being a new mother and a social entrepreneur.

Rothchild founded Standbuy after losing her mother to brain cancer. She launched Standbuy to provide a focused, supportive, and easy-to-use platform that would allow others to focus on healing instead of worrying about financial issues. Through her personal and professional experiences, she learned how simple strategies can ease the stress of taking on the world with baby in tow.

1. Stamina is key.

I asked Rothchild how she managed to balance the development of Standbuy with being pregnant or later, as a new mother. She told me in an email that in the beginning it was less about balance and more about stamina. She said she felt behind “all the time,” but advice from a friend made her realize that she needed to focus on long-term goals and on getting as much done as her body would allow each day.

“Did I have expectations that weren’t met because I was throwing up in the morning, or because I was unable to meet people out for business discussions over wine because I had a human inside me? Yes,” she said. Rothchild admits that she ultimately made things work by pushing through each day and not “quitting” when things became difficult.

“It [progress] may have been slower than I wanted, things may have been harder physically and emotionally, but it was a thousand percent more satisfying to find out what I am truly capable of than to just give up,” she said.

2. Raise your hand.

Rothchild urges other female social entrepreneurs — who are simultaneously building a business and raising young children — to ask for help when necessary.

“Every time I feel worried that asking for help or ‘admitting’ that I can’t do it all by myself will make me ‘look bad’ (like when I can’t make a meeting because I have to be home with my sick 18-month-old), I think about what I would want my kid to do if he was in a bind or needed help: I would want him to be bold and raise his hand. I run a business that’s overarching goal is to help people ask for help when they feel most vulnerable. If I can’t walk the walk, then game over.”

3. Get time on your side.

When Rothchild’s son was first born she admits that her life became extremely chaotic. “I tried to answer emails when he slept, I took conference calls with him strapped to me in the Ergo, I had very little help and I was just trying to keep all, if not most of the balls, in the air,” she said.

Soon she realized that childcare was necessary and that she would need to work fewer, but more consistent hours.

“The consistency of knowing that I am always able to schedule calls and meetings Monday through Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. is one less piece of my calendar that I have to manage. I also have to consciously and continuously try to manage the guilt of him [her son] being watched and cared for by people other than me during parts of the week.”

4. Strategize.

Rothchild relies on certain strategies to stay focused and present, and to ensure that her personal well-being is made an equal priority to her business and family.

“If you are sitting at your computer, staring at the screen, and can’t seem to get into your work groove — sleep, go on a walk, get a $10 manicure. You cannot focus if you are running on fumes. It is not only OK to take a break and recharge, it is imperative to your success.”

She believes that entrepreneurs succeed by staying committed and by taking baby steps: “if you can find at least three things to ‘get done’ every day, you will keep moving things forward,” she said.

Lastly, she suggests not buying into the “old paradigm that everything should be hard, painful, and brutal, and if you aren’t working 10 to 12 hours a day you aren’t doing it right.” She continues: “You are in charge of how you run your company, you are in charge of how you parent, you are in charge of making the rules. Do You.”

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