Momtrepreneur: Excuses can only take you so far

Stay-at-Home vs Workings Mom

This week marks the first week in 19 years that I am not a school mom anymore.  My youngest has just received his Matric results and are on his way to university.  Add 4 years as a stay-at-home-mom and you have 23 years in total of almost always putting my kids first. It almost feels like it happened in another life where I have decided to quit my full-time job to be with my first-born daughter.  And boy did that change things up.  Was it worth it? I would like to hope so, but with most things in life there is always a debatable component.  From being a stay-at-home mom to a momtrepreneur to founder of a business or two, and a whole lot of extra roles in between.  The debate between working mom vs stay-at-home entrepreneur or momtrepreneur, as some might phrase it, is still not solved for me.

I became a mom right at the end of our previous millennium.  At the stage of leaving Computer Associates for maternity leave, I had all intentions of returning to work.  I even started a diploma in Information Technology in order to make the transition from marketing to technical.  But things changed drastically once my eldest was born.  Let’s say, Isabel was someone who knew what she wanted and made sure you knew if she did not agree with you.  (Not much has changed in 23 years.) 

The age old ideology

And then there was the ideology that staying at home with your babies was the very best thing you could do for your children.   From my family’s side as well as the in-laws, staying at home was the thing to do.  And if your job at the time entailed organising events for which you had to be at the office at 06:00 at least once a week or stay to the end of late-night events fairly often, matters were far from ideal for a brand-new mom.  So, I opted for the stay-at-home option and decided to be the very best stay-at-home mom I could possibly be.  While still studying.

Going into Overdrive

From baby massage classes to Moms-and-Tots workshops, as well as cake decoration and first-aid classes.  Don’t forget the swimming classes in between! Mix this up with becoming heavily involved with our church’s communications structure, cause doing newsletters and sharing information has been what I have done since school days.  And there is no denying that you should be involved with your church’s activities! 

iconomy SA wins best personnel at the 2013 Business Opportunity & Franchise Expo
Iconomy SA wins best personnel at 2013 Business opportunity & Franchise Expo

It did however not take long for friends and family asking me to help them with their presentations, adverts and all things marketing.  And this is where things got really interesting.

A stay-at-home mom to the max while also being a working-from-home mom.  I would never forget the Thursday afternoon in June 2004 when I was trying to make a deadline for Lake Umzuzi in Secunda while already in the early stages of labour.  Flip was born on Friday and by Monday I was back behind the computer.  I must admit, knowing how to handle your third baby is substantially easier than the first.

And then there was the night when we were crowned as the best personnel at the 2013 Business Opportunity & Franchise Expo when my whole life crumbled after the celebratory photos were taken!   With no time to feel sorry for yourself, you have to smile
and wave before the next days’ keynote presentation.

The Warning Signs

Getting up at two o’clock in the morning to get everything done became a fairly regular occurrence. A habit that lasted right through my divorce and into the era of owning and managing my own advertising and promotions agency. 

Looking back, I should have seen the warning signs.  The calamity is that if you are in the thick of things, the only way forward is to keep on moving.  We think we are OK.  We take pride in people praising us for having so much on our plate and still adding more.  So we add some more and tell the world we are prospering.


Saying goodbye for a year apart

Community Work to the Max

Did I mention that I also became heavily involved in our local Business Forum.  Bringing the old Alberton Sakekamer back from the dead, was a massive achievement to me.  Organising events with speakers such as Theuns Eloff, Christo van der Rheede, Ulrich Joubert and Arnold Mol was some of the highlights.  This all happened while helping my kids consistently reach Semi-finals for ATKV Redenaars and even a couple of ATKV National appearances.  That’s before we get to hockey, Eistedfod, cross-country and a host of extra activities.


Johan addressing a school in Limeira on ‘life in South Africa’ in Portuguese.

Absolutely crazy.  The sad part is that I see so many stay-at-home moms turned entrepreneurs that are burning themselves out in order to give the absolute best to their children.  Even with an au-pair at hand to assist when I became the single parent in the household, it was just way too much stress.  Being in a constant state of exhaustion should not be an accolade.  And I do believe that every mother, no matter how much she loves her children, should have dedicated moments where her work and her passions come first.

But let me interrupt myself for a moment here.  Yes, it is flippen amazing if your children do achieve success.  Watching them win speech and drama competitions is a highlight.  Spending time next to the hockey field when they play for their schools’ hockey team is a privilege.   Sending them off to far-off countries after being chosen to represent their country as Rotary Youth Exchange students was the pits.  

Putting myself first

Lots of photos.  Lots of memories. But did I afford enough time for my career to develop and flourish?  If I am totally honest, there was always an element of the kids come first and once they are sorted, I could spend time on my work passions:  to help more entrepreneurs succeed in their businesses. 

With the risk of sounding self-obsessed, I do believe we do owe it to ourselves as female entrepreneurs to take stock at regular intervals.  To ensure that we do not lose sight of who we are as individuals.

Business adventures in scoring the winning goal

From our children’s perspective

In the end our own success plays a major part in the perception that our children have of us. I do believe that this is where our moms who have opted to be corporate working moms have an advantage or two.

Once our children leave the nest, it is so vitally important that as a female entrepreneur or momtrepreneur, you have built a structure strong enough to sustain yourself going forward.

Ditch the debate. Ditch the excuses.

I am now officially not a school mom anymore.  Regardless of whether I made the correct decision 23 years ago or not, it is time to continue conquering the world.  This time on my terms.

It’s time to help even more entrepreneurs make wise decisions for their businesses to prosper.  To help them to share their story with the world ad infinitum.  Our stories can make a difference to someone somewhere.

No more excuses.  

Christel Rosslee-Venter - Business Coach for Entrepreneurs - Skydive

Christél Rosslee-Venter is a passionate brand activator for entrepreneurs. With a career spanning 30 years in the marketing and communication industry, Christél and her AddVenture team can help you to get your brand flying and your sense of business adventure rejuvenated. From planning to execution and beyond. And we love sharing South African entrepreneur success stories! Pop over to Expedition Business to find out more.

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