Mompreneurs: The Modern-day Superhero

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Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 07/14/2021, 9:22 PM
Edited: 07/14/2021, 10:49 PM

(NATIONAL) When she became a mom, Katie Dalrymple knew her family would always come first. But that didn’t stop her from having a career, as well. 

“For years and years, just thinking, this is the way it’s supposed to be, but feeling guilty constantly about how anything that my children would need would, it’s almost like it had to come last,” Dalrymple said.  

When her organization refused to accommodate Dalrymple’s nursing needs for third child, her supply dried up three months in. Care for her family and working outside of the home continued to battle for her time. She was ultimately fired. 

In 1989, sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild published a wildly popular book called “The Second Shift” about women working full-time then coming home for a second shift of caregiving and household work. 

(It is important to note here for anyone who does not have children, particularly young children, that parenting and household work are not really a one-shift deal. Each is its own separate shift, sometimes, for the gifted, completed simultaneously.) 

Following “The Second Shift”, several articles and books from various authors have been published detailing the so-called “third shift”. These shifts include obtaining a degree or certification in higher education, providing informal healthcare to family members, “thinking work” such as family planning, scheduling and problem solving, and the “perfectionist” shift, exacerbated by social media comparisons. 

“We see the Pinterest moms who do these great projects and these great meals, and we see people on Facebook doing these fun activities with their kids,” Laura Koval, owner of AbleVeg, told VNN. “And at the end of the day, we’re like, oh I don’t have a picture of my child smiling from the last two weeks because we’ve all just barely been getting through the day.” 

Thus, it is more likely working moms are managing four or five different shifts a week. For mompreneurs, or working mom entrepreneurs, that shift load is even greater: business planner, marketing and advertising specialist, media manager, accountant, secretary, tech support, customer service representative.

Despite the extra shifts, Dalrymple’s termination was a great opportunity to set out on her own. 

She now owns CrankEngine and Tulsa Lifeguard Pro.

“Doing this and setting up my businesses in such a way where I can be a mom and feel confident and not guilty about being a mom and taking them to their appointments or making it to soccer practice or whatever I need to do to be their mom, it fits now where it didn’t before,” Dalrymple said. 

Women, mom or not, matter a lot to the labor force. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of working women has hung around 58 to 59 percent of all women for the last 20 years. At last check, the percentage of men who work is about 71. That’s only about a 12 percent difference between the two sexes. 

The female share of the labor force is expected to peak at 47.1 percent in 2025. That’s nearly half. 

But these estimations were made before the pandemic. 

Researchers found during the pandemic, moms were more than three times as likely as fathers to be responsible for most of the housework and caregiving, and 1.5 times more likely than fathers to be spending an additional three or more hours per day on housework and childcare. 

Koval said this year has been absolutely brutal. 

“Working and having a child with me full-time was horribly difficult,” Koval said. “It was one of those things to be up at six and then me going to bed at midnight. Because after the kids were in bed I would have to work until then. And so, it felt, it was very overwhelming. It was really hard.” 

The same study found more than one in four women are thinking about downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce altogether.

That’s if they haven’t already. In January 2020, 20.1 million US moms were actively working. One year later, that number fell to 18.5 million. 1.6 million moms had left the labor force. 

Still, being a solely stay-at-home mom is not common. 

“They’re the unicorns of humanity to me” Koval said.Because that’s the most demanding job you can do is be there for your young person all the time. I wouldn’t even be bringing the best version of myself for my kids if I did that, and I think that for a mom that’s a really hard thing to feel.” 

The truth of the matter is most moms feel compelled to some kind of paid work, and they have passion for doing things in addition to than taking care of kids and the home. 

Another recent study found the percentage of employed moms rose from 51 percent of moms in 1968 to 72 percent of moms in 2019. And only 19 percent of women surveyed said it’d be best for them to not do paid work. 

Yet a majority of Americans still think mom needs to be taking care of the kids the most. 76 percent said working full time is ideal for fathers, but only 33 percent said working full time is ideal for mothers. 

Licensed counselor Alexie Foster said these views cause mothers to feel like they are neglecting their children by doing paid work, commonly referred to as “mom guilt”.

“Honestly, what kids need is just 20 minutes a day of really good quality bonding time,” Foster said. 

A lot of moms don’t want to choose between having kids and doing paid work. But while working moms are jockeying for their spots in the labor force, mompreneurs are more like little fish swimming in a big ocean of society-backed men. 

In 2019, women-owned businesses generated $1.9 trillion.

Despite this, dollars to female-only founders fell from 2.8 percent in 2019 to 2.3 percent in 2020. 

US startups raised a record amount of money in 2020, but funding to venture-backed companies founded solely by women dropped 22 percent.

All the successful mompreneurs we talked to had one thing in common- a supportive partner. Obviously, they’re not getting a lot of support anywhere else. 

I am married,” Dalrymple said. “He is great. He’s super helpful, and for me that is huge.” 

Shelby Swanson owns Sona Coffee. She said she is all too familiar with female stereotypes and struggles unique to mom entrepreneurs. 

“I feel so blessed because my husband is such a support,” Swanson said. “If he’s home with her, he equally takes care of her. But I know that’s something not all women get to experience. And so, some women who have businesses are single moms and caring for their children and balancing that and finding childcare. Even with men who do step up, it’s not as expected that this is on them to figure out.” 

That’s one of the reasons being an entrepreneur is even harder on Black moms, 56 percent of whom are raising children solo. That’s compared to 26 percent of Hispanic moms that are single moms, and 17 percent of white moms that are single moms. 

So, what else can mompreneurs do to stay gritty in the game and maintain their sanity? 

First, some grace. Experts say just because you wear multiple hats, doesn’t mean you have to wear them all every day. 

Set aside each day for a particular hat. Like Business Management Monday or Website Wednesdays. Compartmentalizing tasks does wonders to take the pressure off everything you are trying to accomplish at once. 

“Letting go of the idea of perfection, and that I’m not going to get all the laundry done, the house is not going to be picked up half the time, the meals are not going to be as healthy, and I’m not going to be where I want to be with my business every day,” Koval said. “And that’s okay.” 

“I’ve gotten better at recognizing when I’m over my limits right away, and not staying there too long,” Foster said. “I have to be flexible and be open to switching things around as needed. Because every week is different. Every month is different.” 

Next, find your community. 

Stephanie Gilbert wrote a piece called “The Importance of Community and Mental Health” for National Alliance on Mental Illness. In it she said community provides many elements that are critical to mental health, but three of the most beneficial aspects are belonging, support and purpose. 

Speaking to purpose specifically, Gibert said people fill different roles in a community. 

“Perhaps you’re the friend who enjoys cooking and can be counted on to bring a hot meal over when someone is going through something,” Gilbert said. “Or you’re the friend who others know they can call when they need to talk about their struggles. These roles can give you a sense of purpose through bettering other people’s lives. Having purpose, and helping others, helps give meaning to life.” 

Thus, it can be said, women aren’t meant to play every community role by themselves. Instead, for the sake of your mental health, it is best to find a community of other people to lean on and share roles with, particularly those who enjoy roles or excel at roles you do not. 

Get away. A staycation would good. A vacation would be better. Experts say just planning a vacation releases the same feel-good chemicals in your brain that are released while actually taking one. Your business will survive.

And perhaps most importantly, take a break. 

“Owning a business and raising kids, you’re doing simultaneous,” Foster said. “But you’re doing two things that you’ve never done before, and those are two really big things that you’ve never done before.” 

The phrase “self-care” has long since become buzzworthy, with plenty of moms rolling their eyes at the idea of picking up yet another shift, but professional counselor Alexie Foster says women really need to take that time- and make it a habit. 

“You can know a thing, but you don’t have a neural pathway to do that thing yet, right?” Foster said.

“You got to start small and have lots of repetition. Lots of repetition. It takes 21 times to do something new before it doesn’t feel awkward. How many of us actually give it that good push to 21 times? We barely ever make it to the 21. We usually peter out around 14. And then it takes 200 times of doing a thing before it’s on auto pilot. If you’ve lived your life as an overachiever, it’s really hard to break that habit.” 

What problems have you overcome as a mompreneur? What do you love most about being a mompreneur? Let us know in the comments below!


Ann Marie Worthley
07/15/2021, 5:06 PM

Great story!!