By Leah McHenry
How I "Do It All": Running Multiple Businesses As a Creative Entrepreneur With Five Kids
The Secret To Organized Chaos 😀
You may have stumbled upon my blog or social media and might also be wondering how on earth I have time for three businesses (plus possibly helping you!) AND homeschool my 5 kids. I get this question on a weekly basis, so I think it's time for a post!
This will be short and sweet. As I learn new things, I'll edit this post and add to it.
For context, our kids are currently ages 6, 9, 11, 13 & 14. The big thing we're mainly dealing with here is how to get focused time when you're working from home, and also time management. If I missed any important topics, please let me know in the comments and I'll add on!
Leah's 10 Commandments for Creative Entrepreneurs With Kids
1) Work in Seasons. I'm not doing all things at all times. That's impossible, and trust me, I'm FAR from superwoman. For example, in 2020, I took a full break from my music career to work on my candle business. Something has to give. If you're working on a new business, you need to go all-in. Don't dabble. That means something else has to come off your plate. It's not forever. You can also change your mind. Don't stress about it.
2) Kids Must Contribute. My kids contribute a great deal to the household chores and that gives me more time for other things, while also instilling in them ownership and worth ethic. I haven't done dishes or laundry or a full house cleaning for a very long time - because my kids have "family contributions" they're fully responsible for! I don't ask for perfection, I ask for effort. We are trying to instill an 'excellence mindset', while also not holding them to impossible standards. At this stage of life, I'm happy the basics are done - there's bigger fish to fry!
3) Don't Manage Your Time. For the past several years I've struggled with extreme adrenal insufficiency (my body has stopped making cortisol), so many days I deal with very low energy all day long. Because of that, I don't manage my time -- instead, I manage my energy. The difference is that I don't adhere to a schedule based around when it's a good time in the day to do things according to the calendar. I do things according to how long my "battery" will last. Certain things give me energy and light me up, and others completely drain me. I plan accordingly.
4) Prioritize Your Day. Following up on the last point, when you're a creative entrepreneur, you need to manage your energy and then prioritize your tasks based on that. I personally feel most creative and energetic in the morning. My brain slows down considerably after 3pm. Family-first is a big priority for me. We have a loose routine that we follow and I allow for many variables (when you have a large family that's how it goes).
If I have really time-sensitive work to get done, or I am taking new courses or educating myself, I get up earlier and spend 1-2 hours before my kids need me. Sometimes, if I have energy, I'll return to it in the afternoon. But oftentimes, I take a nap, we go for a walk, I help my kids make dinner, or I'm playing video games (I know, weird mom, right?) to try and balance out my brain from thinking about heavy things.
5) Meal Planning (Sort of). Ok, we are not the most disciplined with this, but we are getting better at it. We have a couple of go-to cookbooks and have our favorites picked out. I have a loose meal-of-the-day printed out on the fridge so we have something to go off of. We use our Instant Pot almost daily. When we're doing great, we batch-cook meat in our Instant Pot, like pulled chicken, and then use it for lunches, salads, sandwiches, pasta, stir-fry, and other dishes. Batching anything we can on Sundays has worked well for us. Also - order your groceries online whenever you can - it saves a ton of time and you don't accidentally get extra things 🙂
6) Prep The Kids. On days where I have important team meetings, or I need absolutely NO interruptions, I make sure everyone knows. I sit them down, I tell them what I'm doing and for how long. We go over what everyone's activities are going to be while I'm in the meeting. Once everyone agrees, I do my meeting/important activity. Usually, this works! Occasionally there might be an issue where someone interrupts me. Instead of being totally annoyed, I try to be thankful that I'm home with them and that I'm HERE when they needed me (but it's difficult, I'll admit it!).
7) Red, Yellow, Green. We're training our kids to be good "babysitters" as well as leaders and followers. Something that has been quite fun that we've been doing is when we are busy working, each one of them gets a turn to be the "leader/babysitter" and they get to call all the shots! Yes, even the six-year-old gets a turn. The caveat is that they get to be rated on how good of a job they did. Red means they were bossy and mean. Yellow means they had a moment or two where maybe they were a bit unreasonable and Green means they were polite, kind, and good leaders. The other caveat is the babysitter gets to rate the others too! It's fun, and they all like this game, which encourages peace while we're working.
8) Interest-Led Learning. We've been home educating our kids since the beginning. I've tried a few different styles of homeschooling, and what's working for our life right now is called unschooling. We use a little bit of structure and then we're heavy on interest-led-learning. They aren't left to themselves by any stretch. Aside from basic reading, writing, and basic arithmetic, we let them explore the topics that are interesting to them so they can go deep on those topics and become experts. This is a GREAT educational lifestyle for an entrepreneurial family.
9) Be Transparent. Talk business around the kids! We don't hide anything. We're always discussing our challenges, what we want in life, what we don't want, tough situations like having to let someone go, hiring new people, our roles, new products, what was frustrating about working with X company, etc. They even see the natural husband-wife friction that comes with working together and also witness us figuring it out, with a big hug and smooch at the end of it. They see it all and I believe it's going to help prepare them for the real world. Anything that's not appropriate or more serious, we save for when they aren't around, but I like the idea of creating an environment of "always learning" as they see mom and dad picking up a new book every week, discussing business at the dinner table, and celebrating the wins together too.
10) Humility. Our kids see both our successes and our very real humanity. They know we are finite beings. My kids have seen me filled with energy when we've hit a million dollars, and they've seen me where I was in bed half the day because I had no energy and could barely function. Something I tell them is that God gave us 24 hours in a day for a reason. He purposefully gave us LIMITATIONS. He knows we need limitations and even thrive on those limitations.
God is also the one who gives us the ability/power to attain wealth.
"You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day." Duet 8:18
We are stewards of it. So we live our lives, knowing that everything we have, He gave us. And he did that so that we can glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. Humility also means ENJOYING the fruits of our labor.
"Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart."
I hope that was insightful as to how I live my life with multiple ventures and multiple kids!
Did I miss anything? Do you have any tips to add? I've love to hear them in the comments below!
Meet Leah: Starving artist to millionaire in 12 months. Overcoming a past of pain, a poverty mindset, and lack of business education, Leah went on to create multiple businesses into the high six and multiple seven figures. Aside from her passion for being a wife, and mother to her five children, she's also a well-known recording artist in the Symphonic Metal genre, lover of freedom, free-market capitalism, and follower of Jesus.