It’s hard balancing motherhood and travel with running an online business.
If you’re a mother and a business owner, you may find yourself putting your child in daycare a couple of days a week so you can work in peace (but getting chastised from family members who think you shouldn’t put your child in daycare because you “work from home.”)
Or if you’re a traveler, you may find yourself stressed trying to plan flights and itineraries, find Airbnb’s, and learn greetings in a new language while also running an online business.
Today’s guest, Alarice Stuart, is the owner of a design studio called Brand Babes Studio. She’s also a single parent to a toddler, a podcast host, and a regular traveler.
In this episode and article, she shares:
Why she believes work/life balance is a myth
Her top 3 tips for avoiding burnout
How to make time for your passions even when you’re busy being a mum and running a business
Why you shouldn’t feel guilty about putting your child in daycare while you work
Click “play” on the podcast player at the top of this post (or read on) to learn how she does it all!
Is Work Life Balance a Myth?
Nesha: I am so pumped to talk with you today. I feel like I've known you forever because you joined my course, Organize & Automate, when it first came out and we talk all the time in my DM's. So I'm super excited to be able to turn this conversation into a real one.
I know that you not only run your design studio and you travel a lot. But you also have a podcast and you blog. You even wrote a book about living and working in Bali and you do it all as a single parent to a toddler. So you seem like Wonder Woman right now, like super balanced. But was there ever a time when it wasn't so balanced for you?
Alarice: I'm so not balanced. It's so interesting that you talk about that idea of balance because I remember even when I started my podcast. I would ask all guests about this concept of balance and the more that I would interview people, the more I realized that the idea of balance is kind of a myth. And so for me, I don't call it balance now. I think the kind of latest way that I thought about my life was that it's integrated. My Money Maker just works along with my life. So my money maker, which is my business, actually is set up in a way to support my life. So as much as it seems like I'm doing lots of things, it's actually easier than me working a nine-to-five and being a solo parent at the same time. That's actually really hard. It gives me so much anxiety as opposed to what my life is now. My business supports my life, not the other way around.
Nesha: I feel like if you're doing something you enjoy, it doesn't feel like you are crazily busy if you have got a lot of different things going on because it becomes a part of you and it becomes one of the things that you enjoy spending time on.
Alarice: I remember watching this YouTube video of Gary Vee and he was talking about how he obviously is notorious for working lots and lots of hours a day, but he also spoke about the fact that he works all these hours because energetically it fills him, but if you ask him to walk to the end of the room and take down that painting, he would burn out. That’s not to say that I agree with his concept of working all the time. I don't. But I believe if you're doing things that energetically feel good, you never feel burnt out.
But in saying that, I think as much as I do what I love, it's easy to become a slave to your own business, especially when it's something that you love. So I think to have an integrated life, you need to have boundaries.
Having Boundaries & Healthy Habits
Nesha: I 100% agree. I think that you can get to a point where you enjoy your work so much, you do become a slave to it. And you end up spending way too many hours behind a laptop and it becomes unhealthy. You have to remember to get out from behind the laptop.
Alarice: I think it's just about developing healthy habits and giving yourself the permission to have a break. It's funny… when you become a business owner, you can just work 24/7. It's so easy to slip into that.
Nesha: You have to be really careful and set boundaries for yourself. I really find it helpful to give myself working hours. So usually it's between the hours of 9 and 5 and then I'll stop working at 5 p.m. And just give myself the evening to do everything else life-related or relaxing. I find it's so, so helpful to give myself work hours.
But at the same time, we are the boss. We have the freedom to do whatever we want with our businesses. So if you do want to work on evenings instead of mornings or something, you can totally do that. If that’s when you have the most energy and feel the most passionate about doing your work, go for it.
Alarice: Totally. I am such a night person. But recently I wanted to challenge myself and challenge that story that I keep telling myself, that “I’m a night person.” So I started waking up between about five and six in the morning and then forcing myself to work and that just felt so unnatural. But after a while, it's been amazing. And now I'm kind of getting up earlier telling myself like okay, you're going to do work earlier on in the day and then you can sit and watch Netflix at night. Which is something I never did before so and I think sometimes it's nice to switch it up and refresh your routine.
That's the beauty of running your own business: you have flexibility to do that, but you have to set boundaries. I think that's the key thing.
How to Make Time for Your Passions When You’re Already Balancing a Business and Motherhood
Nesha: You have a lot of responsibilities (like running a business and being a solo parent) and yet you still manage to prioritize your passion, which is travel. In fact, you wrote such a good ebook on how to live in Bali and work from Bali! How have you created a business that gives you this freedom to travel?
Alarice: The more that I've traveled, the better I’ve become at running a business and traveling at the same time. When I did my first trip away and had the business, I would just not book clients for the periods I knew that I was away.
Whereas this year has been a bit different. I've got to ramp up before I go to get my work done so that I can ramp down and relax while traveling. Then I'm not having to check emails and I can actually switch off. So you just get better at balancing traveling work the more you do it.
Having a remote business and traveling is kind of blowing up in a way, but it's still a new concept. We're all still kind of navigating the whole idea of it. So, I think if you want to do something and it’s important to you, you prioritize it and I think that's just what I've done with travel.
Travel is my non-negotiable in life because it fills me up and makes me happy and it makes me really productive in my business. It keeps me really motivated in my business when I go through tough times or doing the not-so-fun business stuff. The stuff that people don't want to talk about, the kind of unsexy side to being an entrepreneur.
I always remind myself that my business allows me to do what I love - travel - and that helps me get through the tough stuff.
How to Avoid Burnout
Nesha: What are your top three tips for avoiding burnout?
Alarice: My number one is definitely giving yourself the permission to just take a day off which is difficult as a business owner. Or even giving yourself the permission to take an hour off or giving yourself the permission to do something for yourself, like go get a message or catch up with a girlfriend for lunch or do something that kind of fills your cup up that's outside of your business. I think it's very important. I think you have to be really honest about knowing when you're about to burn out. DON’T push through. Say to yourself, I'm going to take the next day off.
I have a monkey mind or something… like a hamster trapped in my brain. My mind just doesn’t stop thinking. So I’m trying structured journaling because sometimes I just need to brain dump. I just write out all my ideas because it’s just really good to get it out of my head.
Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I feel overwhelmed because I've got so much to do so. I'm kind of like, all right. I'm just going to write literally every single thing I need to do even if it's not business stuff, like absolutely everything, and then I look at it and I'm like, okay, what's actually practical here and what's actually important? If I ignore all these other things and I just do one thing that's really important, that's actually going to be better than trying to get on top of my to-do list for the sake of it.
I don't believe in to-do lists anymore. I think my perspective has changed. So now I only do things that actually move the needle forward. And I'll ignore everything else. So if it means that I'm not checking my email for an entire day, that's what I'm going to do.
We run online businesses, we're not saving lives. We’re not doctors. So if we don't answer an email for a day or two, it's actually okay. I think we can quite easily put a lot of unrealistic expectations on ourselves and it's like… would I put that expectation on my son? No, so why am I putting it on myself?
I think also especially if you sell services to clients, it's actually important to not respond to clients straight away. What I find is it's actually important to let clients know that as clients you’re our number one priority, but we'll get back to you within 24 hours because we've mapped out the entire project, you can see it clearly in Asana (our project management tool.) If you need something urgent, these are our contact details. But if you're sending us an email or message, will get back to you within 24 hours. More often than not, we get back to them within a few hours.
But I think good to set those boundaries and also not respond to clients outside of the business hours that you've set. It’s fine for you to sit in your bed at eleven o clock and write the reply if you want, but don't send it. Send it within your business hours. Otherwise, you're not actually communicating boundaries with your clients. And I think when boundaries are blurred, it can create a really messy client and freelancer kind of relationship.
People respect people who put up boundaries.
And so yeah, it's I think that's like a really important thing as well.
Nesha: I teach the same thing in my online course and I was talking to one of my course students the other day and she said that she is pretty sure that her last client hired her because of the boundaries she set with him from the start.
Alarice: That makes you look like a bigger company or look more professional! And I think as smaller businesses, it's important to play big while you're small.
Nesha: Clients will be way more willing to work with you if you show them how professional you are and part of that professionalism includes having boundaries. Like a larger business would have.
How to Balance Motherhood with Running an Online Business
Nesha: We mentioned briefly that you're a parent. You have an adorable toddler. If you could give one tip to parents who are trying to balance parenting with freelancing, what would it be?
Alarice: Get rid of the concept of guilt. I think mainly mums go through this and I think it's largely because of social media and comparison, because people are very judgmental. And I think people find it very easy to pass negative comments towards mums. But remove the guilt and just do what you need to do.
So I'll give you an example. When I started the business, I didn't have my son and daycare and I used to try and juggle starting my business with spending time with him and I wasn't being present in either and I think that's why it took me so long to actually really set up this business. So that's why I say I only really started it last April, but have had it kind of set up for the last two years.
If you need to put your child in child care or need to get a babysitter on the weekends for the first three months… Do it because it's only a small period of time and you're not ruining your kids. It's fine.
Remember what your business does to actually help your family. Instead of having guilt around putting your child in daycare sometimes, realize what you're creating for your family. Do what you have to do. You don’t need to give up your business.
Nesha: To wrap up this conversation, tell us - what is your definition of success?
Alarice: It's having more time to love. I don't think we were made to work more than we are to live and success for me is just living completely in alignment. Doing things that I want to do and living the way that I want to. To me, success is not money. It's not even this concept of freedom. Like what even is that? I think it's just making sure that the life you live, the people that you surround yourself with and how you spend your time is in alignment with what you actually want.
More From This Episode
Meet Today’s Guest
Alarice Stuart is a Squarespace Designer with a background in Branding. She founded Brand Babes Studio, a remote branding agency where she worked with Brands both big and small such as Air New Zealand, Two Islands Co, Match Made Skin & Rhye Intimates.
Clients say there’s two things she is great at - taking all the things out of their head to create an actionable plan & crafting killer websites that convert.
More From Nesha
Hey there! I’m Nesha, the host of The Simple Business Show. I teach solopreneurs how to organize and simplify their business so they can do less and earn more. When I’m not podcasting or helping my course students, you’ll find me sipping caramel lattes in Starbucks, binge-watching This Is Us or traveling the world with my backpack and my laptop!
Looking for more ways I can help you? Here they are:
Organize & Automate - Use my premium course to organize your entire service-based business in just two weeks (on the side of your regular routine!) so you can stop stressing and fall back in love with your business.
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