If the Container Store and an Excel spreadsheet had a child, it would be Kate Rosenow. Her Type A personality and love for organization helped her streamline and scale her first business. Now, she helps other business owners find freedom and flexibility through Work Well With Kate.
But it wasn’t until Kate welcomed her first child that she realized just how instrumental these practices would be. Her meticulous organizational processes — and flexibility — were critical in achieving balance between her new family life and continuing to helm a successful business. Faced with societal expectations of motherhood and entrepreneurship, Kate decided to focus on what mattered: doing what she loved, with and for the people she loved.
I spoke with Kate about how she successfully balances her roles as a business owner and as a parent, the unapologetic attitude that helps her prioritize what matters most, and the importance of automation and delegation in making life easier.
As a business owner, how did you prepare yourself and your company for motherhood?
When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately started thinking about how my business needed to adjust to accommodate this new part of my life. Before that, I was able to fully focus on my work and my clients, but now I was going to have a tiny human who was completely dependent on me. Even though I already had systems and processes in place in my business, I knew things were going to have to change.
One of the first things I did was talk to my team. We discussed our current roles and responsibilities and started to make a plan to delegate and outsource the tasks on my plate. Next, we made a plan for communicating the news to our clients and setting expectations for what our work together would look like moving forward. After those conversations, I knew my team was more than capable of handling everything while I was gone.
The most important part of this process was making sure my team and my clients felt supported and confident in their work while I was on maternity leave and that day-to-day administrative work was running on autopilot.
What’s the biggest challenge you currently face as an entrepreneur and new mom?
The realization that it’s impossible to give 100% to your business and your baby at the same time. Compromises are going to have to be made.
If I’m having a really great day at work, it probably means I missed out on playtime with my son. If I’m having a great day at home with my son, it probably means there are a few emails waiting for me that I didn’t get to answer.
Even though it was a tough pill to swallow, I also realized that I wouldn’t want to give up either part of my life and that none of us should have to. I love being a business owner and collaborating with women to solve problems in their work, and I love raising my child and being his mom.
I have to continually remind myself that I’m going to be in a state of constant compromise — and that’s okay.
What would you like to tell women who are also wearing both of those hats?
Do whatever you need to do to prioritize your own sanity. Need to reschedule a meeting because you were up all night with a sick child? Do it. Need to turn on a YouTube video for your child so they can be entertained while you wrap up some work? Do it.
Society puts so many “shoulds” and impossible expectations on mothers, and striving to do it all perfectly can be crippling. If you can, try your best to drown out all of the other opinions and feedback, and focus on what is best for you and your specific situation. Because the truth is that if you aren’t taking care of yourself and your sanity, you can’t really take care of anyone else.
Also, mom guilt is very real and keeps us from doing what we need to do to feel like ourselves. My go-to question is, “Would my husband feel guilty about this?” If not, then me neither — my husband gets ready and looks great every day, so if I want to take time to get ready, I’m doing it.
What tips or recommendations do you have for women who are looking to pursue both entrepreneurship and motherhood?
When you have more demands on your time, you have to clarify what the priorities are and how you want to spend your time. I frequently ask myself, “If I only had 4 hours to work today, what’s the best way to spend my time?”
Allow yourself to receive help and make things easier. In our house, we outsource grocery shopping, home repairs, cleaning, and more — run the numbers and see how much time and money you’re saving. We also automate any task we can, bill payments, scheduling events, and subscriptions for our most-used home items. In my business, I do the same thing — I automate and outsource everything I hate doing, can’t do, or shouldn’t be spending my time on.
Also, people-pleasing is canceled: if someone isn’t paying you or in a relationship with you, they should not be making demands on your time or mental load.
Most importantly, your child having an example of a happy and fulfilled mama is more important than doing everything “right” and being the perfect mom by society’s standards.