Startup Energy

Before I moved to suburbia, my family lived in Jersey City. My older girls were admitted to a charter school there that many parents recommended. Shortly after their acceptance, I started getting a stream of messages asking parents to paint the walls of the school on weekends.  It was amazing to see the grass roots efforts parents were putting in to make the school a success.

But after getting a few of those emails, I realized that the day when I actually had time to paint the walls was never going to come, no matter how much I tried to rearrange my life. With three small kids and one on the way–as well as a new freelance business–I often needed to catch up on work on the weekends. I didn’t have room in my life to be part of another startup. It was around that time that my husband and I got serious about moving to a town with a great, well-established public school system.

I shared this story recently with another self-employed mother, who runs a professional services firm, and also moved to suburbia around the same time. She, too, has found it to be a tremendous relief to live in a town where, for instance, the elementary school play has been going on for years and doesn’t require a massive startup effort by parents.”My business is a startup,” she said. “My family is a startup.” She recognizes that, although she works from home part of the time, she doesn’t have time to launch something like an annual school play, too.

Many of us try freelancing because we like to work on our own terms, without adhering to rigid corporate policies about when and where we work. But my friend’s comments reminded me that bringing some structure into other areas of our lives, whether that means finding a great school for our kids or hiring someone to do the books in our business, can free us to accomplish more of our top priorities.

Startups are a lot of fun and often very worthy, but there are only so many that each of us can handle at one time.




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