I found myself having a conversation with my 13-year-old son, letting him know that I can only spend time with him and his three-year-old sister after I have completed a work project.
This sometimes happens because my workload as an entrepreneur has increased, so I inform him ahead of time that I will be busy, and I need him to understand this.
My son is used to it now because he trusts that when I am done, I will attend to them. I always make sure that I do not let them down – if I make a promise, I make sure I keep it.
I’ve learned that communicating with him like this develops trust.
What it’s like being a full-time working mom and entrepreneur
I have a full-time job as an administrator during the day and after-hours, I’m an entrepreneur.
I’m the founder of a skin and hair care products business.
Most of my weekdays are hectic. When I get home after work, I must prepare supper for the kids, spend some time with them until it is bedtime. Once they are in bed, I start crafting our skin and hair care products with the assistance of my helper.
Some weekends I dedicate to my children, especially if it is one of their birthdays or when there is an important event happening in their lives such as a school sports day.
Some weekends I spend half a day with them and thereafter start working on our products. On some weekends you’ll find me at a local market, promoting and selling my products.
It’s a continuous juggle. And believe me, there are times when I feel truly guilty that I do not spend much time with my children. This is why I am intentional about spending my free moments (from my work) with my family, I dedicate it to them so that we can spend some quality time together. It is all about being intentional.
To me it is also important for my children to learn that in life one must work hard to achieve one’s goals.
How my business started
My business was born as a result of the hair problems I had.
I would watch how my hairline receded, and my hair was thinning. I must have inherited my mother’s skill to mix natural herbs for remedies because I started experimenting with the herbs on my own. After a lot of experimentation and research, I came up with a beautiful blend of natural ingredients to use for my hair.
I began to see visible results and soon enough, friends and family were asking me to make the products for them too. This led to us creating an entire range of natural and wholesome skin and hair care products and the rest as they say, is history.
A friend of mine suggested that I use the name Azrah, it means ‘a beautiful pearl in heaven.’ It’s an Arabic name.
Motherhood makes me more intentional
Being a mom has helped me to manage my time better, I can multitask way better than I used to. I have also learnt that time is too precious to waste.
When I have family time, I switch off completely. I think this is very important to be completely present as when I am busy with work my family accommodates me. They understand that mommy is busy, and she cannot be disturbed during that time. So, when I decide to spend time with them, I put work aside.
Because I’m a DIY enthusiast, I take time to get my kids involved in activities like baking. When baking or making the baking premixes, I ask them to help me measure the ingredients and to help me stir the mixture and so on.
They enjoy the baking so much. My son even says baking is an art and he often asks questions as to why we put certain ingredients in our baking. I then tell him that every ingredient has a purpose, for example, the eggs bind all the ingredients together while the baking soda and the baking powder help our batter rise.
This is a very special bonding time for us.
Being an entrepreneur impacted my motherhood journey
I believe entrepreneurship has bettered my negotiation skills. Having to convince my three-year-old daughter to eat when she refuses to and tells me food is ‘yucky’, is a skill.
As an entrepreneur, I bettered my negotiation skills when we started selling at the flea markets as some of our clients, especially the international ones, like to negotiate the price.
I have learned that good things come to those who wait – that a business takes time to grow.
Also, that a little patience goes a long way. Challenges are inevitable, so it helps to have patience. Potty training has been one of the main challenges for me on my motherhood journey but with a bit of patience and little rewards here and there my daughter is getting a hang of it.
Incorporating all these newfound skills has enhanced the way that I parent. It all comes down to balance. Keeping that balance alive and knowing that I am doing the best that I can as a mother, whilst I build a future for my children.
Layla Hasan-Hasen, is the founder of Azrah Naturals, a hair- and skincare brand, which she runs with her business partner, Nafisa. She is the mother of two children and works hard to find balance in between work, being an entrepeneur and motherhood.