Mompreneurs: it’s not just me; it’s a social phenomenon

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As mom who runs her own business(es,) I was looking forward to a segment on Mompreneurs on the local CBC radio station yesterday. Unfortunately, they just showcased one lady’s business and missed the bigger picture. (I know the producer reads my blog occasionally, so yes! I think you should do a follow up.)

Mompreneurs, or moms starting their own businesses so they can work from home is more than one or two cases of ladies selling jewelry or clothes on Etsy. It’s a social movement, with big economic and demographic drivers behind it.

Let me out my Business Professer hat on. (Yes, that’s really one of my other jobs. This is not a figurative hat.)

Firstly, a lot of parents my age grew up as latch key kids. Our parents the Baby Boomers were the first generation to have the majority of women working outside the home (go Boomers!) but the side effect was that most of us didn’t have a parent stay at home for the majority of our childhoods. Demographically speaking, Baby Boomers were driven by career achievement and often viewed their success in their parenting years as holding down a job, advancing in that job while raising children and financial stability (remember, their parents had lived through depressions,) as key success factors.

Each generation tends to swing the pendulum. In my generation, we already saw our moms (and in my case, grandmothers) working and had those role models. We started our careers first and started having kids when our jobs were in full swing. As a new mom in my early thirties, I’m pretty par for the course. I had already been a tenured professor for five years, and didn’t have much to prove, career wise.

So how does my generation of Baby Boomer kids define success during our own parenting years? Well, the pendulum swings back,and I think we’ve refocused on family life. The attachment parenting philosophies (started in the 70s, thanks hippy parents!) have taken root, along with a comfort level with ourselves as already established professionals.

So for the first time in over a hundred years, you see more of one parent staying at home than the previous generation. I’m not making this stuff up, by the way. Look it up if you think I’m full of phooey.

But then the financial realities hit. (Again, look it up if you think I’m full of it.) Our generation has way less disposable income between two parents than our parents did. Some of the key factors are the history of real estate inflation and the flatlining of salaries relative to disposable income costs. In other words, my generation doesn’t make as much money (in context) as our parents did. Yikes! And we want one parent to stay home?

So enter the Mompreneur Movement. Moms (and a good handful of dads,) want to stay home, or work part-time, but we can’t afford it. I repeat… I could not afford to stay home or even work part time. (When I went to work part time, I went to a third of my take home salary, which is less than receiving unemployment insurance.) So we have to be creative about income generation. AND, as a group of people who have already had success and/or experience in the wide world of work, we are more confident in our abilities to start our own businesses.

I started AfricaSleeps a few years ago, partly because the lady I was buying sleep caps from stopped selling them and I needed those caps, durn it! And partly because we needed the extra income for our second adoption.

But the reason I expanded our shop this fall was definitely in response to wanting to go part time at my professoring day job and get off the hamster wheel. I knew I could do it.. I just needed the right products (and they are FABULOUS!!) and the time to invest in expanding my business. So my husband and I made the choice for me to go to part time work and spend the rest of my time on my business, and on saving money (which takes its own time and attention.)

I see more and more Moms like me making similar choices to jump off the wheel and do it our own way. We are different from our own moms, as we are stepping out of the career hierarchy, but make no mistake… We couldn’t do this if they hadn’t walked in front of us balancing work and home.

Thanks Moms! For enabling us Mompreneurs to find our own solutions to the demographic and economic pressures of being a modern parent.