Interview with Paullette Schwartz, working mum, business owner, single mum and winner of our 2011 article-writng competition. Her daily schedule and tips offer great insights in how to run 3 business along-side being a single parent.
Paullette, you won our article writing competition, congratulations! What did you think when you heard you had won?
It was completely unexpected; I write for fun and write a blog as a hobby. That said, whatever I do needs to have a benefit, that is time management. As a single working mum I have to be ruthless with choosing what to spend my time on. So my writing is fun but also serves to raise my profile and generate business.
How did you decide to enter the competition?
I read about it somewhere, then Sarah (founder of Ladies@11) mentioned it and then I met you at the Ladies@11 teaparty. I wanted to help Mum & Career as it is a really worthwhile site and working mums need that sort of information. Our chat made me realise my experience as a highly organised single mother could actually be valuable for other parents. I have to be organised, know this stuff inside out, and realised many of us struggle to do just that.
Could you tell us about your business?
I run a number of businesses, really because I have so many different interests and focusing on one leaves me with a feeling of dissatisfaction I am not doing the other. Also, as a single mother, it is important my income is sufficient to sustain a family; a portfolio of businesses gives me a buffer in a recession.
I run IdealHearts (now closed – IW) - happiness and relationship coaching after a break-up. I use similar skills as a coach to business people going through a life transformation. I also run IdealBusiness, mentoring small and micro-size businesses. Then there is my not-for-profit venture: Fabulous Woman, a community of women that inspire each other. Last I have a side-line in trading cars with my boyfriend.
All of my businesses are about helping women thrive; it’s about happiness and profit. We all want to be happy and when you are successful you are more likely to be happy. We all need to survive and thrive.
It does sound impressive. How do you fit running five businesses and looking after two children in? What does a typical day look like for you?
5.0o Get up, eat breakfast, have a quiet morning-coffee, read e-mails. Collect my thoughts for the day and get materials ready.
5.30 Exercise, usually a walk, yoga or a Pilates video.
6.00 Wake up the kids, they are 12 and 13. They get dressed and I get them ready for school. They are very independent though, and I have taught them to be so. For instance if their clothes aren’t in the laundry basket they simply do not get washed.
7.45 Kids catch the school bus; I get a coffee and respond to e-mails.
8.15 I write, go to meetings, do cold-calling and meet up with clients.
4.00 pm Kids come home, and I listen to them and carry on some work.
5.30 pm We have dinner as a family and catch up, I tidy the rooms, feed the cats, mow the lawn or whatever needs doing. My house is not the epitomy of tidiness, my two children are like tornado’s and housework will come last. In busy times only the essentials are done, such as the children’s laundry. I believe tidiness doesn’t make a big difference to the quality of our life.
8.00 pm The kids go to bed, and I have time for some reading and catching up with friends, having a chat or organising social engagements.
9.00 pm I get ready for bed. Occasionally I work in the evening too, if it is really busy, I try to avoid it as it affects my sleep. I always read for an hour, for fun, or professional development.
Of course every day is different, as the kids have all kinds of activities and I fit in driving them places too. I always like to start mindful though, reflecting on what I have achieved, it is so easy to forget those and dwell on the negatives.
I am very fortunate to run my own businesses, if on a day I don’t have the energy I listen to my body and take the day off. I meet a friend for lunch, chill out at home or go back to bed.
And of course I do more than just work, there is more to life than that. I make time for hobbies such as horse riding, rock-climbing going to a play or an opera. We have a camper van and I take the children on trips. I adore travelling and go on trips 3-5 times per year, on my own or with my boyfriend.
I hope every working mum reading this remembers being organised is key, but it’s not all about work. I believe it is important you keep in touch with what you really like doing.