From mom, with love.

As we celebrate Black History Month, we’re excited to share the voices of moms who are shining a light on the path. From raising mindful kids, to the link between motherhood and entrepreneurship, to juggling safety and independence in a modern world.

Brandi Riley is a Northern California African-American mom blogger, a wife, and a mother of two. Learn more about her work at @couragetoearn,

I used to be a gigantic workaholic. As a non-profit professional, I loved and felt filled by the work I was doing, and it was really hard to turn off.

Once I had my first child, all of that changed. Overnight my entire focus changed. Instead of being concerned about being available for clients and funders at all times, I wanted to work my day and get home to my baby.

After awhile, it became apparent to me that I needed to do my own thing. In order to get the flexibility I desired to be a really engaged mom, starting a business just made sense.

At the time, personal blogs were just starting to make money, so I started a site called Mama Knows It All. Soon, I was earning income from sponsored campaigns, ad revenue, and affiliate marketing.

Becoming a mom changed the way I thought about what being an entrepreneur looked like. I had always envisioned running a business of my own as a lot of hustling, long days, and sleepless nights.

Because I came into entrepreneurship with a goal of being able to spend time with my baby, I learned to maximize my time, be more productive, and create boundaries early on. Although I’ve certainly gotten better with all of those things over the years, I can look back at the last decade of my time as an entrepreneur and proudly say I’ve never missed any important events for my kids.

Even now, with two thriving businesses, a full-time job, and one more child than I had when I first started as an entrepreneur, I’m still able to balance work and life pretty well.

Work / Life Balance? Really?

My philosophy on work / life balance is really inspired by my role as a mom. The foundation of my belief is “you can only do what you can do.”

I think about when my kids were babies and I did what I could in the pockets of time when they were napping, or engaged with my husband.

When you think about it, that doesn’t ever really change. Although the children are older, they’re human, and life is unpredictable. I never get too married to a schedule. If something comes up that takes priority over work, or cuts my work time in half, so be it.

I can only do what I can do.

Besides having an open mindset, some of the other ways I manage my work / life situation is being realistic with the time I have to work uninterrupted. Because it’s very rare for me to have more than an hour without a kid needing me for something, I don’t make plans for any work that’s going to take longer than that.

I use various time-blocking methods to complete work, and I make sure all of my clients are aware of my time limitations for meetings and things.

My evenings and weekends are free for family time. I’m in the bed at a reasonable hour each night. This is my business, so I run it in way that is conducive to my family having me there, and being able to take care of myself.

We often hear about how challenging it is to run a business, or have a career as a parent, but I’m experiencing the flip side of that. Putting my children first has been key in creating a professional life that is really quite amazing. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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