In xoNecole's series Mother/Hustler, we sit down with influential mom bosses who open up about the ups and downs of motherhood, as well as how they kill it in their respective industries, all while keeping their sanity and being intentional about self-care.
Minding your business takes on a whole new meaning when you put healthy personal boundaries in place, and Massachusetts-based content creator Kathlyn Celeste has developed a thriving online business, amassed nearly 200,000 followers, and purchased a house with her husband and two young sons by doing exactly that.
As a mogul-in-the-making, one of the most powerful tools to have in your arsenal is the word "no" which, by the way, is a whole sentence. Kathlyn keeps this two-letter torpedo on deck. In a recent interview with xoNecole, this 28-year-old mother-of-two revealed the secret to staying centered when you're being pulled in every direction and according to her, it starts with knowing that boundaries are a business owner's best friend.
"This year, I've been learning the power of 'no' and it's been hard, but freeing. I can't be everything for everyone or say 'yes' to every job as much as I love it and want to be a part of it."
Time is money, and this Mother/Hustler isn't here to waste either one on projects (or people) that don't serve her higher purpose. That's exactly why Kathlyn made the conscious decision to create a line between work and home that cannot be violated. She continued, "Sometimes my 'yes' to work is a 'no' to my family time and that's a line I just cannot cross. So, I've learned to be selective with the work I take on so it doesn't take away from what matters most to me."
We sat down with Kathlyn to talk more about the challenges of motherhood, entrepreneurship, and finding the courage to create healthy boundaries. Here's what we learned:
xoNecole: How do you handle moments when you feel overwhelmed?
Kathlyn Celeste: I'd like to say I go to prayer right away, every time… but honestly, sometimes the process is: slightly freak out, text my husband for encouragement, find something sweet (chocolate always works), calm down, walk away from the situation, pray, and worship. Then, I'm good!
What’s the hardest part of your day?
KC: I have the hardest time when it hits 2:35 pm and I'm not done with my work, but my family just walked through the door and I'm being covered with kisses and hugs. There's this tension inside of me because I want my workday to end there and just spend time with my family but it rarely happens that way. I'm currently learning to live in the 1% and be present in those moments, but I'd be lying if I didn't say it's hard.
"There's this tension inside of me because I want my workday to end there and just spend time with my family but it rarely happens that way. I'm currently learning to live in the 1% and be present in those moments, but I'd be lying if I didn't say it's hard."
How (and how often) do you practice self-care?
KC: This is horrible, but very rarely. I need to get better at this. Some days self-care looks like Netflix and chill, and other days it's doing something active. But honestly, my favorite form of self-care is laughter. I love spending time just hanging out with my family, cousins, girlfriends, or binge-watching something with hubby and lots of snacks. That's my fave.
When do you feel most productive?
KC: When I'm killin' the game in my roles as a wife, mother, businesswoman, and friend. If there's a day where I sent an encouraging text to a friend, cooked, got the house clean, loved up on hubby, and had lots of big-hug-parties with my boys, all while checking off the 30 things on my to-do list… wow. #GOALS.
What is your favorite way to spend “me time”?
KC: Do trips to Target count? This is something I'm trying to get better at. This [past] year, I made it a priority to have "date days with Jesus" where I schedule out a huge block of time one day a week where I spend time in my word, journaling, and just talking to God all day. Through this, I've learned so much about myself by spending time with the One who created me. It's literally changed me in ways I'm so grateful for.
[This] year, I'm planning to start taking violin lessons as part of my "me time"! I played in elementary school and when I think about doing something for myself that has nothing to do with work or anyone else, I thought that would be cool to try again!
"I made it a priority to have 'date days with Jesus' where I schedule out a huge block of time one day a week where I spend time in my word, journaling, and just talking to God all day. Through this, I've learned so much about myself by spending time with the One who created me. It's literally changed me in ways I'm so grateful for."
What is your advice for dealing with mom guilt?
KC: "Give yourself grace and then make the necessary changes to improve where you feel you lack." I had a huge mom-guilt moment this summer that made me literally change the way we operate as a family. My oldest son opened up to my mom and said, "All Mommy and Dada do is work, they don't like to have fun and go to Chuck-E-Cheese." I was in Maui for a work trip at the time when she sent me the voice recording. I broke DOWN.
From that point, we decided that "Family Fun Days" would be a priority in our family and the first thing we schedule into the week before we even think about work. As much as it hurt, I'm grateful for what I've learned from that and how it brought change to our family for the better.
What is the most important lesson you want your kids to learn from you?
KC: There's so many and, as I grow as a mother, so many more get added to my prayers over the men they're becoming. I want them to be known as faith-filled men who have humble hearts--men after God's own heart--are outrageously generous and love all people well. [I want them to be] men who operate in excellence in all they do, that have a servant's heart, and like to have FUN in life while being present and enjoying each moment and season of life they're in.
Why was it important to you to be an entrepreneur even though some people may think that a 9-to-5 offers more stability?
KC: My journey through entrepreneurship has become my own ministry. I'm using my platform to encourage and inspire women as I learn and grow from the good and hard things I experience. Yes, you can in some ways have that in a 9-to-5 but because I can reach hundreds of thousands of women all over the world and bring them hope… there's nothing I'd rather do.
How has being a mother helped you become a better entrepreneur (or vice versa)?
KC: Absolutely. I don't think I would be as successful as I am if I didn't have a family early-on. They were my driving force to start and now the people I serve in my community are a part of that driving force.
"I don't think I would be as successful as I am if I didn't have a family early-on. They were my driving force to start and now the people I serve in my community are a part of that driving force."
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a mom who runs a business?
KC: I think time management has been the biggest one for me and creating a good "work-life" balance. Because I work from home, most days I'm answering emails and creating content while also cooking and picking up toys. Sometimes, just leaving and going to a coffee shop makes the biggest difference for me.
What advice do you have for moms who are looking to start their business but haven’t taken a step out on faith yet?
KC: If it scares you, do it. If it makes you worried, do it. Nothing worth fighting for comes easy. Don't get caught up in comparison and don't let perfectionism delay you any longer. Your first attempt is going to be "bad" compared to where you'll be a year from now. That's growth and inevitable. So, just do it! The only regret you'll have is not starting sooner.
Do you think it’s important to keep your personal and professional life separate? Why or why not?
KC: In many instances, yes. But I think a level of vulnerability in this industry is so important. It makes you more "normal" to the people on the outside who think for some reason, we're not. I've found that I've helped the most people by sharing my experiences and how I've overcome them. I won't ever go online and complain about something unless I'm coming with a solution as well. If I open up about a difficult moment with my husband or parenting, it's because I'm also sharing what we did to change and better that issue in our marriage or parenting. The heart behind everything I share has to be "How will this help them?"
What advice do you have when it comes to time management as a mogul mommy?
KC: Any tips you can give me?! (Laughs) I'm learning to get better at this and my goal for the new year is to master it! But what I've learned so far:
- Starting my day earlier (and sleeping earlier) really makes a huge difference!
- Set scheduled "work" hours and try your best to stick to them!
- Remove all distractions from your workspace. The 'Do Not Disturb' feature has BLESSED me. Sometimes I don't ever want to turn it off.
- Schedule everything and give yourself time blocks to do each task.
- Anticipate interruptions (Especially with kids. Life happens, it's okay!).
- Delegate! (I recently took on an assistant and it's changed the game for me!)
What tips do you have for financial planning, both professionally and for your family?
KC: Budget, budget, budget! Save, save, save! Take some time to create a spreadsheet and list out all of your income coming in, and every penny going out. Each week, you should update this sheet and it'll give you a better idea of what you can actually afford and where you may have to cut back. I think once you get started, you'll fall in love with managing your money and being in control of it, rather than it controlling you!
For more Kathlyn, follow her on Instagram @KathlynCeleste!
Featured image by Instagram/@kathlynceleste.