The year was 2018, and lifestyle blogger, Jessica Chinyelu had no intention of leaving her full-time corporate job for another two years, but we all know how the saying goes: we plan and God laughs. Although her husband's mom stepped in to offer help as Jessica transitioned back into her regularly scheduled work life, her in-law's stay was coming to an end and it was time to make some tough decisions.
Jessica could either sacrifice precious time with her newborn to make someone else richer, or she could step out on faith and build generational wealth. Spoiler Alert: she chose the latter. To Jessica and her husband, this decision proved to be an easy one, even after trying and failing the same plan almost ten years earlier. Jessica told xoNecole, "I actually did not want to leave my job until 2020. I left my job back in 2009 and to be honest, I shouldn't have left. I ended up going back to corporate America. I had no idea what I was doing, I wasn't good with money and I had no business trying to start my own which is why I failed. But I thank God for the lessons because it prepared me for where I am today."
With the support of her husband and a prayer, she traded in the stability and security of a 9 to 5 to become a full-time entrepreneur for the second time. Jessica shared, "My husband encouraged me to leave my job in 2018 after giving birth and he believed in me. He believed I was ready this time around to go full-force, even as a new mom."
Now, Jessica makes a living as a lifestyle blogger, content creator, and booking agent, and couldn't see her life any other way. To date, Jessica has received more than $100,000 in paid sponsorships, hosted a number of sold-out conferences and workshops, and is the founder of Woman of Purpose, a non-profit that helps other women also live out their passions according to the gifts they've been given by God.
We sat down with Jessica to talk about securing the bag and your sanity, all while juggling the pressures of motherhood at the same damn time. Here's what she had to say:
How do you handle moments when you feel overwhelmed?
There are so many days when I feel overwhelmed. I'm a stay-at-home mom without a nanny and I'm running multiple fruitful businesses.
The struggle is real. I've found that slowing down keeps me sane and find my inner peace.
First, I pause and then take a deep breath. Afterward, I begin to tell myself, "Girl, It's Okay!" Whatever tasks need to get done can wait because my peace is better. I give myself time to process why I'm feeling overwhelmed. Most times, I feel overwhelmed because I've overextended myself or I didn't give myself a realistic timeframe to complete a task.
If I have to cancel a meeting, I do it. If I have to inform someone I need a tad bit longer to hand in a deliverable, I choose to be honest regardless of what the other person may think because my peace of mind is what helps me function from a healthy and stable place.
What’s the hardest part of your day?
The toughest part of my day is when I need to jump on a conference/Skype call but my precious baby boy wants all of my attention. Somehow, I always find a way to make it through those calls, even though it's hard. Hubby and I agreed we would send our baby to Montessori at 18 months. Until then, I make it work at home. It takes loads of patience, but it's so worth it.
When I have moments where I want to lash out (because every mama has those moments), I think about how blessed we are as a family where I can stay home and raise my kiddos instead of someone else shaping my child's character and personality. Think about it, some babies spend 8-10 hours per day at a daycare which means the majority of their time is spent with other people outside of the home.
Courtesy of Jessica Chinyelu.
How (and how often) do you practice self-care?
Self-care is a TOP priority for me. Before we had a child, I made sure my husband understood I need my getaway time! I go for a facial every eight weeks. I get a manicure and pedicure every four weeks. I ensure I go to my little Asian reflexology spot (they be hooking sistah up) once a month. I also use my girls' nights as a form of self-care.
I remember when I would place everyone else's needs before my own. It was not a pretty sight. I was moody all the time, I didn't feel good about myself, and I didn't look like Jessica anymore. I knew something had to change. I take at least 3-4 hours away from my family two days a week so I can focus on ME. It's needed! Your self-care is vital for your mental stability.
When do you feel most productive?
I feel most productive when I'm on a Starbucks patio with my headphones over my head sipping on a very berry hibiscus drink and knocking out my to-do list. If I get at least three tasks completed, I feel pretty darn great about it. I used to try and accomplish ten things, but I overwhelmed myself that way. Now I focus on what's TOP priority, get it done and reward myself.
What is your advice for dealing with mom guilt?
Man, I wish someone would've taught me how to deal with this when I first had my baby. Have a team of #Mamabaes who you can vent to when your completely over being a mom. Husbands don't understand what we as women go through at times. A #Mamabae is your experienced friend who has 2 or more children and will not judge you for feeling like you want to slap your husband or leave your baby for a few days just to get away. She's never in competition with you (new moms have a tendency to be in competition with one another), and she's always encouraging you to be kind to yourself and treat yourself at all times. She will remind you that it's okay to leave baby with dad or grandparents or close friends while you go out and DO YOU. You need this!
Secondly, don't compare yourself to other moms. Instagram will have you thinking you're the worst mom and you end up not enjoying motherhood because every experience is being compared to another mama's journey. The beautiful thing about motherhood is each mama's experience is so unique. Cherish the process instead of beating yourself up about it.
Lastly, ask for help and don't feel bad about it. No one is asking you to be a super mommy and if they are, put them in their place. I know I do. Asking for help takes courage and when you ask for help, you can get more done for your family and most importantly for yourself.
"No one is asking you to be a super mommy and if they are, put them in their place. I know I do. Asking for help takes courage and when you ask for help, you can get more done for your family and most importantly for yourself."
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
Money isn't everything. Chase peace and money will flow to you. I've become a professional at saying no to things because I realize if I'm losing peace over it, it's not worth it. One of my daily declarations is "God money (not good money) comes to me on a free course by the speed of the spirit." Money should not control you. You control money.
What is the most important lesson you want your kid(s) to learn from you?
This is such a great question. There are many lessons I want my kids to learn from me. I may get a little deep here because if you really think about it, it's a pretty deep question. I want my kids to know the truth about who they are, their true identities, and be so content with themselves and their true gifts that they never stray away from it. I want them to know they can achieve anything and to walk and talk like Kings and Queens because that's who they are. I want them to understand what living a true life looks like when you really allow your gifts to make room for you.
These days children are being influenced by anything and everything and it's important for us to teach our children how not to be easily swayed. I see young kids not confident in themselves, their abilities or their true gifts because their parents never took time to nurture those gifts.
I'm half American, half Nigerian. The Nigerian side of my family felt like everyone should be a nurse, a doctor, an engineer, or a lawyer. I do not want my children to grow up with this type of mindset. I want them to learn how to be true to themselves and transform their true gifts into a gift that is as fruitful or even more fruitful than the profession of a nurse, a doctor, an engineer or lawyer.
Courtesy of Jessica Chinyelu
What advice do you have when it comes to time management as a mogul mommy?
Time is extremely valuable because you cannot get it back. My best advice would be to become a super planner. I have multiple calendars to keep me on track. Create a family calendar that everyone can see. I placed a dry erase calendar on our fridge so hubby can see what I have going on for the month and he plans his activities around my schedule.
Also, communicate like crazy. Hubby and I have to discuss our schedules daily to ensure we're on the same page and a caregiver is booked when needed. And be sure to carve out your ME time and ensure it's on the calendar. You need that ME time.
How has being a mother helped you become a better entrepreneur (or vice versa)?
Becoming a mom has helped me go even harder. I feel like I do more as a mom than I did whenever I wasn't a mom. Motherhood brought a different side out of me in the greatest way possible and I'm embracing it to the fullest. My greatest ideas to date came after giving birth.
"Motherhood brought a different side out of me in the greatest way possible and I'm embracing it to the fullest. My greatest ideas to date came after giving birth."
What tips do you have for financial planning, both professionally and for your family?
I'll start with professionally. When it comes to your business seek advice from a financial advisor and hire a CPA. You need to know EVERYTHING about your business and where the money is going, how much is coming in, and what's not working for your business. Make sure your business is a legal entity and protect your personal assets. Get an attorney on your side. You never know what will happen in the future.
If you didn't grow up in a family where you had healthy conversations about money, be honest with yourself about it and seek help when it comes to your family. Money is such a touchy subject, especially in the black community. I wasn't good with money before I met my husband. It was a challenge in the beginning of our marriage because I never wanted to discuss money. We made a decision to have seperate accounts, a joint account, a joint savings and investments together. Although we have seperate accounts, we made a decision to be transparent about those accounts. This was hard because I was not used to answering to someone about MY money. When you get married, MY now becomes OURS. I had to change my mindset about money and get comfortable with planning OUR future together for OUR family.
Featured image by Instagram/@JessicaChinyelu.