For all its joys, being a hands-on mom can be a relentless, exhausting, and sometimes even thankless role. You can go from moments of love and contentment to feeling like you’re stuck in a “Groundhog Day” scenario of ear-splitting cries and soiled nappies.
So it’s no surprise that more and more we are seeing mothers, both seasoned expats, and recent arrivals, taking advantage of the industrious climate that exists here in Beijing and starting up unique businesses. They’re breaking free from the “trailing spouse” label that so often gets attached to moms who have had to give up their own careers for the sake of their husbands’ deployment in China and finding a sense of accomplishment and purpose in entrepreneurship.
Founder, ExpatCoach China
Expat mom Godje Deuchert moved to China from Germany with her husband five years ago. They came to experience a change in lifestyle, career opportunities, and get a taste of China’s ancient history and traditions.
After many years in the finance industry, working as a business psychologist and career coach, she decided to start her own coaching practice in Beijing called ExpatCoach China. Little did she know what was in store for her two months after launching her business – pregnancy! Luckily she was already building herself a business that was going to cater to her “family-friendly” needs, so she kept going strong.
Deuchert’s main purpose in starting her coaching business was to spend less time in organizational bureaucracy and more time with actual humans.
“Doing something meaningful is what keeps me happy and balanced – which in turn is very important for the peace of my family,” she explained.
“The excitement of accompanying people on journeys – whether it is career progression, inner happiness, or fulfilling their goals and dreams is what keeps me going. I love motivating people to think about things from different perspectives and I try to make their lives less challenging if I can.”
For Deuchert, the idea of success can change from time to time. It sometimes is the ability to be in harmony with herself, being able to look in the mirror each day knowing that she is giving a little bit of herself back to the community around her. She grew up in a sports-oriented family and sometimes finds her competitive side sneak up, where she strives for positive feedback and being sought after by interesting clients. She added:
“On other days, my biggest success is just getting my son to sleep.”
We asked her about the biggest challenges she faces.
“It’s hard saying no to existing clients and new opportunities,” she replied. “I have so many ideas to develop my business but that would mean sacrificing precious time with my son. So I need to reevaluate where I spend my time daily.”
Having a daily schedule that involves using the precious hours of daycare and naps helps Godje stay focused and motivated.
Deuchert’s top tips for moms hoping to start their own business:
– Follow your passions and make decisions based on what’s right for you, moment by moment.
– Listen to your heart. Don’t pay too much attention to what other people say.
– Don’t dwell in fear too much. Everyone struggles at the beginning. Share your thoughts with your support network and community, and get yourself a good sounding board. Start simple, one step at a time.
Each mom we talked to found their own path, and for many, mothering and family management are challenge enough. However, if their stories have inspired you to reach out to that part of yourself that dreams those sometimes silent dreams, then be reassured that even the most successful women were exactly where you are now. Remember that everything is “figureoutable!” Work for what you love and try to make the process joyful.
As the poet, Cleo Wade says: “The beauty of you is not where you are perfect. It’s where you are fearless.” Go forth and be brave, Mama!
This article appeared in the beijingkids November 2018 Beijing Makers issue
Photo: Courtesy of Godje Deuchert