Celebrating moms: Julia Gillmor

In honor of Mother’s Day, The Tot presents a series of profiles of inspiring moms who are changing people’s lives. Meet Julia Gillmor…

After juggling the demands of running her consulting business and raising a child alone for half the year in the frigid mountains of British Columbia, Julia Gillmor suffered from a burnout. Instead of giving up, she made some major changes in her life and refocused her business to help other mompreneurs achieve work-life balance…

Five years ago, I launched my consulting business the same week I conceived my daughter. While both events were highly anticipated and met with joy, they were never supposed to roll out the same week. The next nine months were full hustle, but I couldn’t possibly have prepared for what was about to come.

Two years into my journey of motherhood, I hit burnout. I was stressed, maxed out and beyond exhausted. I hit a point where I could barely get anything done. My productivity was low, my focus was blurred and I was scattered. My health was affecting everything – I was in adrenal fatigue.

Yet all I could think was: “I’m failing hard. I need to work harder.”

Being an entrepreneur can be lonely and being a new mother can also be terribly isolating. I had lots of friends with similar lifestyles who were moms, but none of them were entrepreneurs. I had friends who were entrepreneurs, but very few of them were moms with a small child. No one understood my big vision of creating impact with the work I was doing. No one understood how hard I was struggling.

Mompreneurs face unique challenges and not many of the go-get-‘em entrepreneurial authors address them. We don’t have 18 hours a day to rock out our business. We don’t even have 10. We have an incredibly finite amount of time each day to get everything done.

So many of us struggle so hard and we don’t understand why. Even getting up in the morning and meditating before we do anything else is unrealistic for most of us to achieve every single day. Kids – especially when they’re young – make it nearly impossible to set up a routine that you can accomplish every day without fail. There’s an element of feeling like a failure that can sneak in when you read articles about how to be more productive and all the other hype that’s out there and mostly written by men.

Once I got on top of the fatigue – which took nearly six months – I started speaking with other mompreneurs who were suffering in many of the ways I had. The more conversations I had with women, the more commonalities I found among us that aren’t addressed inside entrepreneurship – and especially not by men. I ended up coaching these women through their health issues and giving them business strategies that fit their lives and lifestyles.

Most of my work is now focused on helping mompreneurs create a vision for their life and business. I get so lit by seeing women break through their limiting beliefs and make progress toward a meaningful life and a business to support it. But the most unexpected thing that happened was that I found a missing piece of community and belonging I hadn’t expected. I hadn’t expected this work to give such a deeper purpose and meaning to my life. I receive as much as I give.

My business also allows me to have the right balance in my life. I live in the mountains in Nelson, B.C., and I love hiking, skiing, camping and mountain biking with family. I’m not willing to sacrifice time with them to build a six-figure business – it’s just not how I’m wired. I put lifestyle and family first and align my business around them so that they both grow.

Engaging in nature with River – and having her delight in going for a hike, walking on a beach, skiing down a new run or watching the moon rise – fills me up. I get all weepy when I see that she “gets it” the way I do.

But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Cordell is a ski guide and his work takes him away a lot in the winter, so I solo parent for a significant portion of the year. And when you live in the mountains, the winter can be challenging. Keeping the wood chopped, the wood stove burning, the driveway and roof shoveled, and making it through flu season on my own can wear me out. I’ve had some exhausting winter seasons since River was born, but it does get easier and I’m much more careful about how I spend my time and energy so that I don’t hit burnout again.

Since becoming a mom, I show up with a lot more intention and awareness of how my actions affect others. Kids are a mirror for who we are. I take a lot of big breaths and pauses and try to be as intentional as I can.

I try to teach River to Respect Mother Nature and take care of her because we don’t have a future without her. I also try to cultivate curiosity and a sense of adventure in her, as well as the importance of integrity and being true to who she is.

If I could give her three pieces of advice, they would be: Be kind – always. Listen to your brave voice. Do your best.