Being a mom of a “special needs” child (or children) presents you with some unique challenges (and hidden benefits). But throw into that the drive to become an entrepreneur and you’ve got a recipe for even more chaos.
Becoming an entrepreneur (“mompreneur”) gives you the freedom to chase your passions while also finding the time to support and be present with your special needs child(ren).
What Does “Special Needs” Mean?
You know there are a lot of terms people use to show that a child has something unique about them.
Now “special needs” isn’t specific to children. But for the sake of this article that is what I’m referring to.
The term “special needs” just means that a child has some extra challenges they need help with – this can be physical or mental.
Some children are born with physical or mental differences while others may have gone through trauma or developed a “special need” as they get older. Either way, it’s merely a broad phrase to communicate that someone (in this case children) needs more help than what is considered “typical”.
You may see physical challenges called “physically disabled” and mental differences as “non-neurotypical” (it’s where you now hear the “neurodiversity” term).
What Is An Entrepreneur?
Basically an entrepreneur is someone who decides to start a business or businesses on their own (though this can be within partnership with others).
Entrepreneurs are driven individuals who decide to take their own path to create a life within their own definition rather than work a “typical day job” for a company that is not their own.
So for moms who decide to take their own path, this can open up a whole world of flexibility to every single day (depending on the type of business). This is what makes it possible for some moms who have “special needs” children to see to the unique needs of their children while also providing support financially to their family.
Meet Some Mamas Chasing Their Dreams
I asked my fellow moms what their experiences have been being an entrepreneur (mompreneur) while also having a child (or two) with special needs.
Being the mom of a special needs child comes with some pretty major highs and lows. Motherhood can be HARD. But being a mom of a special needs child means you have unique challenges every single day.
Here’s what some of your fellow mamas had to say about becoming an entrepreneur in spite of unique challenges:
Rebecca Conklin – CollectingClovers.Com
Becoming a work from home mom with a neurodiverse kiddo has undoubtedly taught me a few things about myself and building a business.
When I first started looking for work at home while caring for my kids, I had to learn to accept my limitations.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t dream big, but instead, I had to learn that my dreams just had a new timetable.
My blog might not grow at the same speed as some other bloggers. It might take me several years to see the growth others see in far less time. If I had more time to devote to my blog, I am confident my growth would be exponential. But that is not my reality, and I am ok with that.
Some weeks I might only have three to five hours to devote to my blog. Other weeks, it might be 10-15. I do what I can when I can. I try to automate systems as much as possible. Sometimes, blog posts are drafted via voice text while I am in the waiting room of a therapy appointment.
I might be the tortoise in the story, but I chose to leave my career for my kids. I chose to take a path that would have challenges. But I also chose to rise to the occasion and meet those challenges head-on. I chose to see success in a much different light than I once did. I am teaching my children dedication, strength, and perseverance. And to me, that makes me a success.
Emily Swank – autismAssistant.com
My name is Emily Swank and I’m the mom of three young children (7, 5 and 4), two of which are autistic.
Shortly after my boys were diagnosed, it became clear to me that working within the autism field was my “calling” but I just couldn’t figure out in what capacity. So I ignored those feelings and stayed busy with life and motherhood.
Then one day I had an idea that I thought could really benefit parents in the autism community. I needed a little guidance on making it work, so I scheduled a meeting with a business consultant. He loved the idea enough that he agreed to partner with me, develop the site, and put his marketing firm on the project as well.
Within one week of the idea, my website was under construction. Autism Assistant is a national search engine and database to help parents find resources they need, for not only therapists and doctors, but for all aspects of their lives. We just launched at the beginning of February 2020 and hope to fill a gap in the autism space.
My advice to other additional needs moms who are considering stepping out as an entrepreneur is to not be afraid.
Do your due diligence and reach out to the resources available to you. Some of the most successful products and ideas have come from moms who saw a need for something that was overlooked or a gap in the market.
I’ll be the first to admit that starting and running your own business is a daunting task, especially when you have additional needs children. But it is also so rewarding as well.
I love that I have something to work on that is all mine and it gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment that isn’t tied to my children. This has ultimately been a life changing experience for me and I’m so glad I took a risk and went with my gut.
Nicole Groenewald – MomsOfHeart.com
After my son Henry was born with half a heart and required 2 open heart surgeries in his first 6 months of life, I couldn’t go back to work as a nurse caring for others’ loved ones.
My own son was my most important patient.
About 9 months after he was born, weeks after we finally came home from the hospital for good, my husband fell down the stairs and shattered his leg, leaving him permanently disabled.
I now no longer had a choice about starting a business and carving a path for myself and my family. It was welfare or find another way.
The journey has been a challenge. I’ve had to overcome a lot of challenges one of them being we had no money to invest.
So it’s been $20 here, $20 there. I started pet sitting to make a little right now cash but even that had a limit. I can only see so many pets in one day and still properly care for my family.
I had a dream and a vision of figuring out a solution and sharing that solution with other moms like me. But I struggled to clarify what that looked like. And I struggled to believe that I could be the one to provide that answer. I doubted myself. A lot!
My big break through came from a decision to stop trying to figure it out. I had so many failed ideas and the pet sitting just was exhausting after a while.
I decided to build my business with Arbonne and go all in.
I asked for help.
I did everything I was told to do. And that started to work. As that started to work I realized those same skills and struggles were why I kept failing in my other business ideas.
My biggest problem was I was trying to make myself into what other people expected me to be, instead of just being loud about who I am and accepting it myself.
Now my Arbonne Business is growing and I’m launching my dream business this month (1 full year since I started trying to figure this thing out!) momsofheart.com.
Jennifer Carfora – FailureToThriveNoMore.com
I am Jennifer, a military spouse, and mom to two rambunctious boys: JJ and Jaxson.
My youngest son Jaxson is diagnosed with DYRK1A Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder. His older brother, JJ, has Anxiety and Auditory Processing Disorder.
I quit working full-time as a Chiropractic Assistant back in 2018 when I delivered our youngest son, Jaxson. Between all of the specialist and therapy appointments, I couldn’t keep a full-time job.
In 2019 I pursued a call-center job but ended up quitting two weeks into training. They required a quiet background and as a stay at home mom to two crazy little boys, how would I have a quiet room?
In March 2019 I took a chance – I decided to become a VA (virtual assistant) to a fellow blogger despite not having experience. I am so glad that I did! Since reaching out to her I have started to make a steady income as a Virtual Assistant and selling Media Kit templates.
I am now able to work from home and complete tasks for both clients and my blog in between specialty and therapy appointments.
My advice to you is, don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams – your goals. You can still become an entrepreneur as a special needs mom.
You got this!
Caroline Cardwell – AbundanceTribe.net
There’s this girl that inspired me. She was born 16 years ago.
She teaches me everyday.
She teaches me about being genuine. She teaches me about care for others. She has no deep philosophical conversations. But she leans in and gives someone crying an extra hug.
My daughter shares the love she has through statements of appreciation. So cute, so pretty, so adorable. These are words she shares.
She loves everyone. You find no malice or ill will in her heart..
My business is a healthy non toxic shopping club. The products help my daughter to breathe easier. She has had few coughing or colds since I began using the all natural products. This has been such a huge change.
But also, she sees my efforts to connect with women who care about the environment and the contribution their homes make towards it’s safety.
She inspires me to lead my business team with genuine love and care for everyone. If I can continue to be like Jayden, my business will thrive!
Urwah Kamran – MegaSocialGrowth.com
My name is Urwah, and I have a 3 year old on the spectrum, and a 1 year old waiting to be evaluated.
It’s a tough job for sure, especially with trying to run a full time business from home to be able to support them and actually be there with them as well.
But at the end of the day, they’re your kids. They’re your reason for even doing any of it. They’re the light during the darker days, and to be honest, can even be the reason for some of those days because of the constant worry and frustration that can come with the package.
But again, they’re the reason I even started to try working from home.
If it weren’t for them, I’d go back to school and eventually end up at a job working for someone else. But they’ve motivated me to want something more for myself. To be my own boss, for the flexibility of being there for them when they need me, and to be able to be around when I need them.
They’re the reason I keep moving forward. It’s hard for sure. You definitely can’t have the “normal” work days and just get things done for a couple hours straight.
There’s always distractions and interruptions, but once you get used to that part, and once you COMMIT to keep moving forward no matter what, that’s just what helps to strengthen your commitment because you start understanding HOW to keep moving forward. And that just enables you to tackle other obstacles as well.
So yeah, having children on the spectrum is difficult, working from home is difficult, and there are literally days that I feel like I’m finally going to completely lose it.
But the fact that I manage it and move past it is what enables me to keep moving and just become more resilient, because it’s pushing through the journey of difficulties that gets us to where we want to be, and make us the person we will become.
Siraya Gloudemans – StayAtHomeZooKeeper.blog
I am the mom of three, a 5.5 year old son with severe ASD, insomnia, language disorder, and sensory processing disorder and seizure disorder, a 3.5 year old daughter, and 9 month old son.
My son goes to an ABA center half days, and our public school 4k program the other half. He also attends private speech, individual swimming lessons, chiropractor appointments, and then sees a variety of specialists as well.My daughter is in dance as well.
A large portion of my day is spent driving the kids around between all these things as bussing is not available this year.
As of this year, I started putting my job title as blogger.
I blog about mom life, mom hacks, coping with special needs, supports for special needs and more. By finding a job I love, I love finding time to fit it in. I have created a brand, invested in a good site, set up to learn more every day, and continue to work to grow, network, and collaborate.
I feel this type of job allows me to work in all the cracks of my busy day. It takes a lot of serious organization of the house, schedule, self, and routine, but it is truly possible.
I found doing this job, one that is something I wanted to do regardless of what others thought about my doing it, has helped me to feel more confident as a person and a mother.
I am someone with a role in addition to special needs mom, I have something for me.
I love being a mom, I love being the mom to my son who has some extra needs, but most of all, I love being a person I want to be in addition to those roles, not solely those roles. If you are doing what you love, it will make the sacrifices and long days worth it.
Kristine Beaves – BloggingAboutMomming.com (that’s me)
When you picture motherhood many of us would never even think about what life would be like with a special needs child. It’s just not something you expect.
So when you have this beautiful, wonderful child who has some unique needs that present you with challenges every single day, you have to learn to just roll with it.
As a mom of 2 (ages 2 and 4), life can get pretty chaotic. Add in the needs of my oldest with ASD, SPD, and ADHD (yes lots of acronyms) and you have a recipe for a life full of ever-present juggling.
I started blogging before my first son was born. Since then I have somehow managed to not only maintain that blog but also start a second blog (BloggingAboutMomming) and start a virtual assistant business where I focus on helping other blogging moms find the time to focus on what they love – their family and their favorite tasks that actually bring them joy.
Yes, having a child with special needs make becoming an entrepreneur (mompreneur) a little more of an uphill climb. But, there’s something amazing that happens when you change your priorities to not only be there with your child(ren) but also be present in your own life reaching your own goals outside of motherhood.
For many of us, the tasks ahead of us creating our own businesses is incredibly daunting. But if you find a system that works for you and your unique circumstances, the benefits of pushing through and finding your passion greatly outweighs whatever you may struggle with every single day.
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