"My Priorities Were Realigned"—How a Single Mum Became a Fierce Entrepreneur
Motherhood is not easy—we hear mums say this in unison time and time again. But some women just make it seem so effortless. Breegan Jane is one of those people. A single mum of two beautiful boys under 4, she runs a successful interior design business, blog, and podcast out of Venice Beach, California. Just a few months ago, she was in Kenya with World Vision on a campaign to end female genital mutilation (FGM). From the outside looking in, Jane is what some would call a super mum.
A quick chat with her on anything from motherhood to entrepreneurship is enough to make you feel like she has it all figured out—navigating long workdays and quality time with her children with ease. But just like the rest of us, Jane has found that achieving balance in motherhood is a constant work in progress. "I think balance has a different definition for everyone," muses Jane. "For years I struggled to find a middle ground between my meaning of balance and what society seemed to think of it. I had to eventually realise that the only definition of balance that counted was my own."
Despite her unwavering attention to the success of her business, you can instantly tell that Jane's number one priority is her boys: Kingsley, 4, and Kensington (Kensi for short), 2. She speaks about them with unconditional admiration: "Kingsley's always been the silent protector of his younger brother," she says. "He’s my sensitive and creative child who has a lot of empathy for others. Kensi is my 2-year-old. He entered the world as if he already knew he was the second, kicking and screaming for his place in the world. The two of them definitely keep me on my toes. It’s been such a gift watching their personalities complement one another and watching their relationship grow."
Finding balance in her life to be able to appreciate those moments with her sons has been a work in progress for Jane, who was working 80-hour weeks in a high-demand position when she first became pregnant. "I quickly recognised I wasn't going to be able to sustain that sort of work profile while taking care of my child and myself," she told MyDomaine. "I was so fortunate to be able to transfer into entrepreneurial projects during my pregnancy so I could work smarter instead of harder, support myself, and slow the pace a bit. Years later, I was able to regain my stride and even surpass it by finding a new efficiency. We often take a career hit when we decide to become mothers. I'd tell any woman not to worry about it. Your life will bounce back and you'll be back to doing whatever you love before you know it."
In order to make her boys the number one priority in her life, the young entrepreneur made a series of changes in her professional life to increase her efficiency. "I keep my work/life balance in check with smart delegation," she explains. "It often means letting go of the control over how something will be done, but it allows work to get accomplished while I get to be mum. That's the most important task of all."
To Jane, having a great personal assistant has been instrumental in staying on top of her schedule: "My business involves working on several projects simultaneously, so there are always meetings to attend," she says. "I screen-grab text messages, emails, invites and anything else pertaining to my schedule and send them to my assistant who then organises it all and puts it on the calendar for me. It’s a small thing, but it allows my schedule to already be in place by the time I need it."
Working in a creative field has also allowed the young mum to involve her boys in many aspects of her business: "I like to joke and say that my boys have done more furniture shopping in their short lives than most adults! It's nice to spark their creativity in a fun way that also connects us, even if it's slightly stressful to bring two young kids into an antique store full of highly breakable items! I love that my sons get to watch me create things and ask questions about the cool art pieces on the wall. It's fun for all three of us."
In the Jane household, creativity spreads in all aspects of daily life, something that is instrumental to Jane in ensuring her kids develop all aspects of their personalities and interests. "We have a basket full of all the art supplies anyone could dream of. They are encouraged to explore interests in that way. Last year I gave them all musically themed gifts instead of toys for Christmas. It was a great way to introduce musical arts without pressure. I think it's always going to be important to nurture a natural curiosity without forcing it on them." Before bed, the mum of two takes the time to sing and dance with her boys: "I've noticed that spending that little extra time means they tend to get up less during the night. They seem to go to bed with their hearts full and that ensures I am happy as well."
This natural curiosity she instilled in her children also extends to the kitchen, where the boys are encouraged to constantly try new foods. "My kids have always been exposed to the restaurant world because of my entrepreneurial endeavours," says Jane. "They're very accustomed to all the various types of cuisines, and that has only made them more curious to try them. I make veggies available and treat them like any other food. Always offering it and having it around means they not only like them, they ask for them."
Jane's parenting style could be best described as "practice what you preach," something that transpires from her creativity to her hard work, and even her empathy for others. "One of the biggest values I want to pass on to them is a good work ethic. I want them to make the connection between hard work and reward. We started a charting program in our home that's a visual representation of what they do and how it relates to what they get in return. I try to explain to them that we are able to do more fun things because mummy works hard, not just because we exist. In the same way, it's also important to me that they are kind for the sake of being kind. We live in a world full of people who only think of themselves. I explain to them that they enjoy certain privileges, and they should use them to help others."
By exposing her children to so many experiences, Jane is able to also teach them about embracing differences: "I am careful not to paint an image in their minds about a specific definition of race or masculinity. We live in southern California, which is diverse, so it makes it easy. I fill their personal library with books featuring characters of all races, genders, and cultures. Their lives and minds are saturated with so much diversity that race ceases to be a topic we need to dwell on."
If children learn by example, there is no doubt these boys will grow up to become hard-working, kind, and creative individuals who are able to turn outwards to help others, the same way their mum does. On a recent trip to Kenya with World Vision, Jane took time out of her busy schedule to help girls who didn't have the same luck her boys had, growing up in such a loving and supportive household. "I visited these young girls who were brave enough to run away from their families in order to escape inevitable FGM and being married off at a very young age. They risk everything in order to have an education to be able to become earners and contributors in their own communities. I was so honored to have a school commissioned in my name while I was there. I want them to know there is someone devoted to fighting with and for them."
Although she never fails to follow her pursuits, creative, professional, or altruistic, Jane admits that mum guilt is real, and it never goes away. "I have learned to accept it and come up with a strategy that involves using positive self-talk when those moments of guilt set in. You have to be determined to never let those negative feelings prevent you from doing the things that make you feel good and encourage growth. When I have to go away, I create a pictorial schedule of where I'll be each day so that my sons can keep up with me. It helps them to feel connected when we're miles apart. I also usually take something of theirs with me. A necklace or bracelet they wear helps me feel like I have a piece of them along for the trip."
Each morning Jane's boys crawl into her bed. "Whichever son wakes up first comes in to cuddle with me, and we look forward to the other sibling waking up so we can get breakfast started. Lucky for me they tend to flip-flop wake-up times, so I get to spend one-on-one time with each during that morning time each day." This quality time has taught the busy mum that giving her boys unwavering attention is instrumental in their development. "My sons don't always get that mummy is working and busy when I'm plugged into my computer or phone. They've shown me that I have to work harder to not be disengaged, that I have to put the phone down and not get lost in things that simply don't matter."
The life lessons of motherhood are tenfold and rewarding beyond any stretch of the imagination, something that Jane still learns every day. "Motherhood gave me a new perspective on the world," she told MyDomaine. "You reach a certain age and maturity when you think you have it all figured out. Your self-evolution seems to slow when things in life are good and you've reached a few goals. You sort of hit a comfortable plateau. Having kids rocks your world and turns that upside down. You have to recenter and readjust. While that may sound like a hassle, for me, it was growth. My priorities were realigned, and the world just became brighter. The icing on top is the unparalleled love I have for and get from my kids. Nothing's beating that."