Interview with Mother and Restaurateur, Sandra Ferreira
Being a parent often requires juggling many responsibilities, especially when working full-time. We spoke with Sandra Ferreira, mother of two young children and business owner, on how she manages to find balance between her roles and still make time for date nights! Sandra owns several successful restaurants in Montreal, Canada. We wanted to share her advice on how to remain an influential business person while having a family. If you find yourself in the city, we highly recommend you stop by her Portuguese chicken restaurant, Campo!
How have you adapted your work-life balance as a business owner and mother of two?
The restaurant business is not just a job; it is a lifestyle. There is always the pressure to keep things running smoothly, as we are open for lunch and dinner, six to seven days a week. Now that my kids are a bit older, my goal in 2023 is to spend at least one evening a week at home and make small adjustments to my ''9 to 5." For example coming in at 9:30am or leaving at 4pm, so I have more time at home with my family. A key component to reaching my work-life balance is to be realistic with the goals I set for myself. I try, at all costs, to avoid the feeling of guilt, and I even leave room to exceed my expectations here and there!
As a business owner, mother, and wife, the only way to achieve a work-life balance is to seek help. My husband is also an entrepreneur with a busy schedule, so we have an incredible nanny who helps us two evenings per week, one for my evening at work and the other for a date night or personal commitments.
My husband and I try to make time for ourselves as a couple, which is important to us. Although it isn’t always easy to carve out the time with both of our busy schedules, we prioritize date nights and plan them in advance. I’ll say it again, it is a constant adjustment and definitely not perfect, but with a positive mindset, realistic goals, and help, it is possible to make it work.
Can you share any tips or strategies you've developed to prioritize your time and stay organized between a business and children?
Prioritizing time and staying organized is essential when you’re running a business and taking care of children. I write everything down in my calendar, mommy brain is definitely a thing! I also try to focus on what I am best at and try to delegate the rest as much as I can.
What are some challenges and obstacles you've experiences running a successful business and being a mom? How have you navigated those?
It is definitely hard, very hard! There are some good and bad days in parenting and in business, and way too few hours in a day to achieve everything. It can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Last year was especially difficult for me in my business. When my son was just six weeks old, I lost the manager of one of my restaurants and it completely disrupted my life and maternity plans. Stress quickly took over. I lost my appetite and was sleep deprived, as I was breastfeeding my son every 2-3 hours. In my desperation to hold onto everything I had worked so hard to build, I would bring my son to the restaurant every day. Looking back, it wasn’t the best thing for my health, but, in the moment, I felt like I had no other choice.
Thankfully, my baby was incredibly calm and content, and since it’s a family business, he was passed around from arm to arm and enjoyed all the attention. It is hard to say what would have happened had I not stepped in. In that difficult time, I needed to follow my instincts!
What advice would you give other female business owners who are considering having children?
I'd say to not overthink it! There is never a perfect timing.
Despite my best efforts to plan for my maternity leave, COVID completely disrupted everything. Here in Montreal, restaurants were forced to close three separate times by the government and all of this happened while I had two young children. It was a difficult time, but somehow, I managed to pull through. Parenthood and entrepreneurship are both incredibly powerful, and while there were certainly challenges, I found that having the right mindset and expectations was key.
Recently, a successful businesswoman and mother gave me some valuable advice: it's time to focus on excellence instead of perfection. Excellence being the attempt to perform a task in the best way possible, whereas perfection is the definitive 100% right way of doing something.
What are the most rewarding parts of having a business and small child?
The children. Experiencing this kind of love is the best feeling in the world. It is surreal. There is no better role than the role of mother. Just remember being a good mother doesn't mean you have to stop being a woman, a wife, a friend, or an entrepreneur.