This startup co-founder and CEO opens up about how she manages running a business and raising her son. rawpixel/Pixabay

As a co-founder and CEO of a startup, people constantly ask me how I achieve a work-life balance. Every time I am asked, I want to laugh. Balance? I’ve been juggling responsibilities since I was young, and I’m still juggling — just with a few more balls in the air. That became especially true after I had my son.

My mom was from the school of tough love. She was strict, and she made me work. But she also made me believe I could do anything if I worked hard. When I think about those days, my strongest recollection was the constant juggle of after-school commitments, friendships, work, and getting good grades. Working hard wasn’t always straightforward. I still sought reassurance and for someone to tell me I was achieving, that I was getting it right.

As an adult, I went from running a billion dollar company to founding my own startup. More juggling, but this time I was juggling fundraising, building a product, a team, growth, and being a mother. The juggle was real, but the drive behind the work was different because it no longer felt like work. It felt like building something with meaning, with a clear mission and purpose and the chance to help millions of women.

So, while I was still juggling being a good partner, being present and remembering to put the phone down, I stopped beating myself up when I sometimes dropped a ball. Juggling is about keeping things in the air, and sometimes you drop them. That’s okay.

Sometimes I am the best mother in the world: I remember to write a note for Fin’s lunchbox, and I have time to hand-make his festive holiday outfit for school. Sometimes my business is growing at such a rate that I am saying no to investors who continue to knock on the door. Sometimes, I even remember my best friend’s important life event. But rarely do these things happen all at the same time. Most often, I drop something. I don’t get it right.

However, what is different in my approach is how I feel about dropping the ball and how I deal with it going forward. I try not to berate myself, I try not to tell myself that successfully juggling everything all of the time will make me happy. That is the key for me to succeed in juggling motherhood, a business and everything else in life.

I operate a lot in segments. My day is divided into segments of my life, and it helps me juggle. It’s unrealistic to expect that those parts of my life won’t overlap — of course, they will — but compartmentalizing is helpful. I’m never too proud to ask for help, and most importantly, I manage expectations. I’ve learned to underpromise and overdeliver rather than the opposite, and it has made my relationships in business and at home much stronger as a result.

I love to work, and I want to succeed. But I believe the key to happiness is accepting the juggle and working to manage it.

Michelle Kennedy is the CEO and co-founder of Peanut, a social networking app that connects like-minded women who are mothers.