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Hopscotch Heroes: Emilia Ohrtmann

8-min read.  In need of real life inspiration?

For those of you who are new to the platform, Hopscotch Heroes is our way of celebrating kick-ass women who are winning - at least some of the time! - at balancing work, life, family and everything in between.  We've heard inspirational stories, tips and advice from women at the top of their game in sports, entrepreneurship, business, blogging and much more.  

This month we are delighted to welcome Dubai-based serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Mums In Biz, Emilia Ohrtmann, as our Hopscotch Hero.  Mum to four little ones, Emilia has her own Squarespace website design business, is originally from Germany and has successfully grown three ventures in the last decade in three different countries, so we can't wait to hear all about how she and her husband manage their day to day to make it all possible.  Over to you Emilia!:

Hopscotch: Hello Emilia and thanks for being a Hopscotch Hero! Let's kick off with your daily routine - inspire us!

Emilia: I try to start every day before my kids wake up, I set my alarm for 5am, so that I have a little time just for myself. I use this time to do some yoga and meditation. As a freelance website designer I am theoretically very flexible with my work schedule and I could work from wherever and whenever. However, as a mom of four, my days are so fully packed, even without my work, that I learned to be very strict with myself. I work every morning when my kids attend school and nursery. 

These hours can be sitting at my computer and designing a website, it could be meeting a client, recording a podcast with a guest, going to an event or blogging. I try to keep some structure in my work week where I dedicate one day for one task but  that doesn’t always work every week. My work days depend a lot on my clients and what I am working on right now. 

Once I have picked up my kids everything depends on their schedule. I might be driving them to hockey or soccer practice, I might be sitting by their swim training and using the time to write a blog post, there is always something going on with the kids in the afternoon. On some days I squeeze in another work hour in the afternoons. Every day is different but always full on - in our house no day is boring. 

I always try and have dinner with the kids and once they’re in bed I am usually active and go for a run or do a workout at home. I am a huge fan of podcasts and online courses so I use my active hour to catch up on those. 

The latests I get to bed is 10pm and I fall asleep in about 1 minute.

H: What is your family background/current situation and how has this influenced your life today?

E: I am originally from Germany and for the past 14 years my husband and I have lived abroad. One of the reasons I started my own business was to stay flexible and work from anywhere in the world.   Both my mom and dad and also their parents where entrepreneurs, so I was born into an entrepreneurial family and I always knew I wanted to have my own business one day and be totally independent. 

My mom was also one of the few moms who worked almost my entire childhood. Back then this was not the norm and she taught both my sister and myself the importance of being financially independent and also having something outside of motherhood that keeps us engaged and growing.  Both my parents always worked hard - as far as I remember my dad worked every weekend - and at the same time they were always there for me and my siblings. Thinking about it now, I always knew it would be possible to have it all, my own business, do something I love, work hard AND have a family. 

My parents, my dad in his industry and my mom in our neighborhood, also showed us that it’s important to be active in your community, to network, to give back and to support others. For a long time I did not really understand the importance and how much you can learn and get out of that but for the past few years I have really been living for my community - my clients, other mumpreneurs, my followers and also the community that involve my kids. 

Giving back and helping others is what brings true meaning and happiness to me. I do this for example through our Mums in Biz podcast and the Mums in Biz community, through my blog, through video tutorials on website design and for my kids through volunteering at their school. 

I have lived in Dubai for the past seven years and for the moment Dubai is our home, however we don’t really know how long we will stay here, it depends on so many factors and that’s another reason why I made sure that I can work from anywhere in the world and with international clients. My business is not only client based, I also sell an online courses in website design. Diversity is key.

H: What three key tips could you share in promoting work/life balance within your family?

I have realized that it’s so important to appreciate the little things in life. Time flies when you have kids and also concentrating on growing a business, the days are fully packed. We always seem to be rushing from one thing to another and time seems to fly even faster. I always try to be really present whatever I do. I made a conscious choice to make sure I appreciate and cherish moments like watching a bird with my youngest or listening to my older kids stories, reading a book with them and realizing at the same time how precious these moments are. 

My second tip is to first of all stick to routines and secondly to have an amazing calendar. I love routines so everyone in the house knows exactly when things are happening. For example, my mornings are fixed for work. My husband and I also use our calendar a lot and block out times for everything in advance. Each of us knows what’s happening for the whole week and who is responsible for what. There are recurring events, like my Tuesday evening running session with a running group that is fixed in our calendar and we both work around that to make this happen.  

My last tip is to really ask for help and create a great support system.
I am - like so many other women - very bad at delegating and asking for help. As an expat I could never rely on family to help out so I had to ask for help from others. I ask friends and ,of course, my husband for help and I got external help with the kids and for my business. I truly believe we can have it all but we can’t do it all alone. 

H: Who do you look up to and why?

I find this question so difficult to answer as there are so many people I look up to. I listen to a lot of podcasts and I read a lot of books of inspiring entrepreneurs and I know many other entrepreneurs around the world who inspire me with their achievements and businesses on a daily basis. I would have to say I look up to all of them together.

H: And finally, tell us what keeps you moving forward and what threatens to hold you back?

My passion and my big goals keep me moving forward everyday. My kids and my very supportive husband also keep me moving forward. I want to be a better person for them every single day. I want to show my kids in real life that everything is possible if you believe in yourself and work hard. 

I am not sure anything really threatens to hold me back. If I have set my mind to something I usually make sure it will happen. I believe there is always a way and there are no problems, just solutions. I have to admit that being a mom of four young kids and wanting to be really involved in their lives does mean that I sometimes have to do other things that are important to me at a slower pace than I would like to. 

If I had to answer this question in one sentence I would say, the quote ‘great things happen outside of your comfort zone’ is my daily reminder and keeps me moving forward all the time!

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