Balancing Home & Work
I love that many of you included in your feedback from last weeks post that you were curious to hear more about my experience of being a mom and running a small business at the same time. So I decided to share a little of our story and a few tips on what I have found that has helped. First let me say this has been a huge 3 years for our family. Alex and I were both quite young when having Owynn so just managing being young parents as well as us both being self employed has had its challenges. Our life is generally pretty busy and many times I have almost completely left Barnacle Bags behind but through lots of work and experimenting we have realized that I love my job too much to let it go. Also I feel like I am a better mom because I have this creative and challenging outlet.
So here it goes, I began working again when Owynn was about 6 months old. We had not planned for me to go back to work until Owynn was a year old but I was feeling ready to get back into the studio much before then. We started in small steps. Friends and family offered to help a little bit during that time so for about 2 hour chunks a couple times a week I would work in the studio slowly getting my feet back on the ground.
As Owynn grew and became more independent he was watched for longer periods of time about 3-4 hours max and slowly a routine was somewhat formed each week but still I was working very part-time. I was just barley keeping up with orders and all the demands of self employment. I was really struggling with balancing the workload and my personal life. I closed down the shop periodically over those next couple of years when I felt overloaded. I noticed when I was working too much as Owynn would respond to that at home so I really had to take a step back and reevaluate our daily rhythm.
Now finally after 3 years I feel like I am just now getting a handle on my work while still being present at home. Here are a few ways I have made this happen. I rarely take on custom orders anymore - It took too much time away and I never got paid enough for it. More childcare - I was used to working 6 days a week so I felt like I needed to work at least 3 -4 days to get back to where I was and this only happened in the last year. Work on the weekend sometimes - I try to not but usually Sunday afternoon I slip away into the studio to plan out my week. Working in the evenings - about 2 days a week I work when Alex gets home. Late night emailing - I write emails or order supplies online after Owynn has gone to bed and use free time in the day for actually designing or making bags. "Leave it behind" - When I close the door to the studio each day I really try and not think about work again until I step back into the studio the next day. So basically when I am home I focus on home life only. Obviously I am not perfect at this but I try. Include your kidoo - I try and bring Owynn into the studio once a week for an hour when I have an easy project like wrapping orders so I can talk to him but work at the same time. I think it is important for kids to see what their parents are do. Take time off - I really try and take the weekends off if I can but also just taking a whole week off once an awhile helps me out so much for my creative brain and for feeling more balanced at home too. I try and spend that week organizing and thinking about how to do things more efficiently. Once I return from the week away I always feel refreshed and work harder in the studio.
I know there are many other things I have learned and still have so much to work on but those are a few suggestions on the subject of working from home with a child. I would love to hear if you have any thoughts or suggestions on this subject!
Happy Weekend ahead!