Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mommy-ing and Etsy-ing:

Many of us here on Etsy are mothers. Some of us are stay-at-home moms, some of us work outside the home, but I believe all of us have the dilemma of finding a balance to our “real life” and our “Etsy life”. I, personally, am a stay-at-home mother of two young children (5 and 2) and I started an Etsy shop with the idea that I could easily work on my glorified hobby and be the same dynamic, take-my-kids-everywhere-have-activities-planned-every-day mother I have always been to my children. That would work out super IF I had just a glorified hobby. In reality, what I have is a full-fledged, small business and I make no apologies for wanting it to be successful.

But to what end?

I have seen many a forum thread discussing this topic and I have a few suggestions to work toward a more harmonious Mommy Life and Etsy Life:

Get Organized. This is beyond the basic to-do list.

Get Real. We, unfortunately, are not superheroes. It’s a reality we have to face.

Get Help. A support network is crucial to our success.

Get Happy. Remember why you are a mother and a shop owner.

Getting Organized:

Okay, I know all of us have sat down and crafted lists thinking that if it’s on paper, we’ll get to it. The only thing I know it does for me is overwhelm. BUT, lists are crucial. They just need to be broken up. I have two notebooks – one is my “work” life and one is my “home” life. Each evening, I plan out what goals I have for the following day – not the week or the month, just the day. I limit it to eight things. ONLY eight. (more on that in the “Getting Real” paragraph).

Use a timer. Make a schedule for yourself so you know that in fifteen minutes, you’re done answering emails/convos. You have twenty minutes to fold laundry – if it doesn’t get done, so be it. You have thirty minutes to get your packages ready for shipment, and so on and so forth. You will be amazed at how your day moves along and how you have accomplished more because you’re managing your time better. I take breaks between each “event” for fifteen, twenty minutes and have some tickle time with the kids or read them a book. It’s focused one-on-one time that is vital to them, especially, but it renews you, as well.

Clean up. Make sure your work area is always in order. Your shipping supplies are always neat, tidy and available. Your inventory is easily seen so you know when to reorder. Have your “to do” orders set by date so you know what to work on when.

Share your space. Set up an area in your work space with a small table, or just one of those lapdesks, with a little Rubbermaid container of washable crayons, envelopes, stickers, tape – anything that will keep your mini crafter(s) busy while you get your work done. They will be thrilled to be “working” with you.

Getting Real:

I’m sure we all feel that we could do it all (if everything worked out just right) and that we deserve to do it all (whatever that means), but, unfortunately, we are only one person, so we need to be realistic about our goals and expectations of ourselves.

When you sit down each evening and write out your goals for the next day – for both work and home – limit it to eight specific things. Say, for instance, on Monday, your goals for work are: 1- Research a new promotion lead (set timer for 30 minutes). 2 – Ccomplete two orders (set timer for one hour). 3 – Make line sheet for local wholesale opportunities (forty-five minutes)…and so on and so forth. You’ll have your “regular” items such as spending time working on shipments and convos – but you still need to have it on your list of the Eight goals The same for your “home” goals – if the timer goes off and you’re not done straightening up the bedroom – let it go. This keeps you focused and realistic and not self-defeated when your list isn’t necessarily complete. And yes, you will be interrupted by many things in between those ‘timer’ times – but that’s the magical thing about timers – they can be stopped and started right back up again when you are ready – but when the time is done, it is done. Lovely.

Getting Help:

I have been blown away by forum threads regarding unsupportive spouses. That is another article in the making because, honestly, you cannot succeed without support and support from your spouse is so crucial.

Make a deal with a neighbor or someone who lives close to trade off play dates. Look into getting a mother’s helper for the summer (girls around the age of 10-13 that come to your house while you are at home and entertain your children –they are far cheaper than babysitters or nannies because you are still home to manage the “big stuff” – like a puking child!).

If you can swing it, get a housecleaner to come just once a month for a thorough scrub down so all you have to do for the rest of the month is maintain.

Take up any and all offers of childcare or help of any sort without feeling guilty.

Getting Happy:

We had children because we knew it would fill our lives in a way nothing else can and, truly, they are glorious creatures, aren’t they? We opened a shop because we love the creative process and know how it feeds our souls. Remind yourself of that – constantly – and find your harmony.

(All photos in this post are courtesy of the Fabulous Artistic Moms team on Etsy)


skinner studio said...

What a great post! Finding balance and not feeling guilty are my biggest challanges. I love your idea of using a timer for different tasks, I am going to implement that right away. Thanks for taking the time to share all these wonderful tips.

UxCritter said...

This is a "Must See" blog post. I think everyone should read this! I am going to link to it on my blog sometime soon. This is really a must see post. Thanks for taking the time to share this GREAT INFO!

PetLoversBoutique said...

What a great blog post! I will try the timer this weekend and see how I make out. I'm excited. Thank you

MeganZ said...

wonderful post! I'm a list-maker and timer-fan already - I like to clean house in fifteen minute timer bursts. Your post is helping me see how to expand this! Thanks!

The Pretty Peacock said...

What would we do without our timers??!!! Thanks for the comment MeganZ!!!

Kylie B said...

Oh wow this is a fantastic Post, I have also bookmarked it to keep coming back to!

Thank-you! said...

It is very uself for everyone. I dont have kids yet and this article make me think about creating a day-schedule and follow it. Thank you!