There is always that question…”So what do you do?” or “What does your wife do?” direct at Ryan. I constantly get the response depending on the answer I give. Sometimes I give one answer, sometimes I give the other. When “Stay At Home Mom” is the answer the responses usually include, “Oh… So you’re a stay at home mother? What is it you do all day?,” accompanied with the undertone of a judgmental undertone. *insert banging head against the wall* On the other token when I say “I work from home and take care of A” I have gotten a lot of “Oh….You work from home? How do you do both?” with the undertone of maybe I’m not being the best mother I can be or “how the hell do you have the time for that?” There have been some “that’s really great you are able to do both” and some “that’s so wonderful you get to stay home with A, what a great opportunity” but truthfully those have been less than the others.
The other day those two question, the responses I get, bothered me a bit – both because no matter which question, it gives the feeling that the other person doesn’t think I do enough. The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t matter what they really think – it isn’t their business. I still proceeded to sit down and write out what I do. I needed to do it for me, I guess to feel more at peace and confident so I could have it in black and white, full clarity of what I do, so I wrote down all of the roles I play within the person that I am. I wrote down what those things involved, how much of my time they take up my time and what priority I ranked.
Many people know me as a business woman, they met me through business working, I’m their business consultant, or play a variety of other roles within their businesses. There are others that are close in our lives that if you asked what I do they would probably say “uh, I’m not really sure – I know she works from home runs an online shop and another business but I’m not exactly what exactly she does with that.” There are some that would tell you, “she stays at home with her daughter”.
It doesn’t matter how it’s worded, it’s all the truth. The truth is…
What exactly does that mean? It means that my full time job, my top priority, is being a mama to A (and any future babies if we are so blessed). That’s always been the plan, that’s how we started planning for that even before we got pregnant. It’s my favorite job. It means that I also sometimes work from home.
Being at stay at home mom has been the best change I’ve made. It’s also changed the way I do business. I quit going to business networking meetings and events. I do less in-person consultations, and more over the phone or virtual meetings, and when I do go to meetings A’s my co-pilot. I now run my business solely off of the connections I made in the 4 years of networking and their referrals, along with online networking. That’s it. The clients that I have understand that I have my family as the very first priority on my list. They keep coming back because they know I’m good at what I do and they have an understanding and respect for what I do.
It’s been a big adjustment over the past 8 months to find balance. At the beginning A slept a lot more as a newborn, it was easier to be more productive and get stuff around the house done and get business stuff done, but my schedule has continuously changed. Within recent months she has been awake more, and much more active with crawling, getting into things and most recently starting to walk. This also means that I push back my deadlines a little bit further just in case. It also means that a job I’m billing 2 hours for will sometimes take me 6 hours or longer to complete because instead of pushing through my day has play times, afternoon walks and longer lunch/snack breaks – and truthfully, I like this new routine. I’m okay with things taking longer, it’s been good for me to learn to slow it down a bit.
It means I set boundaries for myself for the business. It means I work less and I play more. It means I work during nap times and that also means I have to be more focused to get things done productively. It also means that I have a flexible schedule. Sometimes it means I work in the evenings or like on Monday morning where I spent a half hour multi-tasking to help a client meet their last minute deadline for today, July 31st for a project for one of their biggest accounts. Where I sat there on the phone, at my computer listening to my client, helping them make the changes needed for their project, all the while keeping an eye on A toddling around playing with every noisy toy in the room. But it worked for me, for A and it worked for the client. It worked because there is a mutual understanding across the board that I don’t make it a habit to work all the time when A is awake, and a mutual understanding that the client of 6 years is on my priority list, there is something ahead of that just – being a mama to my daughter. They know I’m a mama first. That is something I never beat around the bush about. Yes, sometimes that means a potential client finds help elsewhere, and that’s okay, that’s part of the gig. This also means sometimes I delegate out to other businesses that can help with their needs, or sometimes means I contract out the job. I also know when it will be time to hire on someone else to help with the work load.
For the shop, I create custom pieces when I have time, I make Smelly Jellies when the orders roll in. Orders still get out in the same amount of time, they are just sprinkled into my days a little bit different. It works for me.
When I run my businesses this way, I feel better. I’m less stressed, I am more efficient and I feel more at peace with myself. When I run my businesses this way I know I’m being the best mama and wife that I can be. I know my family is getting the attention they deserve to be getting and all is right with the world. The truth is, it always works out. It seems like God sends me the clients and projects I need when I’m meant to have them, and that makes me happy. So that’s what I do folks, I am a full time mama, and a part time work a home mama – and I. Love. It.