Being a successful retail store owner and mom has taught me one thing – I can’t help others live an organized life and run an organized and successful business unless I practice what I preach and first get my house in order.
The truth is my family and loved ones need me. My kids need mommy time, laundry is overflowing, bed linen needs changing, and at some point, I need to get my beauty rest.
My customers and clients also need me. My inbox currently has 16,460 unread messages between seven Gmail accounts. Hey, don’t judge. Things magically get done around here. But emails do need to be answered; merchandise needs to be purchased, marketing needs to happen, speaking engagements need to be booked, social media accounts need to be updated and managed, this book needs to be finished one day and the list goes on.
So how do I successfully balance being a full-time mom and running a boutique all between drop-off and pick-up?
The truth is, there’s nothing glamorous about being a work-at-home-mom. Yeah, I said it. Working at home is a challenge and is sometimes a frustrating experience. I’m often asked, “How do you manage everything?” Apparently, I make life look way too easy. Well let me tell you, sister, balance is a fairy-tale word. If I am ahead of schedule and crushing my work goals, my house is probably a disaster zone, and dinner is likely takeout. If my house looks Pinterest-perfect, I’m most likely behind on work. Working from home is always a give and take, and balance is rarely achieved. I’m no longer concerned about finding a balance, but more about whether I enjoy my life and if it’s what I truly want, dysfunctional chaos and all.
When I made the decision to work from home, I envisioned days of working in my yoga pants that have never actually seen a yoga class, sipping chai tea before my lunchtime drive-by at Target and still somehow be full of energy when the kids came home from school and daycare. No one warned me that 8 hours isn’t enough time and there will always be unchecked boxes at the end of the day.
Working from home means zero adult conversation between 9-5 most days. There’s no spare time to run errands. Everyone expects you to be available, and at times run their errands, but you never have free time. The house is usually a hot mess until 15 minutes before my husband gets home from work. I’m one of those old school wives who believe if I’m home all day, there’s no reason my husband should walk into a messy house, even if the kids destroy it 15 minutes later. Dinner needs to be made every night but sometimes takeout happens. Homework time is longer than it needs to be thanks to Common Core. I always have loose ends to tie up at the end of the day. My solution, of course, is to stay up late until everything is done.
It’s true, most days seem crazy, and I may or may not find bacon bits in my hair. But I wouldn’t trade my life for the world. I enjoy the freedom of being my own boss, picking and choosing how and where to devote my time and resources, and working when no one else is around. I have the flexibility that enables me to volunteer, attend my kid’s functions, enjoy lunch with my girlfriends, attend networking events and still get the job done.
Today I thought you might enjoy taking a peek into my crazy little world. Let’s go, because I’m running late as usual and we have things to do…
But first, bacon….
6:00 am – Snooze. I need 15 more minutes pleazzze
6:15 am – Turn on Morning Joe to see what’s going on in the world.
6:30 am – Hello iPhone. Time to check in. Wait, what day is it again? Kailey, I don’t hear the shower running.
6:45 am – School uniform and hygiene check.
7:00 am – Knock, knock. It sounds like Kirby & Keegan are up. Oh no, you both need baths. Hurry, hurry!
7:20 am – Time to load up and drop Kailey off at school.
7:45 am – Breakfast finally.
8:00 am – Conference call while juggling bacon, babies, and business.
8:30 am – Oh, and remember that laundry? Move it to the dryer and start another load. And Keegan found an old French fry on the floor. Now is probably a good time to sweep and mop AGAIN. Oh and don’t forget the dishes in the dishwasher that I keep running through because I’m too lazy to unload.
9:30 am – It’s Paw-Patrol.
10:00 am – Time to load up again and drop Keegan off at daycare.
And then there is one.
10:15-11:00 am – This is when I run most of my errands (post office, gas station, banking, etc.)
11:00 am – Time to open the store. I complete my morning routine while Kirby watches Sesame Street on the iPad.
11:30 am – Lunch time. Of course, Kirby doesn’t want anything I packed. Chick-fil-A it is.
12:00 pm – Homeschool. My workspace is part classroom and part office. Kirby gets to learn the fundamentals while observing how to run a retail store all at the age of two.
1:00 pm – Naptime. I’m very grateful my kids love naps just as much as I do.
1:00 – 4:00 pm – This is when the bulk of my work gets done. I time block and go through my to-do list, handling one task at a time. Remember it’s not about completion. It’s about making progress.
I juggle my admin tasks while I handle customers in and out of the store.
6:00 pm – The first half of my work day is coming to an end. Time to close and clean the shop and prep my workspace for the next day. Pick Keegan up from daycare, conquer homework, make dinner, and spend some time with the ones I love.
7:00 pm – Dinner and baths.
7:30 pm – Put the kids to bed.
9:00 pm – Power on. Last minute email/social media check.
10:00 pm – Lights out.
The worst part about being self-employed is there is no such thing as paid leave or maternity leave. Sure you’re the boss. You can take off as little or as much time as you desire. But the buck starts and stops with you
I’ve always considered myself seasoned at multi-tasking. However, it’s sobering to note that when baby Keegan arrived over a year ago, I worried about how I would manage the transition to life as a working mom of two daughters almost a decade apart and an infant.
Juggling a new baby, a business and family life is by far one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. My personal and professional life has changed tremendously in the past year. The truth is, I’m exhausted. I’ve never been so busy, so overwhelmed, but yet so driven by my successes and even my failures.
Here I sit, with a STEM-loving 11-year-old, a feisty 2-year-old, and a 1-year-old cuddle buddy, with the same fears but the proper tools to help me through it.
Here are four sanity savers that help me through the day:
– Backup, backup, backup. Call in reinforcements early. It’s no secret I think my husband is a rock star. He often volunteers to be me for a day so that I can work uninterrupted. When the Marine Corps calls, and I’m left solo parenting my village makes a huge difference. Reach out and connect with moms in similar situations. There is no better feeling than having friends who you can count on for support and be one another’s support team.
– Say no and delegate. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and there is no rule that states you have to build your empire in an hour. Sometimes people ask you to do things not because they can’t but because they don’t want to. If your schedule is too busy, be honest and say “no” or “not right now.”
– Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s ok if my house is messy for a couple of days. It’s ok if I grab takeout because I didn’t have time to cook. It’s ok if I hang out on the sofa for a day or two to regroup.
– Take your time and set boundaries. I love my work, but I also know that my children will only be little for so long. It’s much easier said than done, but I try to keep my role as mom and businesswoman separate, giving each my undivided attention for a set amount of time.
At the end of the day, I just want my husband and children to feel most loved and taken care of over my accolades and piles of laundry. I am fully accountable for the well-being of my family and how much love I put into my role as a wife and mom.
So there you have it. Now, how do I keep this train moving?