By Cath Young
My name is Cath and I have creative business on Etsy called My Bearded Pigeon. I live with my husband who is a chef and our two girls, who are eight and almost three. Our girls are at such different stages, our eight year old is pretty self sufficient and can entertain herself. Our almost three year old.... not so much with the self-entertaining.
While I have been writing this post I have put a tutu on her and taken it off. Put dog ears and a tail on her and taken them off. Put them all back on her along with a "lead" and walked around the house with her saying 'c'mon doggie’ while she pants. So I know that lots of mums out there are asking - how do you manage running a small business when you have small children?
Step 1. Accept whole heartedly with all your might that the best plans in the world will be thrown into chaos at a moments notice. I am not saying I do this perfectly, but I am saying it is a thing I try to be better at. Kids will get sick, have nits, need help with homework, have a tantrum, want you to colour in, come outside, play in the sandpit - of course they do because they are your kids and they want to hang out with you!
Step 2. Let go of the guilt. You are ALLOWED to be frustrated when you really need to do things and your children have other plans. Take a deep breath and remind yourself you will get back to it later.
Step 3. Quickly write down your new ideas/inspirations in a notebook or in the notes of your phone because otherwise you will forget it and you will cry. From experience I can tell you that this will be tragic and sad when it happens.
Step 4. Get help. If you can afford to get a cleaner, get one. If you can get a friend to watch your kids for 2 hours and then maybe you have hers, that’s a good idea too. You are ALLOWED to get help, it is not a treat! You are a small business owner. You have THINGS TO DO!!
Step 5. Get up early or stay up late. When children are sleeping GET BUSY. You might get an hour or two or three. Children always sleep for 3 hours when you don't have much you need to get done and for 45 minutes when you have heaps to do. I have discovered, as I hurtle towards middle age, I don't actually need very much sleep - so I stay up late and get up early and probably lots of you are the same.
Step. 6 Acknowledge and accept if you have school aged children the hours of 9-3pm on weekdays are the fastest in the universe, what is up with that? Every day I am home I look at the clock and freak out because ALL OF A SUDDEN IT IS 2:30PM!!
Step 7. This is a business, think of it like that. Have to do lists, short term/long term, goals, plans etc etc WRITE THEM DOWN. I never get to the long term, like the stocktake I have been trying to do since January. I have about 200 different products in my shop and keeping track of everything is very time consuming, which leads me to...
Step 8. Have systems in place. Yes, pack multiple orders at a time on "packing day". Have a day where you get supplies ready, another day when you make things... break everything down into smaller tasks that may mean you can snatch 20 minutes here and there.
Step 9. Can you get outside? If you feel you are frustrated by constant interruptions - just step outside, take the kids and go out. Kick the ball, jump on the trampoline and just try to leave it for now. YES, this will be REALLY hard.
Step 10. It's not just WORK time. You may have your little one in preschool or day care of some kind so you can work on your creative business - that is brilliant - but you know what- it is ok to catch up with a friend for coffee in the time too. You are ALLOWED to still have time to yourself that doesn't involve your business.
Step 11. TV yes! Don't beat yourself up if your kids watch TV or play on the iPad while you send some emails - Play School is awesome. YOU ARE ALLOWED to have some time to get work done.
Step 12. TV NO! Speaking of the TV it is not your friend. The TV is dead to you. You will never watch it again. OK, you can watch a little bit but think of the potential hours of time you have to build your creative business! My husband works nights so I can always grab a couple of hours in a row of silence to work.
Step 13. Have or find an incredibly supportive partner who is ace. Or a supportive Mum. Or Bestie. Or Dog! Find someone to say "waaaahhhh!!! it's hard I'm not coping!!!" to and then they will say - “it is ok”.
Step 14. Choose your space. Initially I thought I needed a completely quiet space to work. I have a great studio where all my fabric is and a desk and cutting table and WIFI is and at the moment it's too far from the house to leave my girls so I moved the computer into the house. Now I work in noise and chaos a lot of the time. This means I can quickly do something in 5 minutes rather than waiting to get to the studio to do it. It works for me. If I need to get things done and the kids are wanting me to play I will often set the timer on my phone and say- "10 minutes" and they are getting better at leaving me for 10 minutes and when the timer goes off - I am up!
Step 15. Join the Etsy Creative Courage Challenge. The what? I tell you it is a GREAT THING! Have you ever thought about turning what you make into a business but you are a little bit nervous? Well sign up to Etsy Creative Courage Challenge and get some lessons and support and how to's and what not's! Myself, Pip Lincolne and Etsy are going to make you feel COURAGEOUS!! And help you kickstart your creative business and be HAPPY!
Cath is one of Australia’s most successful Etsy sellers. She opened her shop, My Bearded Pigeon, in 2010 after waking in the middle of the night with the idea to put maps on cushion covers. Since that night she has sold her map cushions, and many other products, all over the world and now employs her husband and a local seamstress to help her keep up with the demand for her products. Cath runs her thriving small business from her home in northern NSW where she lives with her husband, Neil, and two daughters.
Use code BLOGSOCIETYxCREATIVECOURAGE to receive 20 free listings on Etsy.