People ask all the time, how I manage running a store and raising a child. I don't have all the answers, but I'm happy to share what has worked for my family.
To give you a little back story, I was a nanny/ babysitter for 27 years. I started when I was 10 years old, babysitting full time one summer, 9-5. I would set my alarm each day, get myself up and ride my bike to work, five days a week. I didn't stop caring for children until I was 7 months pregnant with Tom Otis, at the age of 36. I got my BS in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Florida and I taught school while taking night classes through graduate school.
Over that time, I've seen a lot of what not to do, what doesn't work and I've made sure to do things differently with my own child. I think one of the most important things I've seen work for us, is that we got Tom on a regular schedule starting at 6 weeks old. I knew he would wake up to feed two hours later, but we still started him on the bedtime routine. Each night, around 5:30, we would give him a bottle, then head to the bath, followed by reading him a story, signing a song and swaddling him. We would make the room very dark, turn on a sound machine and lay him down to sleep, awake. Starting this so early allowed him to learn how to fall asleep on his own. He will be three in June and never once have I rocked him to sleep nor has he cried at bedtime to fall asleep. We have listened to him sing himself to sleep, talk himself to sleep, but never cry himself to sleep. This goes for nap time too. We lay him down at the same time each day (or now his school does) and its been great for us. He has never wondered what is coming next, because if I'm late, he guides the next transition. Children need to know what's coming next because this world is so new to them. They find complete comfort in structure. For me, this schedule has been crucial. I know when to schedule meetings, I know how much time I have to work in the mornings before Tom wakes, I know how much work I can fit in after he goes to sleep. His schedule has allowed me to be very organized at home and at work. I think, and again, this is just my own opinion, this has allowed me to run my business successfully. I know when I can take time off and be with my family and what I need to do each day to stay on top of things with the shop. I now have two brick and mortars, with a third on the way, and the online store. I oversee a staff and still work in the flagship shop two days a week. I run other businesses as well and I know I wouldn't be able to without having my son on a schedule. Imagine me canceling design meetings or not be able to package online orders, up to this point, because my son wouldn't nap or I couldn't get out the door because he was up until 9:30 and in return, didn't wake up until 8:30. I wouldn't be a reliable businesswoman if this was the case. I know part of the joy of working for yourself is the freedom to set your schedule. That's not the case when you are running a shop, as you can't make up shop hours as you go. I truly believe that the creatives that do work for themselves, the ones that set office hours and stick to it, are the most successful, even if you don't have children yet, rather than working here and working there, with a different schedule every day.
Some (mostly business) things I do to stay organized....
- All of my work bags and Tom's school needs are by the door the night before.
- I have a great planner and I write everything down. I'm not into google calendars and phone alerts. I'm more likely to remember everything if it's written down. And I look at my calendar everyday, even I'm sure there's nothing pressing that day.
- I check emails in the morning and respond to the most pressing in order.
- I pay all invoices as soon as I receive them. I don't like the idea of owing money, so I get those out of the way. I also don't do Net 30 again, because I don't like to think about owing money. It's made it better for sales because I can have a slow day and not feel like I'm going to go under because I can't pay my Net 30 invoice. This is a mental thing, I'm sure.
- I use Monday as my home day- I grocery shop, clean the house, do laundry, weed the flower beds, etc...
- As soon as an online order comes in, I mail it out within two days, (or as close to that as possible). I used to only mail things out one day a week. This didn't feel effective for me. I felt like I was procrastinating and then I had a build up each Tuesday of orders. Now I swing by the post office every day, and can get in and out in 10 minutes rather than the 45 minutes it used to take. I know that 45 minutes is stretched out to equal the same amount of time, but I'd rather give up 10 minutes a day rather than 45 on one given day. Maybe this too is mental, but it's what works for me.
- I leave line sheets that I want to order from on my desktop and I don't take them off until I've placed my new orders.
- Since I stay organized with work, when I pick Tom up from school at 3, I'm free to just be with him the rest of the day. After he goes to bed at 6:30, I have time to cook dinner for my husband and myself. Then I might respond to West Coast emails (those seem to come in around 7pm my time) or social media after dinner, but it's so nice that we get some downtime together each night.
I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I'm happy to tell you what's worked for me. So I ask, what's worked for you? I'd love to hear.