Monday, March 22, 2010

:: how my garden grows (aka the secret post) ::

you may or not remember, since it was a long time ago now, but i was planning on doing a little "let's go step by step through the blog redesign process" post, but here i am a month later (oh, dear, i guess it's more like six+ weeks -- where does the time go???) and i haven't done it and the truth is? now i've sort of already forgotten the steps i went through, the iterations i tried.

i'm sorry that i didn't capture it all. but in a way it's kind of appropriate that i didn't.

i've been getting a lot of questions lately about "my secret," as in wow, you're running a growing indie business and raising two small kids and keeping a marriage happy and together, what is your secret???

my secret is that i have a lot of help and i let a lot of things go, and not just detailed blog posts about design processes.

i pretty much don't do dishes, for example. i leave all of those for my husband. he also does the grocery shopping since emily was born. and most of the cooking (i don't cook. never have. this has nothing to do with my business secrets). he's a lawyer and works late sometimes and a couple of nights a week has night court, plus he's our fixer and landscaper and plumber and all. he's pretty freaking busy. so when he can't do things like buy & cook food, we order out or make do. i'm skilled at last-minute grilled cheese and at heating up chef boyardee for evan (tomato sauce = vegetables, folks..).

i cannot overemphasize how lucky i am to have a spouse who is willing both to help with so many of the things i have to let go in order to be a mommy and a worker bee and to overlook any of the things he's not able to help with.

because yeah, i pick up around the house only as needed. anything one of us will trip over gets moved. unfinished food gets put away (usually) because i'm afraid if i leave it out evan will eat it and get sick, but otherwise i don't do too much picking up throughout the day. floors get swept occasionally (we have hardwoods throughout) but more often get spot dust-bustered as needed. i do the laundry in spurts and clothes get sorted and put away whenever evan is willing to play by himself or to help (he actually really loves sorting and is so proud to put his own clothes away in his dresser). i try to keep up with the clutter by having evan help me pick up his toys around the house before bed. when i remember.

work-wise, i organize only as much as helps and no more. i don't waste time doing things like keeping detailed records that i don't actually need to keep. i keep what i need at hand to save time -- time getting to what i need, time putting things back where they belong.

my current exercise-of-choice is anything i can do with the kiddos. if i can get them out for a walk then my exercise for the day is taking a walk. if it's too cold for that or if evan is too ornery for a walk then my exercise consists of living room dance parties (evan's a big fan of fatboy slim and modest mouse), of pretending to be a lion or a firefighter or a dinosaur, of carrying kids up stairs, of fake swimming in the fake ocean, or of lots and lots of situps performed while sitting near a playing child (a former gymnast, i actually love doing situps and all kinds of ab exercises and can figure out a way to do ab work pretty much no matter where i am or what i am doing). i'd really like to have more time to exercise. i used to do 5 and 10Ks and triathlons and long-distance bike rides. i used to swim at the Y. i used to go to yoga every week and kept up a home practice, too. but the way i see it, the time will come for those things again one day. right now i'm choosing to focus on other things.

that's pretty much how it goes with everything.

i work in the mornings before brian leaves for work (answering emails, packaging things, relisting sold items, etc.), during any and all kid naps, and from the moment the kids go to bed until the moment it's time for me to. at night brian helps me when he can, and i try to save mindless tasks for last so that i can chat or watch TV with him. all other times are more or less devoted to the kids and the house. i can't remember the last book i read or the last magazine i flipped casually through. i work all weekend (thanks to my husband, my mom, and my in-laws) practically non-stop.

as a general rule i don't work with the kiddos around except on the weekends when their dad is home and sort of "in charge" of them while i work. during the week, though, i try not to work much during the day. it really just makes them and me frustrated and it's not very efficient anyway. i do break the rule sometimes, just like all rules get broken, and that's okay. sometimes it means evan gets to watch an extra episode of dinosaur train, sometimes it means i find small ways for him to help me. i figure as long as i don't do it very often it's not a big deal when i do. i actually kind of like the idea of my children seeing me work sometimes.

along those lines, everything i need for the day-to-day operation of the business is housed in the living and dining rooms. i have an attic office but it's just not convenient for me with the two kids around. my printer's set up next to our dining room table. my desk is right in the middle of everything. i work on a laptop so that i can be ready to work wherever the opportunity arises.

oh, and i don't shower everyday. i don't even always shower every other day, although this is something i admit hesitantly and hope to change. the thing is, sometimes it's a choice between showering in the morning or packing up the last few orders to go out, and i choose the orders because i can always shower some other time but i have to get the orders ready before brian leaves for work or else i have to take two kids with me to drop them in the post office's mailbox because our guy (on a walking route) doesn't pick them up.

and sometimes i don't get them all ready or there are international orders that need customs forms and so i take both kids to the post office. evan actually loves it. i worked so hard to make it seem like this big fun exciting thing that now even when someone offers to stay home with him so i can go alone he cries and cries and i end up having to take him along.

i wish my secret were a little bit sexier. i wish it were more sustainable certainly. because truthfully, it's not. i can't keep going like this for all that much longer, and neither can brian. as my little business grows i'm going to need to make new choices: what to outsource, what to reconfigure, what to embrace and what to let go. and just when i've gotten all that figured out, i'm sure my circumstances will change again. evan will go off to school, and then emily. my business will change and shift and grow in ways i can't anticipate yet. new problems will arise and i'll find new solutions.

maybe the secret is that i'm willing. i'm willing to figure out how to make it all work. i'm willing to take myself and my business seriously enough to ask for help, and lots of it.

and also i really really love it.

- - -
i've got some specific tricks and tips to share, too. i'll try to intersperse those with my "regular" posts over the next few weeks. but of course, you'll have to bear with me.
- - -
also, i would love it if you'd write up your own little "how i make it all work" post and then share it with me. i'm fascinated by how people make life work, accomplish amazing feats, etc. do share!


Molly/Charlotte's Fancy March 22, 2010 at 11:00 PM  

This is a great, thoughtful post.

I don't have an Etsy shop or sell anything like so many of my favorite bloggers out there, but I do have a full time job that I juggle with my family (two girls) and a self-imposed commitment to write a blog post each day. A lot of what you wrote is true for me too: a husband who cooks and grocery shops and is a great partner; prioritizing tasks and letting some things go. Also, my girls are a little older (6 and 9) and spend a lot of time reading and doing other self-motivated projects, which gives me enough time to do work or write in the evenings (and get some exercise too).

I am guessing that a lot of small business owners and handmade artists are able to do what they do because they have great partners and/or supportive and helpful family and friends. Which is nice, you know?

lesley [smidgebox] March 22, 2010 at 11:22 PM  

this is a wonderful post! thank you for sharing your life :)
I feel like we are on the same lifeline for so many of these points! my husband also cooks, grocery shops half the time, does dishes. helps bathe + bed the kids. looks after them half the weekend [we've committed to one family only day]. i also rarely work while the kiddos are around, but naps and after bed are chock full. it's comforting to know that many others are in the same boat, though i too wonder how long it's sustainable for me? our son is off to K next year, so that should open up some time for me :)
Congrats on your success, and I really enjoyed catching a glimpse into your "real" life!

Isa Maria March 23, 2010 at 5:07 AM  

Thank you for sharing! It is definatley not easy running a business from home with children. I only have one at the moment but another on the way. I am also lucky to have a great husband who helps around the house, loves to cook, clean and play with our son while I get work done. My husband works shifts so we have no real structure in the house which I am craving. I am trying to fit in more cleaning and meal planning etc but I also need to grow my business. If you had told me a few years ago that I too wouldn't be showering everyday I would have said ew but hey sometimes you have to prioritise. I love reading your blog because you are so honest, so thank you!

Cassie March 23, 2010 at 5:56 AM  

All I can say is WOW! You are one very busy, productive and efficient lady!

Julie March 23, 2010 at 8:43 AM  

Thank you so much for sharing! I wish I could work in the morning, that would be so lovely. Since my work area is tucked away in a corner of our bedroom, I can't. I can not wait for my room to be finished in the basement, oh how lovely that will be so that I can get things done before everyone wakes up and then not feel the need to work during the daytime.
Lovely post, seriously, thank you!

julie green March 23, 2010 at 8:47 AM  

oh, other julie, i have misled you. i so do not wake up early. can't handle it. i barely drag myself out of bed at the last possible moment, usually a minute or two PAST the last possible moment. then i work through breakfast and while evan watches curious george.

i marvel at the folks who get up early to do things in a quiet house.

me? i need sleep. i need more than i get, but i try to get seven hours a night. i can't burn the midnight oil and i can't beat the birds up.

Allisa Jacobs March 23, 2010 at 9:41 AM  

fantastic post!
here's one i wrote on just how it gets done...and some tips to work at home.

ps. it's always a treat visiting your blog :)

Allisa Jacobs March 23, 2010 at 9:42 AM  

oh, drat. here's my link:

Bego March 23, 2010 at 10:05 AM  

wow, amazing!
I also have a hectic life (anyway, who doesn't nowadays?) and my secret is to keep an hour a day for me, just to do the things i really enjoy doing without worrying about anything else.

Anonymous March 18, 2011 at 1:14 PM  

Awesome style. I wish I could write that way.