Balancing Family and Home Business
Though I’ve written about this in the not too distant past, I had the opportunity to speak with a local MOPS group about working from home earlier this week, and wanted to take a minute to talk about how we make it work at our house.
Wallypop currently takes about 30 hours a week total. This includes order processing time, sewing, inventory management, paperwork, regulatory requirements, cursing the government re: regulatory requirements, accounting, email, etc. Generally, this does not include blogging or Facebook time – I tend to do that stuff during odd moments during the day.
That’s a lot of time, but it doesn’t really seem like it most weeks.
Mornings are breakfast then homeschooling. Genna plays or reads or draws or sits on my lap during this time, and I do things like wash the dishes (by hand, we do not have a dishwasher) and clean in that week’s designated “zone” (a la Flylady) during his work-alone times. We pick up as we go, so we don’t end up with a lot of just “stuff” scattered about.
Whenever we finish school, we make a snack for the afternoon and fix lunch and start dinner (if it’s Tuesday or Thursday, which are my days for dinner). And then we head downstairs, usually by 1. I work until 4 or 5. I take breaks as needed. I emphasize to the kids that they need to get along. They play, usually nicely. Sometimes not so nicely. Sometimes one or both stays upstairs. Wally takes pretty good care of his sister, most of the time. Sometimes, nobody gets along and both kids actually try to annoy each other on purpose and those days are super fun.
Evenings are for family time. Weekends are for family time. With my two exceptions: a half day each weekend is for working, and Thursday night is for working.
We also try to do some sort of activity each week (like the zoo or the science center or something fun at home) and we generally spend one afternoon and evening a week with friends.
As far as emotional balance… some weeks, it’s harder than others. Some weeks I feel like I’m failing at everything, and some weeks it seems like I’m super awesome at everything. Some times, I worry that all my kids are going to remember from their childhood is mommy sewing, or mommy on her computer. (But I know plenty of parents who do not work from home who could say the same thing!) Some weeks, I am more patient than others. Some weeks, I can
Also? Someone asked at the MOPS meeting if the kids help. I am afraid my answer sounded less than charitable, so now I feel the need to explain. No, my kids don’t help with Wallypop. Wally does do most of the chores for Boulevard Farm, and he asks on occasion to help with Wallypop stuff, but he’s just not quite old enough at this point. I honestly can’t come up with a way for him to help in any meaningful way that wouldn’t result in my needing to go back and double check.
He’s 7. I can send him to go brush his teeth and get dressed, and it’s a 50/50 shot whether he comes back dressed and with clean teeth. So, packing orders? Not so much. He’s not great at cutting. I have no confidence that he’d put the shipping labels on straight. He just needs another year or two. (And he is learning to sew, but obviously he won’t be helping in that sense for a LONG time.)
Genna wants to help mama at the sewing machine. And I try to discourage this. Not only because it’s uncomfortable for me (particularly with this big belly!), but because it becomes a safety issue. She wants to help hold the fabric as I sew, and she wants to push the buttons on the machine (I have a button for needle down, and I have a button for Cut Thread). MOST of the time, she’s really good about keeping her hands away from the needle. But her little hands are so fast and she doesn’t realize the danger involved. I just don’t want to see her get her little finger caught. (Also, there’s the fact that her help at this point just slows me down. I am happy to have the kids helping/slowing things down with just about anything else – cooking, cleaning, folding laundry, whatever – but I’d really rather get the working finished up so that we can move on to activities that they will actually enjoy more.)
So that’s how we do it. Working at home looks different for each family, and working at home has looked different for our family over the years. I’m sure this whole plan here will change once this new baby comes, but I”m confident we’ll figure it out and settle into yet another new normal.