I used to be a workaholic. Before I had kids, I never said "no" to new projects and challenges - I was young and ambitious and loved working for a company everyone knows.
After maternity leave with kid #1, I was lucky to return to work part-time.
But I was still imagining the grass on the other side was greener. I dreamed of staying home with T, setting up Montessori-like activities and fun art projects. Going to the zoo mid-week. Not rushing to pick her up at daycare before the 6pm $1/minute-late fee deadline.
My dream came true last April. After my maternity leave with our second daughter I did not return to work. I felt like the luckiest woman in the world. This gave me the time and space I needed to learn how to parent two kids who often needed different things at exactly the same time.
It also allowed me to focus on my existing handcrafted jewelry business, and start this custom memory album service. Being only "Mama" during work hours is great, but I also need non-kid goals and projects. (Otherwise Type A Mama will choose the wrong time-wasting projects, like alphabetizing the spice drawer.)
But, as it turns out, "quitting my day job" came with its own set of stresses. (duh, I know!) I've been lucky to have a career in software that pays well for relatively easy work - I don't have to do hard physical labor, I get to use my brain and work with smart, mostly pleasant people.
We were prepared to take the hit to our income with me not working, but I still find it stressful that I'm not contributing nearly as much in that way. Especially when I think about things like the girls' college funds and my retirement savings - things that are far away but very expensive.
I love having my own businesses, but I find it extremely stressful to rely on just those for regular income. Some people chafe at working for "The Man", but I'm not one of them. I find that if I look hard enough, "The Man" allows me the flexibility I want, while paying me the more reliable salary I need.
To that end, I'm going back to work. But on my terms.
- 15-20 hours a week
- Working mainly from my home office (aka craft room)
- Short term consulting contract through October
- Nice hourly rate that accounts for not having benefits or paid time off
19 month old BabyM just started part-time daycare 4 days a week which is great for everyone. Big sister T finally gets to go to preschool for the full day instead of coming home at 11:30am, which was a sore spot for her. "Why can't I stay for Enrichment, Mama? I don't WANT to go home early!" So much for art projects at home, hah.
What does that mean for my artisan businesses? Well, I have to prioritize now. And what I realized is that while my hand-stamped custom gifts have really taken off (I had a stellar month in March- the best ever), they are not what I LOVE to work on.
Now that I'm about to earn a regular paycheck for boring stuff like landscaping, retirement and college savings, I can *choose* to focus my business activity on what makes me happy.
And that's the work I do here at The Papercraft Lab - helping people sort through their photos and pull out a cohesive story into a book they can enjoy for years.
Here's what my last two clients said after receiving their books:
I absolutely love it. I was in tears by the end. My mother loved it. You made her cry.
Right now I feel like the luckiest woman in the world. I got to stay home and realized I love it, but I learned that I also need to earn reliable income to be truly satisfied. I found part-time childcare that makes all of us happy. I have a business that I love and (finally!) ample space to work on it.
NOW is the right time to give this two kids + artisan business + software consulting plan a try. My new life starts next week!