Running a Business, Being a Mom, and Attempting Balance

A little while back I sent out a survey to gauge interest on what you were most interested in learning about, and I was surprised by some of the answers. As it turns out, there are more of you out there than I imagined that are curious about how I run my business and how I got to where I am today.

This is a big and winding topic, so I think it’s going to take a few posts. But today I want to share with you how my business looks today so you have an idea of what I actually do and how I do it before we dive into the messy windy road that came before. OK, here goes nothing!

First things first, here’s what my life looks like so you know where I’m starting from:

  • I have a one-year old son named Otto, and I stay home with him. He still (most of the time) takes two naps a day that are only about an hour long if I’m lucky.

  • Otto wakes up around 5-6am everyday. (I say this because all of the “how you get shit done and be a mom” blogs say to get up before your kids do. NO THANKS.)

  • My mother lives a few blocks away and comes over for a few hours most days to help watch Otto while I work.

  • I am married to a man who works full time out of the home, but can take a day off when I’m losing my mind.

  • I do my best not to work on the weekends and in the evenings if at all possible because time with my family is sacred.

Obligatory cute baby pic, Otto Riley at 7mos. Photo by Pure North Photography

Most of you are probably wondering how I make money as a small business owner. I know most people have a lot of hang ups about talking numbers, but I am happy to be pretty transparent about it. In all honesty, only about ⅓ of my income came from my calligraphy business in 2018.

My other sources of income are:

  • Ines & Marie Events. I am an Event Design & Coordinator with them and I take on ~5 contracts a year to fully plan weddings.

  • Freelance Event Planning. Since I have transitioned from working full time at the University of Michigan to running my business, I have taken on a few event planning contracts with U-M.

So basically I piece these things together in order to make a part time income, since I am only able to work so many hours a week while also taking care of Otto. One of the biggest challenges I have had since having a baby & a baby business is TIME and SCHEDULING. Because wedding planning is such a long process, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when on the calendar I am going to have slower weeks. For the most part I know when it is going to be bonkers busy, and I know not to take on additional calligraphy contracts, but it is tougher to know when I’m going to want the additional work or when it’s going to stress me out even more.

The one thing scheduling hack I do with my calligraphy biz is block scheduling. I heard about this from Katrina at Blushed Design, who has great resources for business owners. She also has a little one, so I knew that it was worth a try. With block scheduling I consider each week a block of time. In each block or week I only take one job. No matter the size. This way I can fit the job into my week however it flows best and I’m not screwed over if I’m sick, Otto’s sick, or grandma isn’t able to come over and help.

This isn’t fool proof, but it definitely helps keep the insanity at bay. I use my Google Calendar to block full weeks off so that when an inquiry comes in I know when to say no. I also utilize my email signature to list those booked dates so that when I get an email inquiry they know right whether I am likely booked or not for the time slot they are needing work done. This helps me not panic if I don’t get back to someone within a day or two.

When Otto stops breastfeeding (soon, I hope) and is down to one nap (not soon, I hope) I’m sure this will look a little bit different, but I plan to use the same scheduling tools to keep myself sane. In the past I have tended to love and thrive off of the hustle, but my body is severely rebelling against this way of life and needing a break from being everything to everyone all of the time. Can anyone relate?

I truly don’t believe there is a one size fits all solution to running a business/being a full time parent simultaneously. Everyone has their own route and strategies for what works for them and their kiddos. If you are a business owner and a parent, how do you make it work? Any advice or strategies you’d like to share?

xx Meg