Alright. I'm planning to start posting my answers to your questions from last week & hopefully I can get through them all this week, but no promises. We'll see how it goes. :)
Many of you asked in one way or another: How do you get it all done?
So let's tackle this one today. But first, as far as the postcard set winner goes for this question...seven of you asked about this so I drew one name from that bunch and Anna gets the prize! :)
This is by far the number one question that I get asked when it comes to being a work at home mother selling in the handmade marketplace. Here's the answer....I don't. I don't get it all done. I do feel that I accomplish a lot & it's taken me a few years to figure out what works for us & what doesn't. Here are a few of my tips:
* You Don't Have to Do Everything. There are a lot of things that I don't do everyday. I don't wear makeup. I don't go shopping often for myself. I don't leave the house much at all. Don't start feeling sorry for me now. This is the way I like things. I like being at home. This gives me more time to do what I love the most. Hang out with my kids & make things.
* Don't expect yourself to be perfect & Keep a good mood. I really enjoy making & sewing. It makes me feel happy. Finding time to do this whether I'm making product for my shop or clothing for my kids makes me a happier person & a better wife & mother. But in order to find time to do this, I sometimes let other things go a little longer...like housework.
For me there is definitely a back & forth that goes on with housework & sewing. If I feel like all the mandatory chores are starting to weigh on me then I have to take some time to sew in order to keep a happy mood. On the flip side, if I have too many mandatory sewing obligations with shop orders, I have to take some time away to clean & organize the house in order to feel happy & sane. There is a balance that has to be watched & guarded.
Don't expect to do it all perfectly all the time. I am happiest when I listen to myself. I figure out what will make me happiest at the moment & do that. As long as I am moving forward, I am proud of myself. I don't have to measure myself against anybody elses standards, but my own. It is okay to work at my own pace. The last thing I need is to stress my own self out. There are plenty of other outside sources of stress. Bringing it on myself with unattainable expectations is a recipe for disaster.
Plus I'm making & selling my handmade goods because it's a way to earn an income while doing something I love. I do not want to feel stressed or unhappy doing what I love.
Keeping a good, happy mood will help you to work at a faster pace. Depression will stop you in your tracks for a few days. Make sure you take care of your mood & overall feeling of wellness. Exercise, eat right & listen to your needs. (still working on being better at exercising myself)
* Be organized. When trying to juggle family life & a business it is important to be organized. I struggle with this one for sure, but I've found that organizing my life helps me to accomplish more each day & wouldn't you know it....I feel really good about myself when I accomplish a lot.
Keep a schedule. I generally package & ship orders on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday mornings. I ship on Tuesday & Thursday because they are the least busy days at the post office & Saturday because I can leave the kids home with Dylan & I don't have to worry about them while I wait in line.
Most of my sewing is done after the kids go to bed at night. I typically sew about 5 nights a week. Dylan & I watch TV or movies & instead of laying on the couch while watching, I cut fabrics & sew.
I spend time in the morning answering e-mails & catching up on re listing any sold items. This is when I tend to write my blog posts as well. The rest of the day I will try to spend away from the computer, returning again in the afternoon when we all need a little quit time to ourselves. Sometimes I'll write a blog post for the next day or I'll upload new product photos or just browse.
I've also organized my fabrics & grouped them together in a way that works for me. In this photo the bottom bin holds smaller vintage fabric pieces for cutting flags from. The middle bin hold larger vintage pieces for quilts and pillows. the top bin holds some solid pieces. I have similar bins that hold fabrics for colorful banners as well. When I need to cut flags, I just grab the bin I need & it saves me time sifting through everything.
*Decide that your kids come first.
I work from home so that I can be with my kids. They come first. I walk away from what I'm doing multiple times. This goes for anything I'm doing. Whether it's shop work or house work. If they need something, I stop & get them what they need, then return back to it later. That's how life is with kids. There's no need to be angry about it or try to fight it. It's easier to just go with it.
I decided a while back that if I was doing shop work & the kids came to me asking me to play with them, I would stop what I was doing to play. They are only little once & I don't want to miss it. They need a mom that is involved with them, not a mom that always has her face in the computer or the sewing machine. The great thing about this work is that you can leave it when needed. And I believe that it's a good thing that you do leave it as often as needed.
* Find time here & there. At this point my kids are really used to what I do. They are used to going to the post office. They are used to seeing the sewing machine sitting on the dining room table. They don't turn knobs or pull the thread off my machine anymore. It's like a regular fixture to them & they don't cause trouble anymore when they see it. So I am able to sew sometimes during the day while they are busy doing other things.
I keep stacks of projects around. If I have 15 minutes before I need to pick up Sadie from school, I'll iron the flag pieces that are sitting on the ironing board. Or hand stitch part of a quilt binding. It seems like you're not doing much, but before you know it your project is done. Every little bit ads up. No matter what the pace, you're still moving forward & accomplishing little steps throughout the day.
My kids play really well together, so this gives me more opportunities to find time for shop work as well. When they are happily playing together, I can do some sewing & not feel guilty.
* Make multiples. Do not work on one item at a time. If you are making something, make a number of them. I'm currently working on 6 flag garlands at the moment. Rather than going through all the steps for one garland, I'm going through all the steps for six of them at the same time. You can get a lot more done this way.
I recently heard Dana of MADE say that if you are passionate about it, you will find time to do it. This is so, so true.
This may be the longest post in the world, but I hope it helps! :)