You just know it would work out this way. Three weeks of fall break, three weeks of fun, canning, movie watching, and not a peep out of my large order customers. We’re talking crickets, folks. Crick-ets! Days before it ended, orders started rolling in right and left. What??? Now?! And it’s not just that orders started rolling in, but they came in with announcements of preorders. Three weeks of “Oh my gosh, I’m so bored!” now has given way to some serious hustle, right as we’re resuming our second term of school.
This past weekend was especially busy as I worked to fulfill last week’s orders. The biggest thing is, though, I wanted to clean off the dinette table. Two batches of soap, lotion bars, and lip balms, and there wasn’t room for a dirty thought on that table, let alone room for a person or four to sit and dine. In the midst of all this, I really want to put forward with the great cleaning-before-decorating thrust, as well as begin our holiday cooking. My girls like helping me cook, but the younger one, especially, just wants to sit down with me and watch a movie, read, or snuggle. It’s so hard finding the time to do everything while still attending to the family as they need, but over the years, I’ve developed my own tricks for making this work for us.
Lists. Lists help me visualize what tasks I need to accomplish in what order. I’m a bit obsessive in my list making, thinking always in a linear fashion: A then B then C then D… And D can’t happen until C happens. Lists are a great way for anybody to square up their work priorities, but it seals the deal when I’m trying to balance work and family life.
Working ahead. When it’s at all possible, I take an hour or two at a time to knock out something ahead of time. Maybe it’s a batch of soap that’s that customer’s standard order. Or perhaps it’s 100 tubes of lip balm for this customer. Those tasks don’t take a huge amount of time, but doing them sooner rather than later can free up a huge amount of pressure and stress later.
Prioritizing my day. When it comes to my day, what’s most important to me? Usually it’s breakfast, shower, exercise, and the girls’ education. Then what comes next? Production, newsletters, blog posts, marketing, website work. Somewhere in the midst of this comes a huge pair of brown eyes and a sweet voice saying, “Mom, can we _____?” No, not right now… Wait. What. Is. Important. To. Me? Is it crucially, vitally necessary that I change my slider on my website right now, or can it wait til tonight after the girls are in bed? The point at which I start making my business more important than my family is the point where I need to give up the business. The business will be around a while, but my daughters won’t be little girls forever.
Taking time away from the business. This was probably the hardest decision for me to make. Once upon a time, I was all about doing everything possible for my business and my customers, regardless of the sacrifices I had to make. I started last Christmas when I shut down my business for two weeks. I still received large orders from customers, but all that was required of me at those times was a quick email assuring them I’ll process their orders when we reopen. Once I made this decision, I realized it was the best one I could have made for my stress level and my family.
No. Such a small word with such great power! Actually, I say “no” by saying “yes.” To the last-minute request to add soaps to an order… “Sure, and I will add two days to your order processing time.” “I’ll happily take care of that after my vacation.” “I’ll process your order when we reopen early in January.” These boundaries are my way of saying, “No, I won’t let you make further demands on my time.” Work Me ends here, and Family Me begins here, and Family Me wants to savor this time.
Family Me is now in high demand, so Work Me has to clock out for a while.