I think every business owner's story is an underdog story. Most of us worked for someone else, spent our days dreaming of working for ourselves, and usually through a significant change in their life – either forced or voluntary – they finally take real steps towards that dream being a reality. It’s rarely a smooth road, it’s usually a bumpy, curvy, pothole-laden road that can take a long time to get down. Lots of people have asked me about my own journey, so I thought I’d share it in a fun, timeline-style post – showing you that the big transition from day job to self-employed is not a quick or easy one. It takes time, work, and a whole lot of patience.
Hi my name is Kelsey, and I’m a workaholic. How does that saying go – entrepreneurs work 80 hours a week for themselves, so they can avoid working 40 hours a week for someone else. Couldn’t be more true! I’ve always been a workaholic, whenever it’s work I’m passionate about. So when Paper + Oats got off the ground in 2013, the workaholic in me was in overdrive. The day I became a mother (and a single one, at that) was the day I knew my workaholic schedule was about to change forever.
I’ll cut to the chase: sharing your story with a bunch of strangers on the internet can be down right scary. A little over a year ago, I had no blog and had just opened my business Instagram account with my teeny tiny following. No one knew my name, much less what I had been through in the two years prior. But I had an inkling to write, and I knew I needed to finally start blogging. Not just for my business, but for my own journaling of sorts – to keep a record of this wild journey of entrepreneurship and motherhood.
All morning I’ve been fighting with a toddler to eat her breakfast. Just eat. the dang. toast. She’s a little stubborn – like her mama. And her mama’s mama. And her mama’s mama’s mama. The little stubborn thing celebrated her second birthday last weekend, and as she spent most of the day with her dad, it was a bittersweet day for her mama. These early birthdays are more of a celebration for the parents than the kids, right? Celebrating the fact that you’ve kept another human alive for 2 whole years. Celebrating the fact that you’re still somewhat sane and standing upright.
A lot of people ask me how I get any work done with that cute pig-tailed girl hanging out with me all day. That’s a great question. Some days I don’t get a lot done because of all that cuteness. Some days I don’t get a lot done because behind all that cuteness is a strong-willed, feisty girl who tests my patience. Some days I do get a lot done because she’s in a good mood and entertains herself well. Some days not. That’s the beauty and curse of being a single, work-at-home mompreneur: every day is different.
Babies. Babies are hard. Babies are sweet and precious and cuddly and a blessing, but babies are really really hard. Add maintaining a business, and babies get even harder. BUT, the cool thing about babies is they give you some lead time before they get here. My pregnancy, albeit an emotional one, was an instrumental period of time for my business. I knew I had nine months to build P+O into something that could help sustain a life for my daughter and me.
If you're a mom and a business owner, you've felt it. You've been up at the crack of dawn powering through emails and cups of coffee. You're trying to get as much done before that little voice starts chanting from the other room. But then you hear it. The kids are up. But you've got 3 more emails to reply to, so you sit on the floor of the playroom while they drop toys next to you and reach for the keyboard. They're like little adorable vultures, aren't they? If you ever stop and look around at a moment like that, there's another monster lurking in the room, and its name is Mommy Guilt. And it's the worst.
Business + personal crisis. This is a topic that has been on my mind since the day I decided to launch The Oat Bar. I knew I wanted to write about it, but every time I sat down to do it, the words just weren’t quite there. The more I put it off, the more I saw posts popping up inFacebook groups with other boss ladies – women asking for advice on how to keep running their business in the midst of a tragedy that was just dumped on their lap. Most of the time, the comments poured in and it was so encouraging to see strangers come together to give support and motivation to a struggling fellow business owner. They shared their stories of heartache and how they managed to keep their businesses afloat – strength in numbers :) After a few of these posts, and not a lot of writing flowing in my camp, I decided to turn the tables around and ask a few ladies to jump in on the topic.
I’ll be frank, single parenting is lonely. You don’t have a built-in helper, you don’t tag-team it, you don’t get many breaks, and not many other mamas really "get it." One thing I’ve learned in my first year as a single parent is that it’s super important to make memories with your kids and document them somehow. Today I’m going to share a few reasons why it’s so important to have a record of these seasons, and then a few practical ways you can start doing it right now.
In the same calendar year, I discovered the industry that would grow my business beyond what I could have imagined, and also experienced the greatest loss of my life with the ending of my marriage. It was a rocky season of change for me, but from it I was able to draw some specific parallels between these two events. I’ve learned more about myself in the last couple years than I have in my entire life, both personally and professionally. Today, I want to share with you 3 things that my divorce taught me about building and running a creative business.
Ok folks, we’re back at it with part two of learning how to balance motherhood and business for creative entrepreneurs and work-at-home moms. Let’s cut the small talk (ain't nobody got time for that), and get right to the last 3 tips for mompreneurs.
On my to do list today is write a blog post. I’m quickly finding that writing is becoming a creative outlet for me to get thoughts, feelings, and ideas out of my head. It’s like a therapy of sorts. For the last hour and a half, I’ve been struggling to get Poppy to sleep for her morning nap. I’m at the point where if she starts crying one more time, I’m just throwing in the towel on the morning nap and hoping for the best this afternoon. Any other mamas reached this point lately?! I find that I easily get frustrated by her fussiness and lack of sleeping because it means time away from my work. Next comes the guilt for feeling this way. And then the reminder, usually from a fellow mama’s Instagram post about a similar struggle, that my daughter should come first, and my business second.
As I write this, today is Monday, March 30. A couple hours ago, I stepped outside, barefoot, and threw the frisbee a few times with my dog. Inside, my 8-month-old daughter, Penelope, was screaming her tiny head off in her room and frankly, I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed air. I needed to breathe. She cried for half an hour attempting to take her usual afternoon nap. She cried the whole time I made dinner and she cried the whole time eating her dinner. I put her pajamas on against her will, cradled her in my arms, held that binky in for dear life, and rocked. And rocked. And rocked. And she finally drifted off to sleep. In moments like this, I am so clearly reminded that I am a single mother to this sweet pea, and I have been from day one. Literally.