A Reignited Drive

Wyatt at his first appointment with me (Feb 2017)

Wyatt at his first appointment with me (Feb 2017)

    It’s easy to get complacent and forget why it is you do the things you do. Things become habit and even though you love whatever it is you’re doing, sometimes you need something to shock you into remembering why you started.

     When I started my pet sitting business I didn’t have any kids. I got pregnant not long after starting and by the time my son was born I had only been in business a bit over a year. At the time I honestly didn’t know if I could, or would even want to, continue my work. I decided to give it a go and was back working on a smaller scale when he was two weeks old. About a month after he was born I went back to the same level I was at before. I soon realised the challenge involved with running an appointment based business with a newborn. Keeping a schedule with diaper changes and breastfeeding breaks was hard, especially days where I would have multiple appointments in a row. But I kept going because my new baby kept my motivation front and center.

     That motivation had changed since when I first began working. At first it was just because I wanted flexibility that matched my husbands job. I never planned on having a traditional career, being a stay at home mother was always the goal.  We were fortunate enough that his income was enough to live on, I didn’t have to work if I didn’t want to, but I needed something that was mine. After Wyatt was born, I realized that extra bit of income could go a long ways in giving him more than either of us ever had—mainly a better education. We both graduated from a very small and rural school that wasn’t the greatest. Something we both agree on is that if we are able, we’d like to send our kids to private school and give them a much more expansive learning environment than we were able to have ourselves. When things got hard (like I was running late from stopping to breastfeed, Wyatt was crying through an entire appointment, we had an unfortunate diaper situation I was trying to handle in the back of my car, etc) I was able to remind myself why I was doing it and how I was working towards something better for my son.

Reese at her first appointment with me (May 2018)

Reese at her first appointment with me (May 2018)

     But over time you get into a routine and things get easier. You can start to forget what motivated you in the first place and everything just becomes repetitive. What happened was that I got into a rut. Wyatt was no longer breastfeeding and could be content through multiple visits with a toy, a snack, and a drink. I was getting a bit bored and unmotivated and told myself that when I had my second baby, I was going to take a large chunk of time off. Then Reese was born. I look at her and my why is suddenly so clear again. I look at her and remember all the things I want to help do for my kids.

     I am not naive. I know the adjustment of taking a 16 month old and a newborn to work with me will be hard and often frustrating. I have no illusions about still being able to do multiple appointments in a row and stay on schedule. I imagine that my new abilities will involve sticking to morning, evening, and weekend jobs when I can rely on my husband to be home with Wyatt. It will be knowing I can probably only ever swing one or two consecutive afternoon appointments because caring for two kids will make staying on schedule hard. And that’s okay.

     That huge break I told myself I’d take postpartum has already gone out the window. I was asked to do a cat sitting appointment and in a combination of wanting to get out of the house and having had my motivation reignited—I decided to do it. It was an easy job and I only had to take Reese with me. It felt good to stand there doing my work and look over at her in her infant seat, the same way her brother had been a mere 16 months ago. I know again why I’m doing what I’m doing and i’ll do it to the best of my ability—for my babies.

Entering a new phase

You’ve probably noticed that recently I’ve been more motherhood than business in this space. While I always strive to provide a good mix of the two, the reality is that I’m personally about to enter a new stage in life.  As someone who believes in striking an organic balance of work and mothering and in reevaluating based on your current life situation (even if I sometimes have difficulty following my own advice), I can’t ignore the drastic change about to take place.

    I only recently got to a stage with my son turning one a few months ago where I felt like I could take a forward step in business. I did more, I planned more, I hosted a workshop, I got into a good routine, and I felt like I was killing it. Now, I’m about to take that balance I’ve found and throw it out the window. As I enter this last stage of waiting on a new baby, I’m slowing way down. I’m preparing posts for DB+RB, I’m entering my last week of active pet sitting for awhile, and I’ve shut down all custom orders on my handmade page. I’m focusing on preparing for not only a newborn, but also the transition into mothering two children under 16 months!

    To be honest, the slow down transition is hitting me hard. I have an ever growing idea list that I want to act on, I know I’m losing tons of business in my handmade shop because I always do really well with Mother’s Day customs, and my pet sitting business just did it’s highest grossing month AND had three new client requests in the span of a week! Things are going great and slowing down and letting things pass you by can be tortuous. To not only see opportunity slip away but also to lose your income sucks. I am so happy to be able to contribute to my family and to making my sons life better than mine, while also staying home, and it kills me a little to know that I won’t be doing that for a bit. Of course, I know it’s for the best. To have the luxury of even taking time off and having an adjustment period is not something I take lightly. But that doesn’t make it less hard to do.

    We all know that newborns are notorious for being up all night and eating at all hours, so I think it’s safe to say that I will still stay active in DB+RB during those late night and early morning hours. I may not keep the same consistent schedule, I may not keep the same mix of motherhood and business, but I’ll be around and I’d love it if you stuck with me through this new phase!

    I love this community and am so happy with how it has grown and evolved in the eight months since it began. I look forward to seeing how this new life stage of mothering two under two changes this space. I hope it gives me new experiences to share with you, new ideas to bring to life, and even more advice and real world examples to help you balance whatever stage of motherhood and business you happen to be in.

Thank you so much for reading + being patient during this transition!

Yours in business and motherhood,

Brittany

The mother I thought I’d be.

     When I was pregnant with Wyatt, I was obsessed with Montessori. The simplicity, independence, and the way that learning was tied into play really spoke to me and I knew that it was how I wanted to raise my kids. I bought a few books, started one, and got to work setting up a Montessori bedroom.

     And that was the end of it. I made it to page 17 of that book. Far enough to know I needed a floor bed and a baby level mirror. Far enough to know that as an infant, Wyatt would need high contrast black and white stimulation. He turns one in two weeks and just a few days ago, I picked that book up again. As I started reading, I fell in love again with what Montessori is. As I looked around at our growing collection of plastic, noise-making, light-up toys, I became more and more angry with myself. How did I get so far off of the path I had intended to take? I had such big plans for my mothering style. We were going to do Montessori, we were going to raise him as a vegetarian (then I got pregnant and started eating meat again), we were going to expose him to Spanish, we were going to do baby sign language. Guess how many of those things we are doing? Zero.

     As I sat there, trying to figure out how I got so caught up in everything else, I realised that I haven’t been balancing motherhood and business as well as I thought I had. Running two small businesses and an online community is a LOT and it is time consuming. And in my quest to balance it all, I let my mothering intentions fall through the cracks. I know now that it’s not just a balance of time, it’s an emotional balance of making sure that everything is completed to the best that it can be. Right now, I am not completing my job as a mother to the best of my ability. I’m not being a bad mother, I’m not neglecting my child or doing anything to cause him harm in any way, but I’m not the mother I want to be.

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     So I’m making some changes. We are selling and donating a ton of toys that don’t fit in with our vision. We are setting up our living space as a more kid-centric, Montessori environment. I am taking a step back from work. I can’t quit because I still need something that’s mine, but I’m putting a damper on creating new things for Etsy and mostly only filling orders and I’m passing on the majority of my pet sitting appointments to the woman who works for me. This space won’t really change because it’s rooted in motherhood and balance and that’s too important for me to step back from.

     All along I have been basing my ability to “do it all” on maintaining the same level of work that I did pre-baby. I never stopped to reevaluate and come up with a new level that fit my new life. This space is all about telling mothers that they can raise babies AND run a business and YOU CAN, BUT you need to be constantly reevaluating your situation based on what season of life you are in. It was easy for me to do the same level of work when Wyatt was a newborn who slept all day. I kept going at the same speed as he grew and became more interactive but I should have regrouped then and slowed my work down to account for his new activity level. When the time comes for baby number two’s arrival, I will reevaluate again. When Wyatt enters preschool, I will reevaluate again. It is a constant thing that we must be doing. Do not let yourself get burned out by going at 110% on everything all the time. Some periods of life and children allow for it, while some require you to take it down a notch temporarily. It’s time for me to do what I should have been doing all along and find the new balance that will come with that.

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Yours in business and motherhood,

Brittany