October 14, 2009

Ode to Etsy Mamas

Last night, I posted a forum thread "Mommy HELP!", in the hopes that maybe a few of the women who sell on Etsy and happen to be mothers, could let me know their secret as to how they get it all done. If you've been following my blog, then you know I'm not the expert here - with Marley being an active, curious fifteen month old - I've really been wondering how do these SuperMoms do it? I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of women who were willing to give me a peek into their daily lives; and offer up some really useful advice for troubleshooting toddlers, schedules and routines, and finding some harmony and balance in the otherwise topsy-turvy existence that is being a working mother. And when I say "working mother" I feel a bit redundant, because the fact is - it doesn't matter how many hours/week you punch in or don't at a paying job - all moms know that "labor" doesn't end in a birthing room.

So after consuming all of this incredibly personal and useful advice, I felt it unfair to just leave it all sitting there in the ethers of the Etsy forums. I have selected some of the advice that was most helpful to me in the hopes that it will directly help some of you. Also, I've included links to each Etsy Mama's shop at beginning of each quote - so that you can see just how amazing, talented, organized and prolific these women are. I have to say, I left that forum thread feeling, "Wow, some of these women should take a stab at ruling the world!"...we'll see if I ever get there myself. Meantime, sit back, relax (assuming babes are napping), and read on for some maternal advice at its best:
  • underhercharm: Up until 1:00 am every night! Mine are 1, 3 and 5, and they go to day care and school while I work at my "real" job. Then I spend a couple hours at the computer and working at night. Hiring a maid was one of the best things I did to help manage. Coffee in the mornings helps too!
  • Overspill: Get up early, go to bed late! And yeah, coffee!
I get up an hour before my 2 yo so I can check email, print orders + get laundry on. Then my time is hers till naptime, though I'll cut fabric or knit for my handmades shop or package buttons etc for this one while she's playing - small jobs that I can drop at a moments notice. Naptime, I photograph + list stuff, then after she is in bed for the night I pack orders, prep pics for the next day, write out descriptions etc, so listing is quicker the next afternoon.
Okay, my kids are 2 and 5, so it's a little easier, now, but I was consulting when my oldest was your daughter's age, and finding the time to work was a challenge. Anyway, I did a bunch of different things:
-For things that I could do a few minutes at a time, I'd set myself up in the livingroom, and just work while I hung out with him. (I do most of my Etsy stuff that way,too, but it's crocheting, so I can carry it around and do it a couple of minutes at a time.) It's not a good way to do anything that requires a big block of time or a lot of concentration, but it did allow me to knock off the easier stuff and save my big blocks of time for more difficult jobs.

-Get housework and everything else done while he was awake, so I could spend his whole nap working, and so I could work for the first hour or two after he went to bed.

-My husband would babysit for bigger blocks of time on weekends, while I locked myself and the laptop in another room.

Above all, go easy on yourself. Putting it in bullet points like this makes it look simple, but it isn't: I found that I could do 8 or 10 hours a week pretty easily, but more than that was exhausting, and if I'd needed to consistently work much more than 10, I'd definitely have needed babysitters.
  • kotibeth: I have two toddlers so I feel your pain!
I turned our basement into a craft area and a play room. They are threatened with the time out chair if they go upstairs. I was spending all my time chasing them back downstairs! The basement is filled with "special" toys that are only allowed to be played with in the basement. They also have a full shelf of crayons, markers, paper, coloring books and more.

I don't work every day. Maybe 2-3 days out of the week. I was doing mainly evenings but I never saw the hubby so now it's more like 1 evening a week.
  • jayval: I also have a daughter, 14Mo..And I stay at home..
I take my photos, and list first thing in the morning, while she drinks her bottle, and plays..it takes me like 1/2 hr to 45 min...All else, I do after she goes to bed, and dinner, usually about 8:30 to 10:00 at night I start...Though Im tired, as soon as I start working I get my second wind, and I really really enjoy it...Otherwise I would be bored, and fall asleep on the couch :)
The entire thread of seventy-something posts is like this! It was so hard to select only a few to share here - but now you know where to find or offer more advice on this subject. All of these women who have posted are my personal heroes - also, the ones that didn't have a chance to post because they were busy juggling fifty balls in the air, you are my heroes too! Thank you all for sharing and being part of this fabulous community on whatever level you can.


Henya said...

Thank you for a very nice post and for starting such a helpful thread.

Caitlin said...

Great post, and this is a fabulous blog! I just spent 20 minutes reading, and I definitely have to come back and read more..... =)


Cari said...

I'm glad I could be of help! Good luck, it's a tough balancing act but as Moms we need time to ourselves too and that's just as important as spending time with our kids.

Altered by Jenn said...

Great post! I often wonder how other moms do it as well.

TattieTats said...

Thank you for posting this. I really needed to read some supporting comments after the week I've had. All of my balls dropped at once! Now, I'm trying to appease customers, brush myself off, hug my little ones, and start again. I think I'm going to start just working three days a week and let things go a little more slowly, rather than work every day and burn myself out. Thanks for the optimism. I needed it!