Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Growing Your Business With Baby

Anyone in business will tell you that without business development you will not have business growth – this means that you are less likely to meet budget, have a profit or survive. It is a scary thought.

Visionary is my first born – I have now seen it through acquisitions, mergers, expansion, restriction, addition of services and subtraction of services. It still remains what I always wanted – to provide me with enough work so I do not have to be ‘employed’ and to fund a lifestyle that I want.

It used to take all my time – I would work at least 14 hours a day – stopping for dinner and then picking up my laptop. No stress. I had nothing or no-one to stop me. Well had no-one…..

A baby kind of demands your time – you need to provide everything for it – it certainly gets easier as they talk, walk and become more independent – but that takes years. A child is something you do for the long haul – much like a business really.

I had to find the balance between providing for both my baby and my business. I also had to find the balance that would also not cause me to take additional pressure at a time where my hormones were all over the place and I was sleep deprived.

Changes that I have made in the last 4.5 years, mainly reducing services and focusing the business, probably doesn’t look like I have been developing the business – and yet in reality it is now poised more than ever to be flexible enough not to consume so much of my precious time.

I have learnt that if I am going to ‘giveaway’ my time to people then I am going to give it to my family – unless there is something in it for me.  Sounds selfish but taking time from your family to give to someone else is selfish.

What I missed along this path was to make quick decisions that are true to me – what I lacked was a true understanding of me and what my new identity was. I am certainly not the first person to ever have a baby while I am running a business and I won’t be the last. My learnings are not ground breaking – many of you will be nodding your head in agreeance – however we don’t talk about it – no-one told me to do this I learn’t along my business and baby development cycle!

Sadly there are times when due to work commitments and the need to develop your business and
deliver for clients that you miss the firsts. I missed her first solo ‘step’ – her aunt saw that. I also missed her first snowfall. I was sitting working in the office when we noticed it starting to snow (I was actually on the phone to a colleague at the time who was in Qld) I had this urge to go to Sophie’s childcare and to be there with her while it snowed. When I did pick her up later in the day there were pictures and great stories of dancing in the snow – but I missed that. I have shared many firsts with her though and for that I am blessed – corporate world would have prevented me from sharing those.

What are your tips to managing business growth and being there for the milestones? Please share below

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Juggling Domestic Harmony and Business Growth

Life is a juggle. The older you get, the more responsibilities you acquire, the more you need to juggle.

At highschool it was juggling friendships and school work. At Uni it was juggling uni work, paid work and if you were not lucky enough to live with your parents (I was) then you also had to juggle looking after your own place or be part of a share house (and all the joys that go with that). Then there was real grown work and climbing the career ladder, possibly a boy/girl-friend, maybe further study, sport and creating a life balance. Some travel (or a decent amount in my case), followed by a mortgage, starting a business, wedding (or not), babies – and then you really truly understand the juggle – you get why the previous 35 years you thought you were busy and challenged, but this was the biggest challenge yet – creating and maintaining domestic harmony and business growth!

Domestic harmony – being a domestic goddess – basically having a clean house, food on the table, full cupboards and the washing done –sounds simple hey….cough, splutter. Add to that children – or in my case 1 active, spirited, somewhat needy girl. As you tidy you look behind you and she is tearing the house apart. You clean one room only to walk into another and find a cleverly constructed creative project out of ripped up tissues and boxes. Or the latest artwork on the wall or carpet, made from that forgotten sharpie texta that she has discovered! The stories go on. That witching hour that gets better as they get older, but usually starts around the time you should be cooking dinner. The washing basket that seems to magically fill itself up only minutes after you thought you were on top of the washing. The endless folding and putting away. The effort to get to the supermarket and do it with child/ren in tow. Add into that mix the ‘business growth’ bit and you have the perfect recipe for a pressure cooker explosion!

That is unless you do a bit of planning and a bit of outsourcing. There are so many tips about how you can do all of this and you need to see what works for you. What I have learnt that has worked for me is the following:

Clean House
·       Don’t let the mess get on top of you – everything should have its place and everything in its place
·       Tidy like a ninja! Get a washing basket and a plastic bag. Go to a room, do not leave that room until it is tidy. Things go away, or in the basket if they belong in a different room or in the rubbish bag. Simple. I saw this on Pinterest and it works for me. I start in the lounge (where most of the mess congregates) and work around the house leaving my daughters room until last (where most of the things in the basket end up).
·       Clean a room/section of your house a day. I have a fairly small house (in todays terms) and I have divided it into 5 equal parts and I tackle a section a day. I tody the night before and then clean in the morning. I leave the big sections to the days that I am not rushing to kinder/work. Oh and I use beautiful toxin free cleaning products from Natures Direct!
·       Hire a cleaner – it could be the best $50 you spend.
·       Make it smell nice – I use Scentsy.

Food on the table
·       Cook multiple meals at once – I have 2 cooking days a week and cook at least 2 meals
·       Double the quantities – that is simple enough – then you freeze a batch for another meal or eat for lunch the next day
·       Create an ‘anything goes’ night. Ours is Friday. All the rules go out the door. We eat in the lounge. We eat whatever (usually snacky time food from the freezer). Have dessert first. No set bedtime (she is usually crawling in about 8pm anyway) and no set bedtime routine. It is rule free, relaxed and we all look forward to chilling out after a big week.

Full Cupboards
·       Use online shopping – really why are you not doing this? I shop with Woolworths and do a bulk shop with Grocery Run every 6-8 weeks. No dragging kids to the supermarket.
·       Buy fresh – we enjoy attending farmers markets and have also found a local fruit & vegie shop that is great (aka cheap) prices. You have to hand pick their goods, but it is worth it to save $.
·       Buy in bulk – where you can buy bulk. There are bulk places that you can visit to stock up on canned goods and other dry goods. Plus markets and other online shops will sell in bulk other goods. Big W also sells bulk for cheap on things you will use every day like toilet paper.

·       Buy a bigger washing machine – for every child you have upgrade to the next size. The more you can fit in a load the happier you will be.
·       Buy a bigger basket – or one that divides lights and darks. I have only recently done this and love it – the washing basked doesn’t look like it is growing clothes.
·       Don’t iron – really – my nan used to iron everything from sheets to nickers. My mum ironed a little less – I iron nothing! My partner has clothes that need ironing, he does that.
·       Move clothes quickly through the cycle. This will help with the above point. If clothes come out of the washing machine and are hung out to dry and then folded (not piled up) it will keep them in better condition.
·       Have a space for indoor drying (I have hung racks on my laundry wall because I hate my house looking like a Chinese laundry) and buy a clothes line that has a cover on it – this will stop UV damage in summer and will enable you to air dry clothes in winter and they won’t end up wetter than when you put them out.
·       Look on Pinterest/Google/blogs for tip son setting up your laundry and washing systems if you have many people in your house.
·       If all else fails buy more clothes.

The last tip to becoming a domestic goddess is create a ‘control centre’ – look it up on Pinterest – this is essentially where all the comings and goings of your house go. I use mine to plan meals, create shopping lists, the family calendar, store the house money, vouchers, craft ideas and all the bits of paper that would normally go on a fridge! You can add whatever you need to this area, and it helps keep everyone in control and informed of what is happening.

So if you have your house in control, and with a little bit of planning there is no reason that you shouldn’t, then you can get down to the business of growing and developing your business, working around all the family commitments that you have.

What are your tips for keeping domestic harmony? Share below

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Finding the new you

Something shifts in you the moment you fall pregnant. You start to think of this little life you dream of the possibilities, how they will grow and develop. The exciting adventures they will have. You shift from always thinking about yourself (well I did) to putting another person first – always!

It is natural, the mothering instinct, there is probably chemical changes in your brain that make it that way. It is hard to prioritise anything else – unless you are given the space.

As part of this new role as mother (and for me it was not an anticipated role) you are trying to find this new part for you to play – your new identity. Of being a nurturing, role model and yet still driving your business forward. Often the 2 worlds will clash. Often you will feel under pressure with the combination of the Western Worlds ‘we are doing it all and need no help’ statement with the pressure you put on yourself to ‘keep up appearance’.

In amongst this you start to question what it is that is your life purpose. Is it to be mum? Is it to go back to work? Is it to do what you have always been doing? Or are you going to find something new?
Does a planned and anticipated pregnancy mean that you have already thought all of this out, and is reality the same as the plan?

I felt so much shift in my world – stuff that was important pre-child no longer was important, infact it just added to the pressure. So what was I really looking for to fulfill myself, earn an income and be the best mother I could be.

I had to first let go of any control on life I thought I had. To plan what I could and accept what I couldn’t. To live for this moment in time only. To develop systems in both my house and more importantly in my business that allowed me to what I felt was my purpose and to make money.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this and trying out things. I am getting closer to the realisation of what I am working towards.

The older I am getting and the more I am growing with my girl, the more I understand about myself, what I want and what I don’t want. I just need to keep focused on creating an income from doing the things I enjoy and not doing the things I dislike. 

What does your new identity look like? How have your priorities changed (if at all)? Share with us in the comments

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The Pressure Cooker Effect

When I fell pregnant there was nothing anyone could have told me to prepare for the change that having a baby would do to me and also my life. For all the times I have felt pressure and stress – nothing could compare to the constant pressure felt with a new baby – juggling everything.

That feeling that you believe you can’t breath; that you are moving through the motions in a daze of feeding, changing, cuddling, attempting to get them to sleep – all the time thinking of all the things that you should be doing – getting on top of emails, doing the washing, cleaning (ok tidying!) the house – not to mention that little thing ‘they’ say about sleeping when bubs does (laughable!). Not to mention continuing to develop the business, grow events, appease everyone, manage staff, meet budget, get some sleep, rest, tale time for yourself. Be The Best Mother. Keep the maternal health nurse happy, work towards the next baby milestone, go to mother’s club, tell everyone how great you are doing. Smile. Cope. Get the baby to sleep without screaming. Do the books, update the website, answer e-mails, get some sleep.

You get it – around and around – and every day you survive.

Then I put this saying on my kitchen wall:
“Do not dwell on the past. Do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
I believe Sophie would have been about 6 months. I realised that I was always striving for the next development goal. I was focused on her getting to the next age – where things might be a bit better. I was focusing on how stressful and painful it was for her to go to sleep (at 4.5 she still bugs me some nights). I realised that I needed to enjoy this very moment with my little girl – something I still do today. Enjoy the smiles, laughs, hugs of today – tomorrow they will not be there. I learn’t that it was OK to have her sleep in my arms if that was where she wanted to be – it wouldn’t be long until she wouldn’t sleep during the day – that she would be too busy playing and living life to want to cuddle for long periods. Enjoy that moment.

I finally got my head around being a relaxed mother – well in truth it probably took until she was 18 months old when I threw out day sleeps and she started to just go to sleep at night – albeit with me in her room – holding her, lying in her bed! That still hasn’t changed.

With my new identity as ‘relaxed mother’ starting to work for me, I turned my focus to the business – it was at this time that I made big decisions that affected so many people – but it took me out of that pressure cooker, and it is that pressure cooker that could have been my downfall if I had let it continue.

There was at no point that I ever felt depressed at this time – I have had depression – there were times I was sad, sometimes angry, and my poor dead mother seemed to wear the brunt of that. But I was never ‘depressed’ I never wanted to stay in bed, not face the world. I never felt sad and dark as you can when you are depressed.

I felt totally and undeniably out of control and unsupported. I would have liked to have planned the business better for that post-birth stage. I would have liked to have planned the house better for that post-birth stage.

Today I think ahead to the next stage – at the moment we are planning for primary school. I think about what routines need to be changed, and where possible start making small changes ready for the end outcome. I have learn’t more about how both my daughter and I and my partner responds to change and how we work together (or against sometimes). This has helped immensely.

All babies are different, and you never know how you are going to respond until you are in that place and position. Until you learn the ‘way’ of your new baby and how everyone around you will react and help it is difficult to plan – and as you would now all good plans can get dissolved very quickly with a baby.

When I was pregnant I planned ahead with all of my events and projects – I was probably about 2 months ahead of myself on all of the events I was working on. However, I was sick after I had Sophie, I didn’t bargain on having a c-section and I certainly didn’t plan to be back in hospital 2 weeks after having her. I really truly believed that I could just continue on, maintaining how far ahead in my planning I was and to run an expo 2 months after she was born and then another 5 months after that and then another 3 months after that…..and the cycle continued. I believed that if I just employed people that I could manage it all. I kept adding to the workload and not stopping to breath.

If I turned the hands back now I would decrease the events when I discovered I was pregnant, but I was in a time of growth for that part of the business – we had expanded our hire services, we were running more expos and being approached to do so. When your business is growing – and your mindset has always been to grow – why stop just because of a baby.

Before I fell pregnant I was starting to look for a new challenge – and I got it!

What did you do to plan for your baby? What did you find didn't go to plan and how did you cope with it?

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

What they don't tell you

As soon as you start announcing you are pregnant there seems to be stages of excitement and levels of information people start to talk to you about. It starts with excitement – then general tips – then birth stories. Everyone seems to be the expert on pregnancy, birth and babies. There are millions of books, websites and blogs. And then there are hospitals, doctors and midwifes. Information is conflicting and it is not about you and your individual situation.

My gorgeous doula!
The best advice I received was to not read books. So I didn’t. I was told to engage a doula. So I did – and it was the best thing I ever did. I started my pregnancy journey talking to an expert on shifting blockages I had around birth-developed with the thanks of all of those horror birth stories, including my own. I read a book on hypno-birthing and was ready. Armed with this base and my doula, I was able to focus on the impending birth. And buying stuff!

In saying I didn’t read books I did read a couple of others – mostly around sleep and settling – cause that was the issue I was having – which really didn’t need to be an issue – I needed to learn to stop trying to controlling the situation and worry about what everyone else would think. They didn’t understand the pressure cooker I was in and that as long as bubs and me had some level of sleep then how that happened was no issue. The books tried to get me to the ‘ideal’ which wasn’t ideal for my situation and my baby. But it took me many tears to understand that.

What they really, truly, failed to tell me along this journey was that once this little bundle was put in my arms I would fall instantly in love. I could lose hours just watching her, enjoying cuddles, bonding together. I will never forget the first day in hospital where I swayed between absolute love for this little person and freaking out that I was now a ‘mother’ and was suddenly in no man’s land – I didn’t even know how to change a nappy!

But I soon became an expert at parenting – particularly when I surrendered and allowed myself to parent from the heart. Well maybe not an expert, because I am always learning.

What this new found love did for me was tear me between wanting to be a great business owner, expand my business in terms of size and location to wanting to create an income that would allow me to spend time with her as she grew and to celebrate her firsts with her and be part of her life – not an absent/convenient parent.

I understand now that this is not new – in fact that thing everyone would say about the pain of labour and birth disappeared once you held them in your arms – true.

I wish I understood this in order to plan my business more for when it met baby – yet I think it is one of those things that you need to experience first hand and in the moment if someone had tried to tell me I would have ignored them and not got it.

So if I could take the knowledge I have now and turn back the time, what would I have planned differently in my business so that I could truly spend time in the moment with my little girl.

I would give myself permission to live in the moment.  I do know, but it was such a slow process- I would have given myself permission to speed it up. I would have learnt mindfulness techniques long before she was born and integrated that into my life. I would not have been so stubborn and made the changes to my business that I needed to sooner. I would have built my support community sooner-reached out and asked friends for help sooner. I would have prepared my business to meet a baby – not just a few weeks after she was born but for all the stages of her development.

Nothing can prepare you for loving your child it is so strong an emotion you cannot explain, even today I get excited at the end of the day when I pick her up from childcare. There is nothing more exciting than a little girls description of what happened in her day and the constant chatter all the way home! The unconditional love, the cuddles nothing compares to that!

What did you find out that no-one could have told you?