Last year, I wrote a post about how I schedule my work week and how I get it all done as a stay at home mom of a toddler and business owner of a growing, thriving business. The response was overwhelming, and I quickly realized how many of you needed guidance for creating your own schedule and finding balance between work and life. I realized that we all want a glimpse of how others are making it work so we can better structure our own lives.
Because of this, I was inspired to start this series featuring other busy women and business owners sharing how they manage their schedules and work towards work/life balance. My hope in everything I do is that we can make our lives less busy and more intentional so that we find more room for joy. I hope that this series will inspire you in your own life and help you find just the right combination of work and play so you can make it happen too.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business or work.
Hey there *waves* I'm a busy married Aussie Mum (Mom) of 5 children aged from 2yrs up to 17yrs. I also run Happy Splat Design, a boutique graphic design studio from our home, in Melbourne, Australia. I’m a designer, illustrator and brand specialist and I love to empower and equip small to medium business owners. I love digging into the heart and soul of the businesses I work with, pulling out their unique personalities which I can then turn into a boutique designer brand. I love to empower people and help them to become the best they can be.
Take us through your typical day and your main daily responsibilities.
A typical day.....hmm.... well, usually I wake at around 7am and have coffee with my Darling Love (of 18yrs), before he heads off to work at 7:20am. I have my quiet time until 7:45am, then the fun starts. I wake the kids and get them ready for school, make lunches, make breakfasts .... find matching socks and lost shoes! Around 8:30am the older children leave for school - we are fortunate to live close enough that they can all walk. I spend the next 30mins cleaning up after the morning rush and getting the bubba her breakfast.
Around 9am, I head into the studio, with toddler in tow. I answer emails and make my list for the day while, lil miss 2yrs happily watches Sesame Street. Most days are spent in the studio, I work on the computer while my lil miss potters around playing with toys. We do take play breaks everyone now and then, where i sit and play, giving her my undivided attention for 10-15mins. After that she happily plays on her own again and I am able to concentrate on my work at hand. I put her down for a sleep around lunchtime and this is when I make client calls (without interruption) or I listen to podcasts while working.
Around 3:45pm the older kids arrive home. I take a break to chat with them about their day. Then I head back into the studio until around 5/5:30pm. If my morning has gone well, then i had the time to put on the slow cooker, if not, then I get busy making dinner. After dinner, the kids clean the kitchen and then we usually just hang out together and watch TV, or the older kids might use the computer. I'm often on the sofa with a pile of books, magazines, or with a pen and paper in hand - I often find it hard to really turn off my brain. The younger children go to be at 8:30pm and the older ones, well, they might go to be after me ;)
What do you wish you had more time for?
I wish I had more time for total relaxation. Taking the time to read a book or get a massage or facial. In this season of life, all of those things just seem so indulgent. Being in the quiet, by myself.
What is one thing you always make time for?
One thing that I always make time for is my 'quiet time' in the morning. I'm an introvert and this alone time charges me for the day. I always sit in the same old green armchair, with my coffee in hand, and in the early morning light I take time to ready my bible. I use my ESV bible or my bible app "Read the Bible in One Year". I might only read for 5-10mins, but it's quiet and I have no distractions. It's my time.
How do you manage your schedule?
I have tried many different ways to manage my work schedule, but I always come back to paper. I use a the Adore Planner which has ample room for me to write my daily list. But for me the main way to keep all of my client work scheduled is in a boring ruled note pad. I keep an ongoing list of every job that comes in. I can see everything at a glance and I can also flip back pages and see what jobs came in and when.
For our family schedule, I keep that totally separate. Family organization can be quite crazy. With teenagers and myself who volunteer at church, our daughter with her gymnastics, our other son with his tutor and my husband with his gym - it's hard to know who is doing what (or when i need to drive the kids somewhere). When i am on track, i like to use the Cosi App. It's like iCal but my teenagers and husband can access the same account on their phones. Everyone in the family can see what everyone is doing. (please note: that when I'm not on track - we forget things - like my 12 yr old son who missed his friends 13th birthday just last week.... Ooops!).
How do you find the balance between work and home?
There is no magic level of balance that is perfect. Some seasons require the balance to be uneven in different areas. For example, I have had seasons where I worked till midnight most nights - but they were short seasons that then usually required a recovery period. I've also had seasons, where due to family circumstances, that there was little to no work done, but somehow I never managed to get too behind. I have faith that my balance will always be focused towards the correct path.
Tell us one thing that you have learned about managing a busy life.
One thing that I have learned whilst working for myself, is the need to set myself work hours. My work hours are from 9am - 5pm during the week. I am contactable by clients during this time and I will reply to emails during this time. I may at pop out during those times to run errands or I may sometimes finish some design work later at night, but I generally only work during those hours. The biggest lifestyle change for me was I decided that I would no longer work weekends. This became my new Non-Negotiable. It is amazing the difference it has made, in that i look forward to the weekend and I also then go into the next week feeling refresh and like I have had a break.
Another thing that I have put into place recently, is family night. This is more for those with teenagers and young adults who are starting to live their own lives and are often out and about at night with youth or church events or friends. Every Monday night, no matter how busy anyone in the family is, they are required (yes, required) to attend Family Dinner. We all sit down and have dinner together with the entire family present. This night is also open to extended family - just let me know you are coming and there will be plenty of food.
What is one piece of advice you would give readers about managing their own schedule?
Don't beat yourself up trying to be perfect and have the perfect balance - there is no such thing. What is a good balance for me, might send you crazy and vice versa. Each business and family has different priorities than need to have the balance lean in their favor. That being said, my one piece of advice is "Always try to leave room for the unexpected in your schedule." Schedule a blank spot somewhere in every week to allow for when the unexpected happens or arrives on your doorstep or can't go to school or just needs a hug :)
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If you are interested in contributing to this series, or know of someone you would like to see featured, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!