20 tips from an organised person with two kids and a small biz

Some days you just have to 'ride the beast' that is a day with two small children...

Some days you just have to ‘ride the beast’ that is a day with two small children…

I often get asked, ‘How do you find the time?’

Honestly? I don’t know. But here are some tips I have used recently to get some things done.
I have two babies and a small business called Outie making knocker frocks, illustrations and more.  My children are small – one is nearly three and the other is one (and they are both still in nappies… )
1) Make more coffee than you need in the morning and keep it in a thermos for later in the day.
2) Use a reusable travel mug in case your kids dictate that you won’t get time to sit down at home. Coffee in the car can actually be more relaxing.
3) Keep a similar routine so that your kids know what to expect each day and you can ‘hopefully’ avoid tantrums by surprising them with an errand and having to force them into the car.
4) Do house chores while they are awake so that nap times can be all business.
5) Always take a picnic lunch/snack pack out with you (we just went to the beach this morning and I took a lunch box of goodies. We had some in the car, I used some as bribery to put seat belts on and then food was all ready to munch when we got home!)
6) Set up safe multitasking zones. 
Right now my daughter is in her high chair on my left (strapped in) and my son is in a small tub inside the bath with his whales on my right and I am sitting between them in the doorway of the bathroom with my pre-prepared coffee writing this. Winning! (Nb I wrote notes at bath time and filled it out later once they were both in bed). Using a decent phone also means that you are not tied to needing a computer to achieve things too…
7) Use help when you can and ask for it. I struggle to be adventurous safely with two babies so small on my own.  So a childless friend met us at the beach so that my toddler could run off safely and she could chase him. (Ever tried wearing a one year old in soft sand and chasing a toddler…?!) I put my hand up and said I wasn’t coping on my own but I love going to the beach – so now we have a help system and everyone wins.
8) Wear them while you can. Sometimes my day naps don’t go according to plan so I wear my baby to still tick off a few small jobs. I have a home made neon woven wrap that is my new best friend.
9) Run them like dogs/tucker them out to make them sleep. Most days we go bush walking and I do brain training with my toddler making him learn new words, play number games or remember picture books by heart. His brain gets tired and he sleeps better later. Today we watched the surfing Nationals at the beach and he sprinted around and climbed rocks and splashed in the stream. I don’t foresee a nap issue today…
10) Organise quiet play opportunities. Sometimes I just have a couple more things that need to be finished and if I can bust out a bag of blocks at my feet, some fabric scraps in a tissue box, some special word cards, or a bin of rice… I might just be winning. I also make my two year old play quietly in his room after lunch even if he doesn’t want to sleep because I need some quiet time too!
11) Write lists. It’s hard to keep everything in your head. Just write it down so you can leave your head clear for fun hunting with your kids and you know where to start on biz related stuff when you do get some time.
12) Read your babies. It’s ok to abandon ship some days if the little people just need a rest day. C’est la vie.
13) Don’t pretend you don’t have kids. I’m a work at home mum. I tell everyone that my business stuff happens in nap times. Most people are understanding if there is a delay and I give myself realistic lead times so that no one has to have a stressed out grumpy mummy or a longer than expected wait time for something I am making for them.
14) Plan errands in a circuit. This is a bit of an economy thing as well as a green thing that I like to do. Later on today I have to pick up fabric, drop off splat mats and go to the post office. I have it planned out to be a neat circle for less time in the car and less environmental impact of silly back and forth errands AND less stress on my kids being in and out of the car.
15) Get a car phone. One of the hardest things I find is trying to find time to call people when my kids are quiet. Strangely they are happy and often quiet in the car. My man bought me a Bluetooth stereo phone thing for Christmas. It’s been amazing and is a real time saver and is actually the best thing ever.
16) Let it go. Last night I found myself stressing because I hadn’t managed to sew four dresses and today I have to sew four more dresses and… Gah. It’s better for everyone if I take my time and do things nicely and prevent myself from rushing. Rushing makes mistakes. One more day won’t hurt but stressing about it will.
17) Make hay while the sun shines. My man is a fire fighter and he is often on long (seemingly endless) shifts. This means I also have long stints of solo parenting. When he is home, I can grab some more time to catch up on things and I have to remind myself that it will even out in the end. I am a mum first and a business owner second after all. I plan my weeks around his work to make things work for me too (and sometimes I take over the whole house when he is gone for a while and I spread out in ways he would hate provided the kids have gone to bed nicely).
18) Get a snow plough. Sometimes I can’t start work because my house is a tip and it stresses me out. So I use a shovel like a snow plough and do a mega scoop up of everything and dump toys back in the crates.  Two seconds down and time to get stuck into the studio.
19) Process your work in batches if possible. I find that I am much more efficient if I do all my cutting one day, all my overlocking and construction together, all my finishing together and then sit down to wrap a batch of parcels. It also saves time because I can do colours together rather than changing threads for each job etc.
20) Keep your work space inspiring. When I get a second during the day I like to nip into my studio to put things away so that it’s a nice space to start work in. I also get creative about where I do things to work in with my kids if I can’t get into my special room. I find a cutting board on our double bed is a great place to cut out a few dresses if I need to and I am still within sight of my one year old. I can sing her to sleep while I work. So do whatever works.
There you go! And this is live so that means the kids are napping and THAT means all my planning for the day has worked!
Maybe there’s something there that is helpful for you?
Leave a comment and let me know and don’t forget to click ‘follow’ before you go. X

Sweet Connections – Laulipops Shop and Hemp Breastpads

A bonus of running a small business in New Zealand is that it allows me to meet other work at home mummies doing their thing. These connections are really quite special.
The hemp breastpads we stock on the Outie website are made by our ‘new business friend’, Laura. Here’s a little more about her and her business Laulipop’s Shop. hemp breastpads by laulipops shop
What is your business?
My business is Laulipop’s Shop, named so as Laulipop is a nickname of mine!
What do you make?
I make a range of vintage inspired children’s clothing, Breastpads, Baby Bibs and Embroidered Keep Sakes of children’s artwork! (These are our favourites! – Outie)
What is the best thing about your breast pads?
They are made from hemp which is a super cool renewable resource and they get more absorbent the more they are washed! (That’s why we stock them! Love! – Outie)
How did you find out about Outie?
I met Katrina through a business group we are both in. (Katrina was introduced by Suzanne at Bundle)  I discovered Outie through there!
What is your favourite Outie product?
Definitely the Splat Mats! So wish these were around when my kids were little! Best invention ever!
What was your first Outie product experience?
I bought the Everything Batwing pattern. I love it, so simple and easy to make up, easy to resize if needed!
How many Batwings have you made so far?
So far I have only made the one but have plans for many more!

What has this connection meant for you?

When i was in Auckland last Katrina and I arranged to meet and meet up. It was my birthday and we spent it going round ALL the fabric stores buying up a storm! It was the best day!!!!
What else do you have in common with Katrina?
We both have 2 kids …. we have both had Mohawks in the past and we both love sewing!!! Oh and a …. button addiction!
Thanks Laura!
You can connect with Laura on facebook, via her blog, on instagram as #laulipopnz and here’s her shop.
Here’s a pic of Laura in her Outie Everything Batwing dress. Her face is hiding in the shadows a bit – but she’s sneaky like that. You can read Laura’s review of our pattern here.
laulipop batwing

You, Me And Price Decreases: The Truth

You, Me And Price Decreases: The Truth

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There have been some extravagant cuts made to a lot of Outie’s prices recently. It feels brave but it also feels right.

Last week I was asked what my customers were like. I thought about it and it didn’t take me long to reply. They are actually kind of like me.

It’s this knowledge that I am building some pretty wonderful relationships with other parents and parents-to-be that has given me the courage to make some price cuts to help them out. They have helped me out so far by supporting my little business in its first 18 months, so it’s time for some pay back.

I might make less profit per sale which definitely feels a bit scary, but I’d like to think that I will be helping out more people like me by becoming more affordable.

In my ‘big’ dreams I would love for every woman to wear an Outie tee in pregnancy, a Batwing dress or top for nursing and enjoy using a Splat Mat as much as we enjoyed inventing them and making them.

It’s because every Outie product has come about because we needed it on our parenting journey and because Outie is a result of a kind of a ‘me to mummy-me’ story that makes me feel like it should be every parent’s right to have something from Outie without breaking the bank.

If we had a need and made something to fulfil that need, then surely more parents would need it too? That’s my thinking anyway. I think we are just not that different – you and I.

Am I right about the you-me thing?

You are like me if you:

  • Worry about loss of income as a result of getting pregnant
  • Struggle to keep a perfect house with kids and pets living in it
  • Want to buy things that are super-good quality that will last
  • Like to wear things that are funky yet versatile
  • Like to support small local businesses
  • Like to make green decisions
  • Like Outie
  • Mostly want to have fun

 

The truth is outie. The prices are cut. The story will continue with more of you to be a part of it.

Thanks for supporting a stay-at-home mummy of two in doing something brave.

Katrina (Outie)

Check out the new prices here: http://www.outie.co.nz

 

 

Living on the edge of nowhere (the importance of perspective)

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It is easy to focus on negative aspects of life and take a ‘woe is me’ attitude. There can be a lot of hurdles that are difficult to take in your stride.

My advice for what to do when things get a little tough?

Get outside.

In recent weeks I have felt frustrated about running my business from home due to some geographical and political factors that have made things more difficult. I have felt like I am at a bit of a dead end.

Some hurdles due to our geographical placement ‘in the wops’ have been:

Couriers will not deliver to our house

Couriers will also not pick up from our house.

We are miles away from cafes and basic amenities.

Some friends don’t like to visit because it is ‘too far’ or their car will get dirty on our gravel road.

It can be isolating.

We have limited broadband access. (We have satellite broadband with a 4GB data cap per month that costs us literally an arm and a leg).

We do not have a landline. (Our road has a copper wire that was installed in 1972 and currently half of it that was ‘replaced’ is just hanging in the trees!. The government has told us that we are part of the lucky few in rural NZ that will never get access to broadband or full mobile coverage despite the fact that we pay full big-city rates).

Most online tutorials for businesses require video viewing online which our data-cap will not allow.

The bit-rate of our satellite can’t even support Skype!

Oh – and these are all rather major technological disadvantages when I am trying to run an online business from home…

So with all of that said, it’s really good to remind myself why the hell we live where we do… and why the hell I am doing this at all.

I need to walk away from the phone, to walk away from the computer and to just leave the packages in my studio to rest for a little bit before I have to drive to the post office with my toddler in tow later today.

What I have learned is that if you hold off on your task list for a couple of hours, your task list will not be changed. But how you feel about completing said tasks on the list definitely can change (and will).

I like to think ‘outside the box’ – and getting outside/away can help me to see things from a brand new perspective.

Thinking ‘outside the box’ is good – but going ‘outside the box’ can be much better.

So, a little early morning jaunt this morning in the sunshine, has helped to put it all back into perspective.

Why do the hurdles not matter? The ‘dead end’ street where I live and work, is actually an incredible destination.

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It is beautiful here.

And peaceful.

I am near the sea and trees are everywhere.

This place feeds the parts of me that create.

It is an amazing place to raise children.

Bush walks are at my doorstep (there is no need for a gym membership).

The beach is a small drive away.

The views are fantastic.

I don’t want to be found on my phone when I am outside.

I am building my business from home – because being home with my little man  is actually pretty awesome.

The hurdles I mentioned earlier are surmountable with a bit of perspective.

The perspective goes hand in hand with perseverance and some ‘outside the box’ thinking strategies – but keeping things in perspective is the most important thing.

Here’s a challenge for you:

Write down all of things that are currently making you frustrated.

Go outside and explore somewhere new. Spend a couple of hours being ‘unaccountable’ (leave your technology behind).

Return to your task list. Have you been rewarded with a new perspective?

Check out what I do from home here.