Thanks so much for all the concerned comments, texts, and messages I received yesterday after my Instagram post. I didn’t mean to stir anything up. I drafted this post a few weeks ago and figured now would be a good time to share.
I haven’t been blogging or painting much lately. Why? Well, my helper resigned and therefore I have not been able to work in my shop. Back in April, I made the decision to bring on a Mother’s Helper to take care of the kids for 21 hours per week so I could work my business. At first, it was great. I could not have been happier to be creating despite the fact that I was barely breaking even between selling and paying her salary. At this time, we are not able to hire help from our family budget, so the deal I made with my husband was that I would make enough to pay my helper’s salary, and as long as I was $1 net positive at the end of each month, what do I have to lose?
At the rate I was able to pay, my helper came with some conditions: she brought her 5 year old son to work and she was some what limited in her ability to communicate in English (moved from Japan with her American husband 2 years ago). Neither of these conditions bothered me, but over time, they proved to be problematic more so for her, than me. Bringing her child was actually a good thing in many ways – he and my 3 year old played together all day and it was a great way for them to stay busy without her having to provide entertainment. HOWEVER, together the boys were WILD; they did things that neither of them were inspired to do on their own. For example, the day usually started with the boys taking apart our upstairs sectional couch, throwing all the cushions downstairs, and jumping – jumping – jumping! Next, they would head out doors and get filthy and sweaty. Then they would come back upstairs and jump with their dirty feet all over the sofa. My helper would try to manage the chaos, but she also had little Wesley to care for and because of his age, he had to be held or closely watched, meaning that it was difficult for her to deal with the older boys’ mischievous behavior.
Furthermore, there was the limited language and more importantly, the cultural clash. Language wise, I think she was much better than she gave herself credit for, although some things were definitley lost in translation. Nothing big in terms of understanding her expected responsibilities, but I think it made it hard for her to communicate issues she was having with the children that she needed my help with (all of this came out the week before she resigned when we had a little heart-to-heart). Culturally, from what I understand and what I observed, I think there are some major differences in the way that little boys are raised in the US vs. Japan and that created some problems because my 3 year old was basically ruling the roost while I was out in the garage working.
By early July, I was starting to feel a bit weary of painting. I know, it had only been 3 months, but the pressure of paying wages and not really having money leftover to spend on the things that I hoped my business would provide for (house updates and decor, clothes for the family, entertainment – etc) left me feeling like maybe this was not meant for the long term? In addition, I felt that my responsibilities to my family were not being prioritized the way they should. In the beginning, I felt this creative outlet would help me be a better mom when I was on duty, but after a few months it was apparent to me that the balance between my work and my family wasn’t quite right.
About six weeks ago, in my head, I started my plotting my out. I didn’t want to let my nanny go because despite the issues mentioned above, I wanted to keep her on board, I just didn’t want to work as many hours. I also didn’t want an unemployment claim! But, I felt bad – because I wasn’t sure how critical the income was to her family? Her husband has a good job and she has another P/T nanny job, but I had no idea how she felt about the work and money? I made it very clear from the beginning that I didn’t know how/if this job work – how long it would last – how regular the hours would be, but I also felt a strong sense of responsibility to be as consistent as possible out of concern for her livelihood. This was one things where a translator early on would have been really helpful, because after our conversation a few weeks ago, it became clear the we were both on the same page. She didn’t want to work as much, she didn’t “need” the money, and she was completely exhausted by the boys’ behavior. Following that conversation, we agreed to take a week off and would regroup the following week. We were going to cut hours from 21 to 8 and I was really excited about the new schedule plan – and she seemed happy, too!
During the week we took off, I worked tirelessly to catch up on chores: I laundered my filthy couch slipcover, planned and prepped meals, put away piles of laundry, ironed, organized, etc. Simultaneously, we had a contractor on site working to install wood floors in the final room in our house that was dumping ground for junk, construction materials, boxes and stuff we didn’t have time to deal with since our move. The plan for the room was to create an office/studio for me that doubles as a guest room when needed, so Ryan and I were both looking forward to making the room a useful part of the house.
As the studio space started to come together, I began to feel even less inclined to keep up with my painting business on any sort of schedule. I felt it would be better to slow the pace of the painting business and use my mom and Ryan to help with kids (which is very limited). The studio inspired me to look for ways to involve the kids in a variety of creative pursuits. I am also happy about having a space that is free of sanding dust and toxic chemicals! 😉
And then I received the text: my helper decided she would not be coming back to work at all. I was sad and relieved all at once. I think she is just relieved.
So where to go from here? I’m not totally sure, but here’s what I’m exploring: Business wise, I am not giving up painting. I want to offer custom work, one project at a time, but I don’t want to pick up pieces and let them stockpile in the garage for years until I can get to them. Custom work will be offered on a selective basis and I expect this will be 6-12 pieces a year, at most. As much as the thought of custom work stresses me out, custom painting allows me to continue perfecting my skill and doing what I enjoy….but…
~No more crazy “throw the kids in the car – there’s a dresser 50 miles away that I need, now”…that I’ll never get to.
~And no more negotiating down to make a sale. My prices are what they are. Take it or leave it. This is good for the customer and for me because a buyer may find a really a good deal on an awesome piece and if I found it, I would factor in the awesomeness to the price, where as custom doesn’t discriminate.
~Product costs will be passed on and purchased as needed, so less waste.
~No more scolding the kids for getting near furniture that’s waiting for a buyer.
~I can park in my garage! Whoohoo~
Aside from custom, I want to be available to work on orders from my bespoke furniture business. I want to spend more time looking for flippable pieces (furniture, rugs, decor). I want to paint/repaint my own furniture. I want to teach myself how to sew – and that is a large part of how I plan to use my studio space.
On the personal side, I want to garden and develop my green thumb. I want to run a tight ship here at the house – better structure for the kids, healthy meals, household chores complete, etc. And, about a year from now, I will most likely start working for my husband’s business in some capacity as he transitions from employee to owner – so I am getting organized for that, too. Big picture: I plan to work around the family instead of letting family work around the business.
This blog isn’t going anywhere. I’m not sure what it will morph into, but I’m not ready to let it go. Custom work isn’t something I’m inspired to blog about – I just want to get it done and get it out, so I don’t feel like that will be a source of good content going forward. I will certainly be sharing personal painted furniture projects – and some of you many have noticed that I added a new page for sharing “Found” items. I haven’t figured out how to turn this in to blog post content, but I think it is likely that Found: PR will be part of the new direction for this blog. Like all of you, I love all things home decor and DIY, so I’ll be sharing projects and inspiring spaces from my own home. I have a “home tour” that has been sitting my drafts for 6 months…one day I’ll get around to sharing that.
That is the update, as it stands! If anything changes, I’ll be sharing it here. Thank you all so much for sticking with me! I appreciate it so much.