Tag Archive | juggling career and family

One Foot on the Merry-Go-Round

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By Karen Hendricks

“Doing it All” (or should I say #DoingItAll) was the theme of a week-long series by Maria Shriver on the “Today” show last week. I identified with many of the women depicted in the stories, as they tried to juggle careers, children, marriages, family, financial concerns, special needs children, and free (me) time. While all of our circumstances are slightly different, the underlying theme is the same for nearly all women… Why do we feel the need to do it all, and do it all well? Do we feel pressured to do it all? Does society expect us to do it all?

By the way, The Merry-Go-Round = DoingItAll.

Along those same lines, The Atlantic recently ran a story titled “Moms who cut back at work are happier.” It’s based upon new statistics from the Pew Research Center, finding that growing numbers of women are making career sacrifices in order to spend more time with their families. Hello?! This is exactly what Off the Merry-Go-Round is about! How wonderful to know we are not alone.

Here are the latest stats:

  • 65% of mothers say they have been motivated by their families to make sacrifices for work—anything from quitting a job to turning down a promotion
  • 46% of the above women who made family-related career sacrifices report they are “very happy” with their lives
  • 53% of married mothers with children under the age of 18 say their ideal career would allow them to work part-time… compared to 23% who said full-time… and 23% who said they’d prefer not to work at all

The article goes on to contrast these findings with the scads of recent news stories about women “leaning in” and making great career strides. I want to say, that I am all for equality in the workplace, and I applaud strong women accomplishing great things and breaking down stereotypes. However as someone who once leaned in, I am happy to now lean back a bit and focus on my family. It was a conscious decision on my part. I love working part time, setting my own hours, selecting projects and clients—the ball is in my court—and it all revolves around my family.

So for me, personally, the stereotype I run into is this: People expect that once you have “done it all” that you should continue DoingItAll. So to hear that 65% of mothers say they too have made sacrifices in their career lives… that is extremely gratifying. Maybe the tide is turning and society will start seeing beyond women’s careers in judging their status in life. Raising wonderful children into productive, kind adults should count among the world’s toughest—and most rewarding—assignments.

Last week, the magazine Working Mother retweeted the following: “I don’t see a problem with women leaving the workforce for family. I see a problem with them being unable to get back in.” (Lauren R. Parker) That may be the next chapter down the road for some of us, as our children grow, leave the nest, and we attempt to re-enter the full-time job market.

Back to The Atlantic… I admire how W. Bradford Wilcox summarizes it all up in his article:

This data suggests that one reason married mothers who make work sacrifices are happier is that they would prefer to scale back at work—at least for some portion of their lives as mothers—and are happier when they can do so.

This reality is often glossed over in the public conversation about work, women, and family, but as Catherine Rampell at The New York Times observed: “Not everyone aspires to be an executive at Facebook, like [Sheryl] Sandberg, or to set foreign policy, like Anne-Marie Slaughter” (author of “Why Women Can’t Have It All”).” Instead, as K.J. Dell’Antonia put it, most women are “striving for flexibility and balance” when it comes to juggling their aspirations for success at home and work.

Again, in the public conversation and the formulation of public policies regarding work and family, let us not forget that the happiest married mothers are those who are able to lean homeward, at least for a season in their lives.

So here’s how it all boils down for me:

I have jumped off the full-time Merry-Go-Round of DoingItAll. Now, having one foot on the merry-go-round, working part-time, still involves a good amount of juggling but it’s manageable and fulfilling. I have no regrets about putting my family first. Good friends truly understand this and are supportive. And if people aren’t supportive then they are missing the point, missing the importance of family, and I truly feel sad for them. DoingItAll is indeed possible, for periods of time—however, some area(s) of your life will suffer. I think the real secret to DoingItAll is to give yourself the gift of grace… because there are times in your life when you simply can’t do it all. And that’s ok.

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Cause for Celebration!

red cakeBy Karen Hendricks

“Off the Merry-Go-Round” is celebrating its first birthday! And we are so grateful to everyone who has joined us on this journey.

Whether you are a parent, mom or dad, or even a grandparent, working in an office or working at home, juggling your family with part-time or full-time employment, we are thankful that you are reading, laughing or stressing with us, commenting, offering advice and adding to this community.

When the six of us embarked on this venture a year ago, we sure hoped YOU would find us… and plenty of YOU did and are still finding and joining us. Thanks a bunch! We love hearing from you and reading your words of wisdom.

Check out this COOL word art, created when we plugged our website URL into Wordle.net. It’s generated from the most commonly-used words over the past year. Any surprise that “family” and “time” are the most prominent words? Pretty fascinating, eh?

one year wordle

When we launched this website a year ago, all six of us had pretty much left full-time employment in the dust. We all worked (certainly inside the home—but outside the home as well!) and our careers were all taking a backseat. Our first stab at a mission and tagline went like this:

Mission: to provide a place of community & inspiration for moms who have left corporate or full-time careers in order to spend more time with their children & families. Re-prioritizing, they are seeking more meaningful, enriched family lives.  

Welcome and congrats for “jumping off the merry-go-round.” Enjoy this blog as a source of community and inspiration for all moms who have scaled back their professional careers in favor of more enriching family time.

A lot has changed in the past year! Several of us have taken on new jobs and larger career roles… and there are times when we wonder if we are truly “off the merry-go-round.”

Most of our subjects here are about balance… trying to maintain balance between work and family, sanity and insanity! But seriously, we don’t want to make anyone feel excluded. Just because a parent is a full-time working parent doesn’t mean he/she can’t still cherish family time. And we wanted to be honest about our situations… we aren’t 100% stay-at-home moms, yet we all strive to carve out family time, to make life as meaningful as possible for our families. We want this website to reflect how much we love and care about our families as our number one priority.

We wanted to reflect this slightly different outlook so we switched up our mission/tagline and are redefined as:

Off the Merry-Go-Round: A place of community and inspiration for parents who cherish time with their children and families.

* Let us know what you think about our change! And we sure hope you stick around for the next year… 🙂

 

Guest Blog: Getting Off the Merry-Go-Round

By Guest Blogger, Marian Parsons, AKA “Miss Mustard Seed”

This post originally appeared on missmustardseed.com on December 30,2012, and caught our attention!  Marian is a youth pastor’s wife, mother of two little boys and a lover of all things home. In addition to running her own business, Mustard Seed Interiors LLC, and authoring her blog, she is a freelance writer for HGTV.com, CountryLiving.com and a contributor to Cottages and Bungalows magazine (DIY Essentials Column). Her DIY projects have appeared in numerous additional publications and her first book Inspired You is currently #2 on Amazon’s Best-Selling Decorating Books. We are honored to republish “Getting Off the Merry-Go-Round” with her permission:

Miss-Mustard-SeedIn my business I’ve had to make some tough decisions.  The hardest thing for me is to say no and to set limits.  I want to fly as high as my wings can carry me and I don’t want to be limited by things like sleep and time to crash on the sofa to watch a movie.  I love my work and I love being productive, so it’s hard for me to sit, be still and rest.  It’s hard for me to see the great potential in something and then say no to it and make a clear decision to not pursue it.

Well, after about a year of going back and forth about it in my mind, I have made the difficult decision to leave The Old Lucketts Store as a vendor.  I know, I know.  It’s Lucketts!  How could I leave Lucketts?!  I know I don’t need to justify myself to all of you, but I thought I would lay out how I came to that decision in the hopes that it might help others who are thinking through some tough business (or maybe even personal) decisions.

1.)  It’s a matter of money.  When I looked at my year end profit and loss statement, I was pretty amazed to see that 2/3 of my gross income came from my blog and freelance writing jobs, leaving only 1/3 from merchandise.  Of that 1/3, about 1/3 was made in just two events (the May fair and the Christmas open house.)  Then when I looked at my investments, I saw that I spent almost twice as much on pieces to resell than I did on supplies for photo shoots and materials for projects.  Now, I know there is a lot more earning potential at Lucketts and I simply haven’t had the time to put into it to get more out of it.  From a business perspective, I had to look at my income and make the decision to put more time and money into the area that’s getting the highest return – blogging and writing.

2.) It’s a matter of time.  I am regularly asked how I do all I do.  Well, the simple answer is that I’m often hanging-on-by-a-thread and flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants and holding on-for-dear-life, which is fun, but it can be exhausting and overwhelming, too.  Over the past year, I have known that I needed to cut some things out.  I spend the majority of my time shopping for Lucketts, painting pieces for Lucketts, pricing for Lucketts, driving to Lucketts…you get the idea.  It’s a good 3-4 days of my week spent on Lucketts, which would be fine if that was my primary source of income, but since it’s not, it’s not a good return on my time.  What has kept me there for so long is all of the intangibles.  It’s great exposure.  I LOVE it.  I love working with the people there.  I love the interaction with my customer and readers.  All of those things made it tough to leave.

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3.) It’s a matter of goals.  There is a lot more that I want to do.  I have ideas for new colors and products to go along with the milk paint line.  There is so much more I want to do with my blog to make it informative, functional, inviting, etc.  I have a list of house projects a mile long that have been put on the back burner for a couple of years.  I’m really excited about having the time to pursue those ideas.

4.) It’s a matter of reality.  I’m often called a machine, but the truth is that I’m not.  I have periods of burnout and I just had a long stretch of it.  I just wanted to lay on the couch and watch old episodes of ER.  I love all that I’m doing, but I can’t continue at this pace.  As much as I like to think I can keep piling exciting projects on, I can’t and it’s time I recognize that and make changes accordingly.

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So, what does this mean for you, the reader?

Will I still write this blog?  YES!  That’s one reason I’m leaving Lucketts.  I want to be able to give more of my professional time to my blog.  I’m actually hoping to increase the number of posts I write each week and that slowing down in other areas will give me time to increase the content on my blog.  You see, I have had to work at such a rapid pace to keep my space filled at Lucketts that I can only show you a small percentage of what I do.  I rarely have time to film a video tutorial or take step-by-step pictures and I would love to do more of that.  I also want to give more attention to my house and blog all about that.  I have other ideas, too, about maybe expanding into sharing some foodie posts (Miss Mustard Seed’s Kitchen) and starting a companion blog with my husband (The Mustard Seed Workshop.)

Will I still refinish furniture to share on my blog and to sell?  Of course.  It’s what I do.  I don’t think I could handle NOT doing furniture!  I’m still going to be a vendor at the Lucketts Fair in May and I’ll probably do smaller pieces that I can make available for sale online.  I’m excited about setting my own pace and not having to worry about filling a physical space.  And would you believe I have furniture in my house that needs to be refinished and/or painted and I just haven’t had time to do it?  I’m also going to finally make some other things available for sale online like t-shirts, German Glass Glitter, some handmade items and vintage finds.  If my house starts to look like a storage unit, I’ll have a tag sale in my yard!

Like I said, it was a tough decision and I felt a little panicked after I gave my notice.  My business has been retail-driven for a long time, but now that I have a blog, product line and a book, it’s time to focus on those things and I think my business will be the better for it in the long run.  Thank you so much to Suzanne and all of the vendors at Lucketts for taking me under your wing, fluffing and filling my space when I was writing my book, and for being so encouraging and inspiring.  It’s an amazing store and I’m so honored I had a chance to be a part of it.

Enjoy a photo gallery of Miss Mustard Seed’s work, below, and be sure to check out her blog.  We wish her much continued success–congrats on having the faith to cut back and step off the merry-go-round!