For the past four years I have made it my priority to be a work at home parent.
I actually never thought I'd be a work at home parent. I invested a lot of time, money and energy in my education and building my career. So, it was big surprise to me when, after my son was born, I just couldn't bear the thought of going back to my 9 to 5 job.
Recently one of my friends commented to me that she admired how I've been able to keep my career in line with my values and family priorities and work at what I enjoy.
Actually, I know plenty of people, whether they have children or not, who feel that way. They'd love to spend less time working outside the home and have more freedom and time for themselves and their family, but, of course, you have to pay the mortgage and put food on the table, so money is always a big issue.
When I decided I couldn't return to my previous career, it meant that my family was giving up half of our household income. Happily, I found my answer to that problem.
Before my son was born, my career mattered to me - a lot. I worked as a career counselor, and as is the case with many people, a big sense of my self worth came from my career.
As a career counselor, I helped moms develop the skills and confidence they needed to return to the workforce after years at home raising their children. I helped internationally trained professionals gain meaningful employment in their new home country, and I worked with plenty of clients who needed to make a career change because, for a variety of reasons, their current jobs no longer met their needs.
I loved working with my clients.
Then my son was born, and I experienced a seismic shift in my values and priorities.
That became my new motto after my son was born. Now, before you start thinking I didn't care about my clients and I wanted to lie around watching TV and eating candy all day - let me explain.
I certainly don't believe that working hard to build something you truly want in your life is overrated. Most things in life that are worthwhile require hard work. When something is really important to me I can be completely focused and goal oriented. I will make sacrifices, word hard and dig in to find a way to create what I need or want in my life.
On the other hand, work ethic, in my opinion, describes the quality you need to force yourself to do something you think you 'should' do, like tolerating long commutes and dragging yourself into the office every day, when your personal values are not being met because you'd rather be doing something else, like focusing on your family, doing something more creative, or just working in a different way.
So, because I really wanted to be at home with my son, sacrificing my time with him every day to go to a job and build someone else's business required "work ethic" from me. And that, in my opinion, is completely overrated.
As I mentioned, leaving my job also meant leaving half of our family income. In my job, I saw plenty of people on the verge of losing everything because they were completely dependent on the income from the job that they just lost. Working in that environment caused me to be pretty careful about my own fixed expenses, so my husband and I lived well within our means. Because of that, I was able to quit my 9 to 5 job to be at home with my son.
I was thrilled to have accomplished what was most important to me; I was at home with my son. I had plenty of time to take him to the beach, play in our backyard and take him to swimming lessons. However, being a stay at home mom wasn't quite right for me. I wanted to be a work at home mom.
I wanted to:
was to build my own business. I quickly decided that I wanted to build a business based on something that I loved. I felt that in order to have the freedom and flexibility that I wanted, I'd have to build it for myself.
I have always loved creative work; I started my career as a music teacher but was quickly promoted out of work that was creatively satisfying. So I gathered up my art supplies and my courage, took a business management course and launched my jewelry business.
My business has been a real blessing. I've worked hard at building it, and although it's not typical to make a profit in your first year in business, my jewelry business did bring in a good income for me within the first year that I launched it.
As I was researching resources from my jewelry business, I came across a set of tools called Site Build It!. Site Build It! is an all in one set of software tools that allows you to turn your interests or passion into a viable online business even if you know nothing about building and marketing a website.
At that point, I realized that I could take all of my career counseling experience and combine it with everything I had learned in building my jewelry business to build a site that was a comprehensive business resource to support other professional craft artists.
It takes commitment to build a profitable business, but because I'm working at something that I love doing, it rarely feels like work. My business is a great fit for my interests and values, the way I like to work and my family's needs. I'm fairly certain I wouldn't have found all of that in a traditional job, and I'm so pleased with this new direction in my career.
If you've been considering adding an online component to your own craft business, you can find more information about the tools I use to build and promote this site here.