Do less, achieve more?

I've not had time to write posts for Business Plus Baby in the last few weeks. When I've said that in the past, there's usually been a bit of procrastination involved – I could have done it if I'd really pushed myself. But in the last few weeks I really haven't had time. I've even struggled to find the time to eat and have a shower. Seriously.

If I don't have the time to eat, how will I ever have time to run a business? This is what has been creeping into my mind lately, especially when I'm tired or both babies are crying at the same time.  My youngest is only 7 weeks old, so I know it's very early days. Business mums Heather, Helen and Sam (who have children with a similar age gap to mine) assure me that it does get easier as time goes by. Even so, I find myself trying to cram more and more into the tiny bit of 'free' time I have.

So it was a breath of fresh air to read this post on the Zen Habits blog yesterday.

Childcare tips for home-based business Mums

Childcare for mums running home-based businesses is completely different from childcare for employed mums. Most mums running a business do so because they want to spend more time with their children, so need and want less childcare. For mums like me who have two children under two, then childcare is so expensive that it would swallow up virtually all of my pay (even though I’m a graduate and was earning a half-decent salary!). So being an employee is out of the question for financial reasons anyway.

This leaves mums of pre-schoolers who are starting a business with a problem. You can’t afford childcare until your business takes off, but your business needs some child-free time if it’s ever going to take off. You can scrape together every free hour you can find – nap times, evenings, weekends – and this may be okay in the short-term. But eventually your family life, your ‘me-time’ and your relationship with your partner is going to suffer, which is going to make you miserable.

So it makes sense to buy yourself some free hours in the week if you can.  Like anything else to do with childcare in the UK, there are no easy or inexpensive solutions, but here are a few ideas you could try.

1. Pre-Schools Some pre-schools take children as young as two years old. You’ll need to pay for them up until after the child’s third birthday, but they tend to be cheaper than nurseries.  A couple of mornings or afternoons each week could be affordable, could give you some much-needed business time and be good for your child too. See your local council’s website for a list of pre-schools in your area.

2. Different Children, Different Childcare I used to assume that I’d need to both children to go the same childcare setting and this would be too expensive, but another mum suggested that my older child could go to a nursery, childminder or relative while my younger one stayed with me. It wouldn’t give me that perfect uninterrupted work time, but I stand more chance of getting some peace with a young baby in the house  than with a baby and a toddler around. It hadn’t occurred to me that I could split them up! Being self employed may give you options to juggle childcare that simply wouldn’t be possible as an employee because you can make use of the odd hour here and there.

3. Other Mums Could a friend babysit your children for a few hours, then you babysit hers in return? She wouldn’t have to be a business mum, any mum with small children would appreciate a few hours to herself!

4. Have you explored all the funding options? Can your partner get childcare vouchers from work? Have you looked into the childcare component of tax credits? You may not get much, but as a well-known supermarket tells us, every little helps!

5. Relatives and Parents This one is only for those lucky enough to have grandparents living close by. You might not have felt comfortable asking your children’s grandparents to look after them for several days a week, every week when you were employed. But now you’re self employed, an afternoon a week could make a real difference to you. It could be a really good experience for both child and gran, as well as giving you some working time.

As I said, there are no easy solutions to this one. But I always try to remember that children grow fast and as a work-at-home-mum, I’ll get to see much more of them than I would as an employee. As my children grow, start pre-school and then school, I’ll gradually have more time to grow my business too.

Business Ideas for Mums – Selling on Ebay

What is it?

Making an income from selling on auction website eBay.

Benefits

  • You can work at any time of the day or night – although you'll need to respond to customers promptly.
  • You can spend as much or as little time on it as you want.
  • It's cheap and quick to start up compared with setting up your own online shop.

Things to consider

  • Low prices

Items on Ebay are usually at a  low price – this is because you are competing in a marketplace with thousands of sellers, many of whom aren't looking to make much of a profit.  As well as people looking to clear their lofts, you're also competing with shop owners who are shifting excess stock and ends of lines. This allows them to keep their prices at a reasonable level on their own websites or in their high street shops. You'll need to choose your product carefully if you're going to make an income rather than just a few quid here and there.

  • What to sell

Look for items you can get hold of cheaply and easily but that others probably can't. Do you have a factory shop near you? Do you have an eye for good quality items  at car boot sales? Do you have an interest in something vintage? You could try selling a few different types of items and see which bring in the best profit – I did pretty well when I sold almost-new vegetarian shoes (yes, really!).

  • Don't forget to register as self employed

If you're emptying your loft, then you probably don't need to declare the income you make from this to HMRC (although check this out if you're in any doubt). But if you're making an income from selling on  eBay you'll need to register as self employed.

Further information

  • Take a look at eBay for how to sell

The basics of how to sell – http://pages.ebay.co.uk/sell/basics/start.html Information about fees is here – http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/sell/fees.html

Mums' Club have a useful guide to selling on Ebay http://www.mumsclub.co.uk/html/selling_on_ebay.html

  • Alternatives to eBay

For crafts and handmade items: www.etsy.com www.dawanda.co.uk www.folksy.com www.misi.co.uk Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/seller-account/mm-product-page.html?topic=200314070&?ld=UKAZSOAMake Other auction sites (although these have many fewer visitors than the mighty eBay): uk.ebid.net www.cqout.com specialistauctions.com Tazbar.com was another auction website, although it has now closed. Not convinced that selling on eBay is for you? Take a look at other business ideas for mums.

Becoming a parent for the second time

Becoming a parent for the second time is very different to the first time.

Like all second-timers, we wondered how we could possibly love baby two as much as we loved baby number one.  In the first fifteen months of her life, Little Lindop One had been a lot of hard work – how were we going to find double the time and energy? I wasn’t too worried because I knew that we’d muddle through somehow, because we always do! What was bothering me was this : was I crazy thinking I could run a business and care for a baby and tiny toddler?

Little Lindop Two is now four weeks old and although life is very busy indeed, it isn’t as hard as I expected. The fact that I’m sitting here writing this is proof that I can get a little time away from the little ones, and that feels like quite an achievement! Two babies aren’t twice as much work as one for a couple of good reasons, firstly we actually know how to care for a baby and aren’t on the white-knuckle learning curve we were last time. (Should she be making that noise? Is that a rash? Is she still hungry? Have we packed everything we need for a trip to the shops? How does the pushchair fold up?). Secondly, and this is the big one, we don’t have the massive culture shock of becoming parents. Until baby two arrived, I hadn’t realised just what an impact this shock had on me last time. But I do remember looking at my 24-hour-old first child wondering how my life was ever going to feel normal again. I didn’t even know what normal was going to be, oh god, I’d need to work out a whole new normal.

Looking at my 24-hour-old second child, I just knew he’d fit into our family and our rough-and-ready plans for the future. This time I could change a nappy in the dark or on the back seat of a car, I knew what baby eczema looked like and what to do about it, my changing bag was already packed and I could fold most brands of pushchair. I’d only been a parent fifteen months, but what a change those fifteen months had made to me.

At work, I’d handed in my notice, been offered a temporary contract, put my eight-month-old daughter in a nursery, taken her out of the nursery four months later and then gone on my second maternity leave. I’d researched many options for running my own business and started my own website. All of which has given me a huge amount of confidence in coping with babies and work. As a Mum I know I’m still wearing my ‘L’ plates, but have a feeling that I can cope with whatever the world of work throws at me.

Most days, that is. I still have regular tired days when I’ve done three nappy changes in a half-hour, both babies are crying at the same time and I haven’t been out of the house in days (I had a c-section so couldn’t drive or push a double buggy. Nightmare). But everyone has a bad day now and then, tomorrow is always better.

So can I run a business around two very small children? The simple answer is that I still don’t know until I try, but the future is looking bright from where I’m standing. Keep reading to see how I get on.

Oh, and we needn’t have worried, we can love baby number two as much as we do baby number one.

Business plus two babies!

My baby is due this week, so I won’t be posting as much as usual for a short while (hopefully just a few weeks). Apparently the secret is to learn to breastfeed and type at the same time…

I’m hoping Mr L will help out and do a bit of writing from a Dad’s point of view, but he’s likely to be pretty busy with the little ones too!

I’ll be back as soon as I can…