Work/Life Balance

In the past, I had never thought about setting up and running a small business as I was happy with my career in the UK as a Health & Safety Manager. However, I ended up starting a new business when I left my job in Stuttgart  and moved to the other end of Germany. I was at home with my son thinking that I wanted a good work/life balance – wanting to have something that I was clearly interested in while wanting to be at home with my son.

The choices for women with young children are to work full-time, (can be managed but essential to have good family support in time of illness, school holidays etc), work part-time (great but well-paid part-time work is difficult to find) or be a stay at home mum. When my son was 7 months old, I was offered a fantastic opportunity to work on a part-time basis for an international company as a Health & Safety Manager. It sort of worked, but with a few issues along the way.  The job was originally full-time and what transpired was that I worked 4 hours each day in the office and once my son went to bed at night I had to squeeze the rest of my job into the remaining hours in the evening which also often extended into the weekends.  When I look back on this I realise the enormous pressure I put my self under.  A first time mum with no family support, a new job which transpired not to be part-time and dealing with a foreign language in a Business environment.

So the perfect opportunity arose when we moved and I had to give up my job.  Once I knew which business I wanted to set up, and after doing some research on Baby & Toddler online selling and writing up a business plan, I thought that this, for me, is the perfect way to have that all important work/life balance. I could be there for my son in the afternoon when he comes home from Kindergarten, enjoy doing extra curricular activities with him, and start to build a business that would hopefully in the coming years give me enough profit to sustain myself.

Over the past year since I started easytoddler, I feel like the work/life balance is right and it is perfect to be at home working on the business as well as being there for my son. However, there are times when work does take over a bit (although I know now how to limit that). I now put times in the diary when I need to do certain things and make sure that I try to do things with my son when he is at home and not keep sneaking off to check my emails. The business can get to be all-consuming if you let it but I am working on that and I am trying to do enough of the right type of marketing to grow the business year on year with a new launch planned for 2012.  So please watch this space!

Have you had a similar experience?

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BundleBean 5-in1 Waterproof Fleece Foot-Muff

Some product reviews on Baby and Toddler Products are easy to write and this is one of them.  When BundleBean offered to send me a sample of their 5-in-1 Waterproof Fleece Foot-Muff (Fußsack) I got very excited at the opportunity of reviewing a brand new product not yet available to the German market.

Firstly, a wee bit of background information on the story behind BundleBean.  The designer is  a mother of two who came up with the ingenious idea on how she could combat the amount of expensive kit needed by parents when venturing out and about with their little one.  BundleBean is a blanket which coverts into a foot-muff that fits on to all buggies, bike seats, rear facing car seats and also cleverly converts into a front style baby carrier.  It also opens out flat for use as a travel picnic rug or play mat.  It really is a one stop solution.  I liked using it as a foot-muff (Fußsack) for Roan´s bike seat when we cycled to Kindegarten. Particularly last week when the weather turned colder.  My husband was unfortunately away so I couldn´t get any pictures of Roan and I using it.  But promise to post some soon.

BundleBean is so versatile that it can be used from Baby to Toddler and from the Winter through to the Summer months.  All this in just one Blanket!

Everything has been thought of.  When using it as a baby carrier there is a pouch pocket to keep your hands cosy and to keep things in.  A waterproof nylon shell to keep your little one dry and  backed with fleece to keep them warm.  It comes in 3 different colours; pink, blue and black and when you´re not using the BundleBean it rolls up to a nice neat easy to carry bundle.  I am delighted to say that I liked it so much that I decided to add it to my product list and you can now buy the BundleBean here in Germany for the first time from easytoddler.  Another great idea from a clever mum.

I´m a WAHM and proud!

What is a WAHM you´re asking? It´s a great term for a work at home mum; multi-tasker, wife, mother, cook, taxi driver, cleaner, teacher and mumpreneur.  The list is endless but you get the picture.  And this, I am happy to say, is my now my station in life.  In the past this wasn´t something I thought about, going self-employed, working from home and being my own boss but I am so glad that I did.

Although easytoddler has been operating since June 2009 I was only selling one product, the Thudguard Baby Safety Helmet whilst still working full-time as a Health & Safety Manager.  In June this year easytoddler expanded its range of Baby & Toddler products and I went full-time running my own online-shop and what a roller coaster of a journey it has been.  Perhaps if I hadn´t been so naive and knew exactly what an Online business entailed I would probably have run as fast as I could in the other direction.  Thankfully my naivety has led me on a path to a fantastic new learning experience and great networking opportunities, where I have interacted with a whole new world of hard working, inspirational Mumpreneurs.  One of the challenges has probably been learning all about Search Engine Optimisation.  I sometimes feel like a hungry animal daily searching through Facebook and Twitter for hours on end trying to gather as much information on optimisation tips as I can.  For anyone else thinking about starting a new business these platforms have been a brilliant source of information .  As well as getting free advice from experts I have interacted with some really lovely mums and networking groups, some of whom are there solely to help other mums achieve their dreams and I need to give credit to Alli Price @ www.motivatingmum.com and Joanne Dewberry @www.charliemoos.co.uk who without their advice and inspiration I would still be in the dark.

Yes, it´s not all been plain sailing and one of the biggest hurdles is running a business in a foreign country with a language that I am not totally fluent in.  However, it is improving my German, and on the positive side this can only be a plus.  I probably now work more hours in the day on my business than I did in my old job but who´s counting, not me.  It´s irrelevant cause it means I am here when my son comes home from Kindergarten.  I close my laptop till after my son is in bed and enjoy my other role, being a mum.  If I can give one piece of advice to another wannabe Mumpreneur it would be to get networking, build as many relationships as possible with other people or groups relevant to your business.  It costs nothing!

easytoddler HQ

Note the spectacles another bi-product of working on the laptop

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