10 Tips For Joyfully Running a Small/Home Business with your Spouse

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Owen and I hosting our podcast together for Thriving, Sexy Marriage 

Well summer has come and is almost over, so my transition period after quitting my job to come home and help my husband run our small business is slowly turning into the daily grind. There was much trial and error the first 3 months, but I think we have finally hit a sweet spot. Praise the Lord. The first month was the hardest for sure. But I’m all about fine tuning my work so that it runs like a machine. And through the tearful trials and fist slamming errors, I have come up with 10 tips I think will really help any woman who decides to work with her husband in a small/home business. They have helped us tremendously and as I figure out more, I will happily share. I really think these tips would be helpful even for women who stay home and their husbands work from home, but perhaps the wife is not too involved in the business side of things. As a helpmate, there is still some crossover that happens. Like, share, and comment if you agree.

1.Get an effective morning and evening routine down.

If you need to create a checklist to start it, then do that until the routine is down pat. This will help you start the day and end the day feeling so much more un top of things and with a clear idea of what the heck you are doing. My work week routine looks like this: exercise, coffee and bible study, prayer with husband, get kids up and to school, back home to get ready myself and breakfast. That’s a lot to squeeze in the morning so I wake up at 5:45 to do it. Yes I could sleep in until 7 am when I wake up my kids. But I wouldn’t be ready to be present with them while they were up. And I would end up putting exercise and my relationship with God on the back burner to work and other obligations. This provides the balance I need in my life. That is my morning routine. What could yours look like? Night time is equally as important. Prepping lunches for the next day, making sure the dishwasher is running the day’s dishes, quality time with the honey and family, enjoying quality time togther…so many important things to do each night that can easily set up a routine for the work week.

2. Start and end each day together in prayer–and before every big “meeting.”

Owen and I have learned quickly that prayer is key to helping us work together well and to verbally remind ourselves and offer to God our faith that he be in control and guide us in our daily activities. It also helps us be more united as we can be vulnerable together in our thanksgiving and requests.

3. Enjoy the intimacy benefits of being together throughout the day.

Change up the daily routine sometimes and take an extra long lunch break or a surprise morning break. This is what makes owning your own business together so unifying and fun. There are not sexual harassment laws to watch for, and all work flirtation and dating is perfectly permissible.

4. Set boundaries between the husband/wife relationship and the business partner relationship.

Don’t let the work stress interfere with the husband/wife relationship or vise versa or else all will be chaos!! That means– if hubby thinks you need to revise the blah blah blah form that you spend all morning working on, you don’t get to ignore him at dinner time. If you got into an argument the night before, that doesn’t mean you don’t email that client he is trying to woo into a bigger contract or schedule that meeting with hubs over your new campaign.

5. Dress for the day and look nice!

This will improve the quality of your work because you feel ready but it also keeps the attraction strong in the marriage. It is so important to respect your spouse as you would traditional colleagues. Showing up to work in sweat pants, a stained pajama shirt, and your unbrushed hair would be offensive to everyone. If you show them you care by dressing for the job, do the same for your business partner and spouse.

6. Decide together on a time to close the business and return to 100 percent husband/wife and family time.

Hold each other accountable to that agreed upon time. Yes, there’s that  one final email or that transaction in Quickbooks, or another edit you could make to your project. But you can do them all tomorrow and chances are the world will still turn. Give into those urges all the time, and your spouse and kids will always have memories of mom not being really present and just wrapped up in her phone or the computer all the time. You don’t want to have those regrets and perhaps a lack in closeness in those relationships because of those decisions. If you need to get a box to put your phones in so they are out of sight, this is an amazing one.

7. Don’t forget to set goals and dream together about your future.

This is essential to staying motivated and excited about working together. What kind of house will you buy? What charities will you donate to? What trips will you take?

8. Set milestone rewards along the way that benefit the marriage and family.

Pipe dream goals only work to an extent. You’ve got to keep the energy up with some immediate rewards along the way. For example, meet goal #1 and go on a nice date night. Meet goal #2 and get away for the weekend. Reach goal #3 than celebrate with the whole family on a Disneyland Trip….the options are endless. But those will help you and your spouse continue pushing to reach those bigger goals and of course create more unity as a couple and family in helping each other reach those goals.

9. Set up a meeting at the beginning of every week to calendar the week together.

We like Sunday nights or Monday mornings. It gives us time to look at our individual schedules and the family calendar to figure out the week: when is soccer practice? Who invited us to dinner and what days are we available? Who is going to the parent/teacher conference? How am I going to do this and that the same night you are flying out-of-state? It really helps prevent schedule conflicts that don’t show up until the day or moment of and inevitably ends in at least a bickering match.

10. Don’t forget why you decided to work together.

If you push those benefits and reasons off to the back burner, you lose them and working together may no longer be something you enjoy.

Bonus #1 Look into medical sharing co-ops as an alternative to expensive health insurance.

We are doing Christian Healthcare Ministries. Its costs $385 monthly donation for our whole family. Then if we need to go to the hospital or doctor’s office we pay the first $1000 per medical incident and then the co-op pays for the rest. We love it!! If you decide to join, let them know I referred you. I’ll get my next months monthly obligitory donation forgiven. 🙂

Bonus #2:If kids are at home while you are still working, take breaks to bond with them and plan activities to keep them busy during work sessions. 

It’s not always easy, but I like to do a 2 hr work session while my daughter does one predetermined activity. Then we take a break and run an errand, or read jump on the trampoline together, and have lunch. Then I do another shorter 1 hr session while she does another activity. Then its story and nap time for her for my 2nd hour work session before I’m off to pick up the brothers from school and do the whole after school routine with them, including karate or soccer practice, homework, and chores.

Hope you find these helpful! Like and share if enjoyed these tips and feel free to leave a comment sharing any tips of your own if you too work from home with your spouse.

 

 

 

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Perspective: My First Month as a Full-Time Entrepreneurial Wife and Mom

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Enjoying Social Media Expert Wife benefits at the Bahia Resort while hubby spoke for Social Media Day SD.

Well it has been one month since I’ve been home from my teaching job and boy has it been mostly…….very hard. Ugh. I said it. Doesn’t mean I regret it. I just need to get through the transition. Quitting a salaried full-time position to be a full-time entrepreneurial wife and mom is a difficult transition. It’s not the same as quitting a job to be a full-time mom and wife (which is already a challenge in itself) because now I still have to work while doing the rest all at the same time. And my job is completely different than teaching high school English. It’s a completely different beast.

One of the current struggles I’m having is learning to give up my summer. I’m 37 years old and I have ALWAYS had summers off. I had summers off in grade school, high school, college, and then I became a teacher and I continued to have summer’s off. But now this summer, I’m not on vacation. I work from home. Although, to help me put things in perspective, I did get to enjoy an awesome time at the Bahia Resort last weekend with my kiddos while Owen spoke there for Social Media Day.

IMG_3079But on a typical week, I’m helping Owen with his business doing the tedious side work he shouldn’t be doing but has not been able to find an employee or virtual assistant to do it well or for any decent length of time. No one cares for the business the way we care for the business. I’m the best person for the job. And then I’m also writing scripts and recording videos for our Thriving, Sexy Marriage ministry.

I was really overwhelmed by all I’m learning the first 2 weeks but it’s getting a little easier the last two weeks. It has been “all Greek to me.” Learning Quickbooks, learning how to create “marketing tunnels” and use “auto-responder emails”, and refurbishing video into blogs, writing scripts, making gif memes, and recording myself without using a teleprompter like I’m used to….it’s a lot.

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our first podcast for thrivingsexymarriage was a hit and so much fun!

I cried a lot the first two weeks. More tears the first weeks then I’ve cried in months. There are many reasons. Everything is new. I was messing up on things. Everything takes longer. AND I’m not used to having my husband as my boss. (Whoa–that is hard for a woman who pretty much closes the doors to her classroom and teaches as she pleases). Because of the preoccupation with all that, I haven’t been speaking Owen’s love language, and when that happens, it doesn’t energize him to speak mine, which then doesn’t energize me to speak his, and…… you get the picture. We are marriage coaches, we know what is going on when we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing. Sometimes not always in the moment, but when fed up with it, we can look at it and figure it out. Haha. So– we figured it out and we are back on track. This week we have been two little love birds—-on the same page, speaking each other’s love languages, and unified. Yay for victory #1!

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Jameson and Kanan rekindling their love for legos.

Still working on victory #2–mastering working and taking care of kids on summer break all a the same time. So how do I do all that? I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure it out. I have about 30 hours worth of work I need to do each week to get everything done and so I’m doing 2-hour shifts here, then breaking for lunch and taking the kids out for an errand, and then doing another 2-hour shift there and trying to complete the third 2-hour shift at night after they go to bed, but not every night.

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Benny is so loving to his sister

The struggle is finding activities that keep the kids occupied for the 2-hour-shifts. The videos have taken the longest amount of time because I’m still learning how to set up the set and test equipment, then there’s practicing lines, and then recording. We’ve had two or three recording days where we worked for 3 hours straight and the kids just had to watch like two movies back to back. I felt terrible. So I really want to tighten that time and I know I can in time as this type of work becomes more second nature to me. I did enroll them in three different VBS’s in North County. So that will give me some time between 9-12 to work with fewer distractions and give them an opportunity to learn and have fun. We go to Utah for 10 days as well and then its just a week or two after before school starts. So the VBS programs will definitely help.

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me and my friend Carmen–yay for birthdays!

Still, I’m finding that my belief that I’d have time to visit my friends or have playdates or take 2 hour breaks for day trips with my kids is just not happening. Especially when we have scheduled karate and soccer practices taking up late afternoon time after I finish the work for the day. Oh and not more house keeper so I need to do that. With 4 kids home, the house gets messy fast, and every task for the business also takes longer due to distractions– someone is hungry for snacks, someone hit someone, someone is not wearing underpants (yes I have 1 free spirit–guess who?), someone fell and needs a bandaid…you know the drill.

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a third of my bunco group! Yay for friends and chocolate!

Still, weekends and some evenings I have had some great moments. We had a birthday party for Jameson a couple of weeks ago and I got to see friends and family then and also had some friends over for the 4th of July and had a great time. I also continue my monthly Bunco group on the last Sunday of the month. While my weekly bible study group is on summer vacation, I have started going to a bimonthly art group at my church that meets in the evenings…so again, it’s all about perspective. It’s not how I envisioned it, but I’m still getting some friend/adult time in other ways.

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Scotty and I in the cabanas at the resort for Social Media Day

This is why I keep reminding myself it’s about perspective…not like I expected but still good– So while I feel like I’m not getting the amount of time in with my kids that I had envisioned and even wondered if I actually got more time with them when I was a teacher, I did the calculations. Yes, I actually sat down with a calculator and figured out that as a stay-at home-working mom with the schedule I currently have, even while working through summer, I will still have 480 hours a year more time with my kids then if I worked away from home as a teacher. That is twenty, full 24-hour-days more or forty actual-day-time days more each year. So that is awesome and helps put things in perspective.

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Babysitting my nephews a few weeks ago was a blast . This is little Caleb with my daughter, Scotland and I

Owen also gave me some pointers (He’s good at that) ….to start looking at the tasky activities with the kids as those moments to create connections with them and connect. Driving the kids on an errand can be memorable. Breakfast and lunch can be memorable if I’m using it to teach one of them how to cook something, for example. Even washing dishes after dinner with the kids can be an opportunity for fun or laughter. So I just need to be present in those moments and not see them as just tasks.  So that helps me feel better. As I start moving through my duties more efficiently, it will naturally start creating more open spaces for activities with my kids mid-day. I’m going to try to take them on a trip to the library this Friday. We shall see. 🙂

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Scotty loves snails

So if you have any tips, working from home moms, I’d appreciate it. Would love encouragement, reality checks, you name it. I need it. I have felt pretty pouty and selfish the last couple of weeks but am getting better, knowing this is the right choice.

I just need to get my groove so that it flows. I need to get more organized and consistent. And I need to choose joy even in times of difficult transition.

I started thinking the last couple of days after I realized I was doing what my dad called “stinkin’ thinkin’ and I thought– everyone has something to complain about. Yes, I have lots to complain about over the last couple of weeks. Am I some sad victim that has it so much worse than everyone else? Sure there are women out there who don’t have to work and can enjoy playdates and coffee chats with friends and take their kids to Lego land once a week. But they also may have a husband who drinks too much or is into pornography, a mother they don’t talk to anymore, or they struggle with health problems…. there is ALWAYS something someone can complain about. So do I just sit in this negativity only seeing what I didn’t expect and how hard it is and develop a grumpy, woe-is-me spirit about me? Or do I choose joy? Do I choose to see the blessings even if it is not all I expected? Even if I didn’t get all that I had envisioned initially? We ALL have something to complain about. I don’t want to be that person. So I know its silly because I’m writing this blog, complaining, right? Yes…this is my revised version of a huge vent I initially wrote 2 weeks ago….but I’m hoping that in this revised state you see my recognition for the need of proper perspective.

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Playing “Maricela” at my friend, Laurel’s LulaRoe booth at the fair. 

As I was looking through my photos to post in this blog I was reminded of many happy moments during this difficult transition. Small moments playing with my kids, our hotel stay at the Bahia this last Thursday and Friday, an opportunity for me to help serve my friend Laurel at her booth at the fair, some Bunco fun with friends, Jameson’s birthday where I got to spend time with friends and family, and yesterday we had friends over for the 4th of July.  So I decided to add these photos throughout so you can see that despite my emotional struggles through this transition, I’m just a big whiny baby and am blessed beyond measure 🙂

It’s all about perspective. I never thought it would be easy. I didn’t think it would be this hard. But that is okay. There are many blessings and I will improve my groove and gain so much more. And everything will get easier. So there is my unpoetical, cadenceless conclusion. But its the plain truth.

Thanks for reading. 🙂 Here are some books I want to read to help me get better at this. Have you ready any of them?

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The bay at the Bahia Resort looks small on camera under the panoramic lens but is so much bigger in person! You can’t see all the little shells in the sand from your perspective, but little Benny was mesmerized by all the sea shells in the sand that he could see from his. See…perspective!

Why I’m Leaving My Job to Stay at Home

10665086_10153306429439746_6094945465861559680_nPast Tears and Prayers

I cannot tell you how many times I have cried on my way to work, missing the baby smells of all four of my children’s bald little heads each time I returned to teaching after maternity leave. I’ve felt jealous that some other woman got to hold them, teach them, watch them take their first steps or say their first words and then lie to me when I picked them up so that I did’t get my feelings hurt for not being the one for whom my children showed off.

I cannot tell you how many times I have begged God to open the doors to bring me home and close the doors that keep me working 45-minutes away and so hard that when I come home I am worthless: I’m tired, having given all my energy to other people’s children, and now feigning enthusiasm when my own kids or husband want to share the excitement from their day, but all I can think of is that stack of papers to grade, and that lesson to still plan, and how I’m going to do that along with giving everyone their baths and making dinner and still grabbing that box of diapers because we are down to the last one and the baby will need a fresh one before bedtime. I can barely breathe just saying those words aloud.

10731153_10153301356889746_428918937321489811_nMy husband helps so much. He is a wonderful and attentive father. He wakes up with the kids and makes sure they have breakfast and are dressed before taking them to daycare or school while encouraging them in the day’s events. He takes them to their doctors appointments while I’m at work, reads bible stories in the evening with them, helps them practice their karate moves and makes sure they go through their checkoff list before bed before awarding them their prize-earning stickers. He leads us all in prayer. So I can’t get upset and say my husband doesn’t help. He does. In many ways, he does a better job than I do all while running a business from home.

11537903_1416455935350373_3951834884061779110_oThe Answer

But one day on my way to work two years ago, after I left my daughter with the daycare provider at 8-weeks-old, I was crying to God as usual and felt him strongly tell me that he would bring me home one day, but not now. That I wasn’t ready and that Owen wasn’t ready. We still had more to learn to prepare us. The thoughts came out of no where. I was crying, asking God to please get me laid off  or something and then the words just stopped me in my tracks. I remember it clearly now, sitting at the red light on the 76 right before the 15-on-ramp. And a peace just overcame me. Ok, God. For those of you who have a relationship with the Lord, you know what I’m talking about. When the thoughts and feelings are clearly not yours but they nudge you from the side in the midst of your thought, headed in a different direction entirely. And you test them by comparing them to what the Bible teaches to find they do line up. Then you know–this is from God.

I decided then and there that if this was the case, I was going to really enjoy my job while I still had it. And I did. I’ve always enjoyed teaching, it certainly is a job I love,  but I embraced it with a joy I hadn’t had in years–rekindled that early love for it. You know the kind? The one with fresh ideas and untainted expectation? I’ve written about this in the past. I have felt like a “born again” teacher the last couple of years.

Growth

11224331_10153372509787969_7440667631282452323_nAnd then four months after I drove on to that north-bound freeway at 6:15 that tearful morning,  Owen was diagnosed with stage 3 Thymus Cancer.

And we grew.

Night sweats, chest pains, weight-loss, then finally–answers. Then it was surgery,  chemotherapy, and radiation. Loss of hair, weight, and pride. We were pruned. Stretched. We grew faith and hope. I developed a supernatural strength I didn’t knew I could have. Owen softened with patience and compassion he struggled with before. It was a painful and beautiful trial. Not just our family. But for our friendships, and our marriage.

And then after one year of treatment while still running his business (he is a rock star!), Owen was healed from Cancer. And we celebrated and grew some more as we basked in the sunlight of hope, ready for further growth and new possibilities. Last week we just got our news that Owen is still cancer-free after one year since treatment.

14055127_1266185730072219_2370877723585375866_nThat summer during treatment two years ago, I worked on creating content for a marriage app I invented, realizing I should apply some of what I preached to the world around me. The ideas multiplied. Ideas lead to paper, led to spread sheets, lead to app developers and branding designs. And we grew some more. Then over the last year, the idea for the marriage app morphed into a marriage Facebook page and private group that has lead me to be a part of a movement to strengthen marriages and heal broken ones called Thriving, Sexy Marriages. And so we grew some more. Marriage app still to come. But something else has sprouted in the process.

The Turning Point and the Faith of a Child (or a Husband)

Owen_4_months_before_diagnosisSo when my husband’s business went through some changes this winter that lead us to to reconsider our understanding of God and to trust him in ways we didn’t understand, I would never have guessed that it would yield in my husband a desire for me to step out in faith with him and quit my job to come home. By no means was it a surge of prosperity that lead to this decision. Something I thought would need to happen for that decision to ever happen.

This was not how I had envisioned it. But God’s plans are not our plans. God did not say we weren’t ready yet because Owen’s business wasn’t making him so rich we could quit mine and still live a life of quarterly weekend getaways, season passes to Legoland, and a winter cabin in Big Bear. I thought this when he said we weren’t ready. But I have learned that God was talking about our character. Our faith. Our growth as husband and wife. Our unity and vision for our future.

224049_10150277882159746_816151_nWhat is Next

Taking a leave of absence from  my well-paying job to stay home will take sacrifice, there is no denying that. At least for now. But we have plans to be a husband-wife team. I will not be trading grading papers and lecturing seniors on the rhetorical triangle for lying around all day cuddling with my 2-year-old and watching day-time television or making Pinterest boards on animal shaped sandwiches. While cuddles will certainly be apart of my day, it will also be helping my husband out with his business, finishing my other children’s books, growing my blog,  and growing our marriage ministry so that we can make it a virtual marriage support movement–something that could lead to courses and books and private coaching or accountability.  Owen and I have learned so much through just our short seven-and-a-half years together. And we know that in the trials that have hit our marriage, what the darkness intended to destroy, God is using for good.

15895156_10210707506737750_2280544613316238102_nSo we will need to work at it. And it may be tight for awhile.  And there may very well be some conflict. But yes, I will also be able to take my kids to school. I will be able to teach my daughter how to read and put her down for her naps and enjoy her company at lunch. I don’t have to hear my son Jameson pray at the dinner table that his Mommy could get her work done faster so she could play with him. I will be able to pick up my boys from school and do homework with them in the afternoons. I will be able to enjoy them in the evening without a distracting pile of papers to grade.

And just as importantly, I will be able to watch them walk across the stage at high school or college graduation, without regretting losing those precious moments with them in those short years God lent them to us because I wanted fancy face washes, Arbonne shakes, and shiny cars, or a remodeled bathroom. I don’t want those material things at the expense of my children saying they remembered me as the stressed out mom who rushed them through everything– never really present.

14918948_10155407468274746_8711807688632773943_oPersonal Faith and Purpose

So that’s my story. That’s my reason. I don’t write this to guilt-trip any working moms. We are all different and I’m sure there are many working moms who can do both well. But I’m just not one of them. I can do one really well and the other just mediocre. And I’m tired of putting my kids second. And I can’t really get away with doing the other mediocre in the age of test scores and professional development accountability. This is God’s call on my life.

Until then, when my husband says lets step out in faith and see what God can do with the passions and talents he has given us, I say heck yes. I already feel a change happening within me just knowing it’s 5 weeks away. It makes me want to hold on to my husband, my kids, and Jesus all the more tightly because I have to let go of my idol of a stable income.

14956009_10155407464944746_2339658837828538358_nBut I think that is a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a blind faith. We’ve crunched the numbers. We’ve looked into health insurance. We’ve looked at our mortgage budget. It will be tight at first. But it can be done and it can and can loosen up later. The difference is that when you work solely on bringing income from your own business, the income varies month to month. It doesn’t feel as “safe” as a contracted salary position. So there is a reliance on the Lord that doesn’t happen when relying on that steady paycheck with the exact same number every month. But what it also means, is that there is no cap on our income. We get what we put into it too. If I help my husband with his business Videospot, his business can grow faster. If he helps me with the Thriving, Sexy Marriage business (he is an expert in selling with video, by the way) then I can eventually bring in some supplemental income through that business project to keep me home with my babies.

And I don’t doubt for a second that God will certainly show off for me since I’ve given him room to do so. A good friend of mine, Jamie once asked me–how can we see God’s power in our lives if we don’t give him a chance to show off for us because we play it safe? In the end, I think it is rooted in distrust of God. And that is unwarranted.

And if I’m wrong–perhaps yes, we’ve seen all the wrong signs or God wants this to be just temporary and hasn’t revealed that to us as of yet, my leave of absence allows me to return to my secure job as a teacher in a year or two. Within two years though, we hope to have a clearer picture of the road ahead. We won’t know until we take that turn down that road

I don’t know the future, but I know I’ve got a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I’m tired of walking down a different path than my family. There are here in Vista and my husband has this vision for our future that I want to be a part of, but I’m on this side-road heading off in a different direction, constantly shouting over the valley between us, saying, “You can do it honey!” I want to be with him. I want to say “we can do it.” And when two people share a common vision and work together to achieve it, I don’t see how that could not lead to many good and plentiful blessings.

Those two paths have finally joined because of my husband’s faith and vision. It is a faith of God’s child. And I will not say no because Lord, we are ready to walk down it, wherever it leads. united toward a one vision