Work At Home Moms: An Interview with Mandi Ehman

To celebrate the launch of my new ebook, How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too I’ll be sharing the stories of women who are living proof that you can pursue your passions while investing fully in your family. Join me all week to hear what these inspirational women have to say about how they make it work!

I’m going to kick off this series by sharing a little bit about what this journey of juggling work and family has looked like in my own life. It’s a little weird to interview yourself, but I wanted my post to follow the same format as the rest in this series, so let’s pretend you’re the one asking me these questions and not focus on the fact that I’m having a conversation with myself, mm’kay?

Long-time Life Your Way readers will probably know all of these fun facts, but for those of you who are new, welcome! I’m the founder and publisher of Life Your Way, and my husband, Sean, and I live in the boonies of wild, wonderful West Virginia with our four daughters (6, 5, 3 and 1 years old). I work full time as a blogger and consultant, and Sean is a stay-at-home dad. Together, we homeschool our girls.

You’re passionate about online publishing, building community and inspiring other people to pursue their dreams…when and how did you discover that passion?

I think I discovered this passion quite accidentally, really. About three years ago, I first realized there was this whole world of professional bloggers. I was a career transcriptionist at the time, and my hope was that I might be able to build a blog to provide some fun money on the side or — maybe — take a little bit of the pressure off of transcribing full time while juggling 3 kids. What I found, though, was that I loved the blogging world.

I’m passionate about sharing information, but not necessarily about writing itself, and I really love the coding, design and management of a blog just as much as creating content.

Have you struggled with juggling your family and the pursuit of your passion? Have you ever wondered if you should give up your career for your family? How did you come to peace with embracing both roles in your life?

In many ways, I didn’t have to deal with these questions to the same extent that other people have because I’ve always worked to make ends meet, so stopping just wasn’t an option. For about a year, I continued transcribing while also trying to build a blogging business, and there were definitely times that I wondered if I should just give up the whole blogging gig since it was just eating up more of my time.

In the end, though, my husband and I decided together that as long as we had a plan in place and were starting to see fruit from all of the hard work, then I should continue because it would ultimately be better for our family.

Does your husband’s support play a role in your success? Has he made sacrifices and compromises along the way to enable you to build your business?

Absolutely. Sean has always been extremely supportive of all of my entrepreneurial ideas, even when it seemed like most of them were crashing and burning. These days he continues to support me both emotionally and as a stay-at-home dad who cares for our girls and home during work hours and also acts as a sounding board, design consultant and more.

Have you ever had to take a step back and reevaluate your schedule and the amount of time you were spending on your business? Can you give an example of changes you’ve had to make to bring things back into balance?

Yes, I am constantly reevaluating. I fight my natural tendency to say yes to each and every opportunity that comes my way, but I’m also pretty good at saying, “Okay, I gave it a go, but this isn’t working and it’s just sucking time away from my family” and stepping back when needed.

Probably the biggest change I’ve made over the last year was hiring two assistants. First I hired my mom to help with administrative stuff about 15 hours a week, and then I hired Andrea from Simple Organized Living as our site editor. Although this meant investing more money back into the business rather than our personal bank accounts, it also freed up a significant amount of time for me to spend with my family, which makes it worth every penny.

What advice would you give to someone who is just embarking on the journey of discovering their passion or starting a home-based business while caring for their home and family?

Well, I have a whole book of advice, LOL, but the biggest takeaway is this: be intentional about the decisions you make. Building a business or pursuing your passion will probably involve sacrifice. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you’re being intentional about the sacrifices you’re willing — and unwilling — to make.

Similarly, most businesses require a lot of time upfront, without a lot of benefit. I think it’s important to be realistic about the fact that it may not seem worth it for a good 6-12 months so that you’re not discouraged into giving up too soon. On the other hand, you have to be willing to evaluate and know when it is time to say, “Okay, this isn’t working. Let’s try something else.”

What are your non-negotiables or things that you’re not willing to sacrifice for your business or career?

I’m not willing to sacrifice my relationship with my husband. Although the business is primarily mine, we’re in this thing together, and if he feels slighted, than something needs to change.

I’m not willing to work outside of our home. Even though I do work a lot of hours, I’m here. I’m here to share their excitement when our caterpillars begin their transformation into chrysalis. I’m here when someone gets a booboo, needs to cuddle or wants to show off a new skill. And all day I’m surrounded by the sounds of their play, which keeps me going because what I do makes this crazy life of all being home together possible!

I’m not willing to give up homeschooling. I love being my girls’ teacher, and although we’ve taken a fairly relaxed approach to school during this last year, it’s important to me that our life be structured in a way that allows us to focus on their education.

I’m not willing to sacrifice my health or my sanity. When I start to lose momentum and motivation, I take a break, whether that’s for an afternoon or several days.

Click here for all of the interviews.

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