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!
Tsh Oxenreider is the founder and editor of Simple Mom and the Simple Living Media network and the author of Organized Simplicity. Tsh, her husband Kyle and their three kids — Tate (6), Reed (3) and Finn (10.5 months) — currently live in Austin, Texas. They’ve lived and worked as expats, and this summer they hope to move to Bend, Oregon, where they’ll be working with a nonprofit that runs guest houses for other expats that work in difficult locations to help them find rest so they can continue their challenging work.
Read what Tsh has to say about balancing life as a mother while running a blog network and writing:
You’re passionate about inspiring families to live simply and with intentionality through your writing…when and how did you discover that passion?
I didn’t know I was so passionate about living simply and intentionally until I was forced to do so myself when we moved overseas as a family in early 2007. I experienced such a freedom from the bondage of “stuff” that I was excited to tell others about it — not in an I-have-my-act-together way, but in a way that shares what I’m learning right in the trenches of dealing with regular-life stuff, like raising little kids and running a home.
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?
I very much feel like an accidental entrepreneur — I didn’t know it was in my blood until I slowly started making money from my writing, mostly via advertising on my blog. So I never felt like I needed give up my “career” for family, because my family was/is my career! And because so much of what I write about and what I do is related to my family, my business is a natural extension of my career as a parent and home manager.
It’s been fun to watch my career as a writer and blog network manager organically inch its way onto my plate. It’s now just one more thing I do, alongside tying shoelaces and making sure the pasta doesn’t overboil. I came to peace with this because my work blesses our family, quite directly (money) but also indirectly (satisfying a passion for writing in me and making me a better mom).
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?
Kyle and I don’t see Simple Living Media as my business — it’s our family business. It would collapse if it were just me. Our other job (helping run guest houses) is done from home as well, so we’re able to be very flexible with our time.
When I have major writing projects on the horizon, Kyle lifts a heavier share of child watch. When he’s busy or traveling, I do the heavy lifting at home. We ebb and flow all the time, more or less weekly (we meet on Sunday evenings to discuss our upcoming week). He’s made serious sacrifices of time, but he also loves what he does just as much as me. He handles the majority of the behind-the-scenes logistics with SLM, such as filtering email, troubleshooting some code, paying people, accounting, and myriad other little jobs.
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?
Just did this last week, in fact. It’s helpful for me to take a step back and evaluate where I’m spending my time on, and if anything needs to be done differently. Every job has stuff you don’t love, for sure, but recently I’ve realized that I’ve been spending tons of time putting out little fires all day long (such as answering emails), to the detriment of more important tasks on my plate (such as writing the outline to my next book).
Ironically, I find much more satisfaction focusing on the more important stuff (the book outline), but I still find myself answering to the urgent first (the emails). I know something needs to change when I feel chained to the urgent. Right now, there’s 132 unread emails in my inbox, and they’re piling up daily. I need to make a change, but it’s hard to know what. I’ll either need to have my assistant Jenny read more emails, be less accessible (which I really don’t want to do), or add more hours to my workday, which honestly doesn’t seem possible. So it’s probably Jenny to the rescue in this scenario.
So to answer your question… I know I need to evaluate and make changes when I’m answering to the urgent more than the important, and also when I’m spending too much time on doing things I don’t like as much to the detriment of putting off what I love.
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?
Be very specific about what it is you love to do, and try to organize things so that you can spend as much time as possible doing that thing you love. For example, if you love making jewelry, that’s quite different than running an online handmade jewelry store. Be prepared to do a lot more behind-the-scenes stuff, or to delegate. If you love writing, and so hope to make money writing on a blog, know ahead of time that it’s a lot more than just writing. You’ve got to wear multiple hats — the writer, the editor, the marketer and publicist, the graphic designer etc. — unless you can outsource these things.
All in all, do what you would do for free if you had to, but are blessed because you can make money from it.
What are your non-negotiables or things that you’re not willing to sacrifice for your business or career?
My children’s upbringing according to the values we hold firm (such as what’s in our family purpose statement). We are not willing to let someone else raise our children, so if that means not being able to build SLM as large as possible because I can’t spend 60 hours weekly on it, that’s fine by me.
We also place a firm value on spending most of our daily life together as a family, so I’m not willing to work outside the house.
I’m not willing to go into debt, so we will never expand beyond what our cash flow allows. And we place a high value on being able to move anywhere God calls us to, so we aren’t willing to have so much “stuff” that we feel chained to it. This is true in our business, too — I want to be able to run all our ventures with SLM from anywhere in the world. There are limits to that, but thankfully with the blessing of the Internet, the world is pretty darn big.