10 Ways for Makers to Balance Work and Family During the Holidays

The holidays can be a very stressful time for makers. We have to make the money while the money is there to be made kaching!

(see my post from last year's Team Eco Etsy blog on 16 Ways to Sell More on Etsy this Holiday Season)
and we want need to have an actual holiday with our families.  

The memories, like the money, don't get a do-over in January.

Before I was a maker I had a mall cart business and before that I was a bank manager.

When I was a bank manager the winter holidays were easy-peasy. We had three holidays in November and I always used a personal day or two in December for a long shopping weekend. Clients weren't so focused on their money and upper management took a lot of time off, making my job much easier.

I was still busy but had time to do all the family and school holiday stuff. Cookies were baked, stockings were hung, presents were wrapped, carols were sung

(yes, I'm channeling Seuss this morning).

When I started my mall cart business my holidays did a complete 180. I would open every year on Halloween, work every day until Thanksgiving (which I would COOK - what was wrong with me?!), re-open on Black Friday at the crack of dawn and come up for air at 3pm on Christmas Eve.

We'd put our tree up that night and the gifts I gave my family were purchased during slow times within 50 feet of my mall cart.

My daughter was a teenager then and I'm still convinced, although I have never been able to convince her, this was not a totally terrible way to do the holidays. Some years she was lucky and I was near Pac Sun and Claire's. Other years she would spend Christmas morning moaning over Yankee Candles and Mrs Fields Cookies. She still grumbles about it - I think it was character building.

Selling online is kind of the middle ground. We go totally nuts, if we're lucky and prepared, and then things slow down when it becomes too late to ship and we get a few days of holiday time with our families. Hanukkah falls into that last week this year, too, so if we celebrate that one, we just need to close a couple days earlier.

Here are some tips I think will make the next few weeks easier:

1. Let's get our own holiday shopping done NOW. Our days of casually strolling the mall and local shops during December ended when we decided to open a business and sell the things we make. Also it goes without saying if we want people to buy our handmade whoseewhatsee we should be supporting other makers by buying theirs. If we want people to be shopping local we should be shopping local. If we want people to be shopping online we should be shopping online.

2. Focus on what works. If our Etsy shop is outselling our website this isn't the time to re-vamp our website. Focus on our Etsy shop. If we sell better at craft shows, put our focus there. If our best selling product is our floral lime green belt focus on selling that in other places or other sizes or other colors. Don't waste time thinking about how to sell that thing that never sells. Our time is limited - do what works.

3. Say No. We can't do everything. "No" is hugely empowering and yes, we may have to live with the stomach upset afterwards. That's what ginger is for. Really, it works, buy some this week.

4a. Stick to a strict schedule. Let's determine the dates for our last supply orders, last discount sale, last shipping, etc - now. These kind of things need to be pretty much written in stone. We know how long it takes to make our whoseewhatsee, set a work schedule that works. I have a giant calender and like to write things down. Technology tools are available. As soon as we have the dates for the kid's play and concerts and any holiday parties we want to attend, add them in.

4b. Don't stick to a strict schedule. There are no absolutes. The days of someone telling us how to do all this ended with our final paycheck. If our schedule can't be a little flexible there is no point in being self employed. It's usually the only perk.

5. Eliminate distractions. We don't have time to be checking Facebook or Instagram or answering emails all day long (I  do this stuff while my tea heats and my kettle whistle puts a stop to it). A TV on in the background makes me nuts and I doubt makes anyone more productive. I could be wrong though. I get a few Audible books to listen to while I work, although on really crazy days I need silence. And yes, I can hear my racing heart as the clock ticks toward 5pm when my post office closes.

6. Get help. Delegate. It's all hands on deck time. It's not really illegal to use child labor if they are related to you and paid in gingerbread cookies. Any time saved on one activity adds time for another activity. You can't just triple the amount of things you normally do and expect to function. Hire or beg for help.

7. Let stuff go. The housekeeping police will not be at our house checking for dust bunnies this holiday season. Something has to give.

8. Respect other people's holidays, too. Let's not have some poor woman in Peoria overnighting us supplies on December 15th we should have ordered in November. Expect that the mail will be slow. We don't want to freak out at the post office and create a scene that will be the talk of the town for years to come, trust me on this one ....

9. Everything that can wait until after the holidays waits until after the holidays starting today.

10. Family comes first. They have to because we have to live with them plus of course we love them and all that jazz. Prioritize accordingly. We really don't have to be shipping until the very last minute. December isn't the end of the money train. Next year and new opportunities will be here soon enough. xo all

New Moon in Sagittarius, November 22nd - FRESH START & LEAP OF FAITH

my sagittarius aromatherapy locket
On Saturday, the Sun moves into firey, fun loving Sagittarius and the Moon follows a few hours later. This gives us another zero degree New Moon.

(if the New Moon was 5 days after the Sun, we would have a 5 degree New Moon, etc)

Once again we won't have the preparation we usually get with the Sun clearing the way ahead of the Moon and easing us into new territory - it will just be BAM 

welcome to the the bright, new world of Sagittarius!

This will feel much better than last month's headfirst dive into the murky waters of Scorpio. This one will feel like we are pulled out of the deep ocean and tossed onto the sand and into the LIGHT!

(there could still be alligators patrolling the shores though, so don't lose a leg coming aground eyes closed and blinded by the sun - take a little time to get your bearings but don't take too long)

Sagittarius is a fun-loving sign that rules travel, freedom, adventure, legal stuff, higher education, good luck, faith, religion, prayer, optimism, problem solving, truth seekers, boldly going where no man has gone before, the quest  -

it also rules carelessness, taking shortcuts, thinking we are right, making assumptions, throwing pink paint on problems and hoping they will go away, overconfidence, impatience and superficial fluff.

Sagittarius is a mutable sign. The mutable signs prepare us for the change into the next season.

Mutable signs are service signs and Sagittarius is in service through the exploration of Truth - this could be legal truth or political truth but its most especially spiritual truth - its highest purpose is enlightenment and expanding what is known. The lower level energies rule religious wars, legal battles and political bullshit.

Sagittarius is a fire sign like Aries and Leo.

Fire signs like action - their reasons for taking action are different though. Aries energy wants to climb the mountain, first because it's there and second because there is a competition going to see who can get there first.

Leo energy wants to climb the mountain because they have heard there is a film crew waiting at the summit and they have a new GoPro themselves and will be broadcasting daily to their fans through Facebook.

Sagittarius energy wants to climb the mountain to see what the hell it feels like to climb a mountain and how it feels to reach the top. They want the adventure; they want the quest.

(they could be unprepared and throw their back out 100 yards from the summit, too, then they will turn their convalescence into a party for the sherpas and make THAT the adventure)

This is the energy we are all stepping into now. What part of your life can use a little adventure? That's the space to use this energy most effectively.

For makers during the holiday season there are a couple things to think about:

First, fire signs are great initiator energy (see my post here about using astrology to determine the best dates to launch). So, if you have something new to get out there - the two weeks after this New Moon - don't use the zero degree Saturday - are prime time for a universal kick start! Most especially when focused on Sagittarian ideals.

Second, this is great energy to over commit and take on too much. Then we will under-deliver and disappoint. Better to under promise, over deliver and come out on top. Set up your deadlines right after this New Moon and give yourself some cushioning. Keep plans do-able for now. It is easy to get carried away when we come into this much light this quickly.

The real gift of Sagittarius is the freedom to be who we really are - how are we going to use this gift?

As always, write your New Moon affirmations down - I sometimes use strips on paper and bowls of rice, so I could jiggle them around now and then - but again this month I am feeling the urge to burn them and just know they are done. You don't have to make stuff happen with this, you just have to see what comes up and then take the action that feels right on that.

Trust the process. We have cast our spell.

People always say that affirmations "only work if you take action". And this is true, but not in the way most people think because the affirmation is action.

It sets the energy in motion. Words are not just words. If done properly, in the right frame of mind, it lines us up energetically with the thing we are seeking. The new moon is a time of darkness but there is lots of hidden action in the dark.

(yes, even that kind, all creation starts in the dark after all)

Look at what kind of experiences have been coming your way lately. How have you called them into your life?

There is often a wave of resistance that arrives when we begin stepping into our power. This resistance can manifest as physical health problems, relationships that mirror our shadows, self-sabotaging "mistakes" or when it seems like “fate” intervenes and creates road blocks or sends us  back to “feeling and playing small” - back to square one.

This "upper limit" thing, set by familial programming and energy patterns (although I believe we came on to this planet vibrating at exactly the frequency that drew us to our family) that is so common when we are in the process of shifting our self-definitions and expanding our influence and responsibility. Something gets in the way, often something that appears to be outside our control - this is all illusion of course, but how do we work through this? How do we move outside our energy patterns?

A thing we can do right now and it sounds like a small thing but there are no small things - is to set a few affirmations within the energy of this New Moon - it will just take you a few minutes of concentrated effort. Do it SATURDAY MORNING or afternoon if possible. xo all