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


KJ said...

Thank you for the tips and the laughs. Good post.

Catherine Ivins said...

thanks Kathy xo