Tammy Hart, I.D.D.P, CAPS is a graduate and tutor of Q.C. Design School as well as a Certified Aging in Place Specialist from the National Association of Home Builders. She is the Senior Designer for the Designer Chick Co. and is the previous director of the National Board for DDA (formerly CDECA). She is a professional speaker, speaking at venues like IIDEXCanada and Heart of Networking. She’s been featured as a guest spot on Daytime Durham, Rogers TV and works to empower young women to become successful future leaders.
This month, I was given free reign to write about whatever my heart desired. I spent the last week of August on the road. I was scoping out fantastic architecture, luxurious decor, and textiles you dream of purchasing for your clients, and then, reality hit when I returned home. My kids were going back to school. Yay!
But now I have the chaos of morning madness: rushing around the house, crying tears over hair brushing, forgotten homework, football practices, dance practices, gymnastics practices… and lunches (I despise making lunches). Did I mention I have one child out of school at 2:40 pm and the other out at 3:10 pm? And I still need to work.
All that being said, I decided to write about managing a study schedule with QC Design School, starting your own interior decorating business, and managing your kids—A.K.A being Wonder Woman or Superman.
Trust me, I still haven’t figured out the secret recipe to managing all this. And as everyone’s family varies, my first piece of advice is to figure out what works for you and your family. As my family ages (my hubby and I plus our kids, 6 and 15 years old), I always find myself revising the structure to making it all work.
50/50 Doesn’t Exist
I remember driving (speeding) in my car on my way to a job, listening to the radio and hearing Marilyn Dennis say, “A perfect split of work-life balance doesn’t exist.” I thought about it for the rest of the day because, at that point in my life, I was struggling to find that perfect 50/50 work-life balance. Realizing I was striving for something that doesn’t exist killed me.
That moment, hearing those words, changed my life. And with reflection, I realized what Ms. Dennis was saying. Work/life balance is what you make of it. Some days work takes up more of your time; on others, life does. Finding the balance that works for your family is imperative to your sanity and your family’s functioning.
Every Sunday my husband and I go through our calendars to make sure we’re all on the same page. Then, we send each other updates as the week progresses and our schedules change. In our industry, we often have meetings in the evenings when our clients are available.
To be honest, my husband also works in an industry that requires him to meet with clients in the evenings as well. So careful planning to ensure we have childcare duties worked out and our business’ needs are met is a necessity to our success.
Additionally, we have dentist and doctor’s appointments for kids during the weekday that have to be managed. And we can’t forget about those dreadful PD (Professional Development) Days for the kids. Essentially, it boils down to being very organized and knowing about when things happen and who’s involved.
Business & Study Hours
When studying or your design business, it’s important to create a study schedule or an Hours of Operation schedule and stick to it. I found when I first started studying that I couldn’t just do it ad hoc. Life would get in the way or I’d procrastinate. The moment I created school hours, I communicated them to my husband and my kids (who I wanted to lead by example), and I stuck with them.
When it came to my business, I am in my studio at 9 am. I leave to get my youngest before pick up time and then go directly home to the studio, finishing up my workday at 5 pm. I take calls until 7 pm and then shut the phone down for the evening. I will work on Saturdays by appointment only. Otherwise, my phone is off on Saturdays and Sundays. This is how I manage my life balance with my family.
Prep, Prep, Prep
My final piece of advice to help make life easier is to do as much preparation possible to avoid chaos. But as I’m saying this, I’m laughing. I struggle to do this with my personal life, but I am very successful in doing this with my business life.
I wish I was one of “those” moms (and I say “those” with true love and admiration) who are able to prepare lunches successfully the night before. I always think they’ll go gross overnight in the fridge, and I have extremely picky eaters. But I’ve heard that doing this will make life much easier. I tried it one day, and it was much easier in the morning.
Work wise, I prep my week every Sunday and review all my meetings. I also have dedicated studio times and on-the-road times to make the most of my time. I had one boss tell me, “Out of 5 days of work, allow for truly working 3 days out of the week.” Essentially, he was saying that stuff is going to come up throughout the week that’s going to throw your schedule off. Although I believe with careful prep work, I can achieve closer to 5 than 3 a week.
Hopefully these pieces of advice help with getting you closer to your QC Design School Graduation Day; help you start and manage your decor business; and make your personal life a little less chaotic. If you have any good advice on managing kids and school and work, feel free to share! I’m open to ideas.