Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Glass is Half....

I have a confession to make.

I have a tendency to be a glass-is-half-empty kind of gal. It’s true. I can imagine the worst in any situation. I’ve tried to change it, but I think it may be in my programming. Nonetheless, I’m trying hard to model a more optimistic approach to my children (particularly my pessimistic kid). I’m going to try and believe that I’m fooling them with my sunny ways.

This would all be well and good, except that I’m also an entrepreneur. Now that’s a bad combination! Self-employment can be….how shall I put this delicately… a slog. At least that’s how one mompreneur described it when I caught her on a bad day a while back. As in, “I just never imagined it would be such a slog.” For all of the incredible rewards of going it alone, we all have days when things don’t go as planned. We all try things that fail, or experience the typical frustrations of any job. So add to the sometimes sloggishness of it all a measure of pessimism and things can be tough! If we have a slow day I worry about our business – or heaven forbid a slow week or two – I’ll be utterly convinced that we’re washed up. Amy and I even have a joke about it – when things look bleak we just shake our heads and say, ‘Washed up!’ – then we laugh. (If you know our business you’ll know that we are certainly not washed up! Heck – there’s an endless supply of new customers – there’s one born every minute!)

I however, have a secret weapon. I jumped into mompreneurial waters with an optimist! How smart was that? When I think we’re done for, Amy sees it differently. She frames situations differently and helps me to see the temporary nature of whatever predicament I’m fretting about. And of course she’s right. Things are never that bad, and we’ve survived every challenge we’ve faced. Truth be told – I’d have never made it 8 years (and counting) without her filling up my empty glass.

There are lots of things you should look for in a business partner. Ideally you’ll find someone who complements your skill set and personality traits. But if you’re thinking about making the leap into entrepreneurship and tend toward the pessimistic, make sure you grab an optimist to jump with you.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Parenting the Hippie Child

My middle daughter is a hippie. This is all fine and well, but for the fact that it is very different from the person that I am.

I’m concrete, she’s abstract. I’m literal, she’s visual. I move quickly, she moves at the speed of snail.

All this is compounded by the fact that my first-born daughter is so much like me. I totally “get” her. If she’s upset, I understand why. If I ask her to do something, she quickly and efficiently complies. But with Daughter #2, the things that set her off are often a mystery to me. What’s important to her – and what she couldn’t care less about – frequently surprises me. (She has no interest in broadening her social circle, but is loyal to a small group of friends. And when faced with any form of competition, she backs right off.) So, I feel like it is my middle child who is really teaching me about being a parent.

It is my four-year-old who is teaching me to see things in a new light. When I lament the pouring rain, this is the kid who looks at me and says, “But Mom, the rain is what makes the flowers grow.”

One day last spring when we were walking to school I found myself a few paces ahead of my middle daughter. As per usual, I (strongly) urged her to hurry up. But when I turned around I saw her crouched down, her dress pooled at her feet, sunlight catching her blond hair, literally stopping to smell the flowers. No amount of rushing was worth having her – or me – miss that moment.

As spring approaches, my little hippie continues to teach me: There is more than one way to approach a situation, you don’t always have to travel in a straight line to get where you’re going, and there is no reason not to wear sundresses year-round.

Maybe it’s time I stopped to smell the flowers too.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Win a Free Blanket on Facebook

Admiral Road has the best fans in the world. Because they're so great, we'd like to give one lucky fan a free blanket.

All you need to do is go to our Facebook Fan Page and comment on this post. Tell us what your favourite Admiral Road baby blanket style is and why you love it.

You can find all of our styles on our website at

We'll randomly pick a winner this week from one of the commenters.

Good luck!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

And the winner is...

As I start to hit my stride as a parent, I find myself pondering balance: When do you let your kids ‘win’ in certain situations and when do you step in and curb inappropriate behaviours?

If you’ve ever been in line for a bouncy castle you know what I mean. For reasons unknown, it seems that all human decency goes out the window when the bouncy castle appears. Kids jump the line, push others out of the way, and overstay their turn in the castle. What amazes me are the parents who say and do nothing. If you’re one of those parents, apparently you have no trouble letting your kid “win.” And I actually envy you a little. (Although I worry that karma may be coming for you in the teenage years.)

My friend Jill introduced me to the concept of letting your kids “win” when our children were toddlers. We were at a local parenting centre and my two-year-old daughter had patiently been waiting her turn for one of those plastic cars (the ones you get in and drive around with your feet, Fred Flintstone style). When the driver exited the vehicle, a bigger kid came out of nowhere and jumped into the car before my daughter could get in.

Not to be deterred, my daughter ran after the car and literally hauled this twice-her-size boy out of it before getting in and driving off. I stood on the sidelines about to jump in and tell her she couldn’t physically remove this other kid when Jill, who had seen everything, said, “Sometimes you have to let your kid win.” She was right, of course, and my little girl drove that car to her heart’s content that day.

You see, when it comes to a social situation, I’m usually more comfortable letting the other person “win.” I’m apt to let people in line, deflect a compliment, ask my kids to let their friends play with the toy in question – you get the picture. It’s the way I’ve been conditioned – I’m female, innately friendly, and Canadian. I’m no doormat, you understand, but like many of us women, I will defer to keep the peace.

I’ve also been known to excessively apologize for my kids. As they get older, I’m trying not to – but it’s hard to resist the urge. Last week my son kicked his best friend while they were engaged in a play wrestling match. As the other mother tended to her son’s injury, I found myself wanting to apologize for my son’s actions. My inner dialogue went something like this:

Me: Say sorry. The kid’s eye is swollen shut.

Other side of me: Screw that. This was a consensual wrestling match. All’s fair in playdate wrestling.

In the end, I apologized (and of course my son did too). Fortunately, the boy’s mother was extremely gracious. I did note, however, that I hadn’t managed to let it go and leave it between the kids.

I know we’re supposed to let kids work out their own issues – to let them win and lose. But I also know that I’m here to teach my kids how to get along with others – how to be in the world. And, I’m trying to get along in the playground too. With all of these are competing demands I find that I’m still searching for the balance myself. What about you?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Is Mom Entrepreneurship for You?

Since we started our personalized blanket company, Admiral Road Designs, we have been approached for advice by many moms wanting to start their own businesses. It’s no wonder – women entrepreneurs are one of the fastest growing segments of the Canadian economy. In fact, four out of five businesses are started by women these days.

Mom entrepreneurship, by definition, means you will juggle the (often competing) demands of career and motherhood. As such, the path of the mom entrepreneur is not a straightforward one. Just like with any other major undertaking, there is so much to think about before taking the plunge, both about what you want and can expect from your business, but also how you see your business meshing with the rest of your life. Before even thinking about what kind of entrepreneurial venture you’re going to take on, you need to first determine if you’re set up to launch.

A few examples of the kinds of questions you’ll need to ask yourself are:

Can I live without a paycheque?
You might need to forgo an income for a long time while you’re getting yourself established.

Do I have a good support system in place?
A husband, family members, friends and mentors are all-important because you’ll need help with your business, childcare or both.

What’s the family plan?
If you’re thinking about having more children, try to imagine how this will affect your business. Do you have help at home? Is your partner in a secure job?

What’s my tolerance for risk?
Think about how much money you’ll need to start up, and how you’d feel if you lost that money.

Am I suited to work on my own?
Imagine how you’ll feel without the camaraderie of water cooler banter and the socializing that goes along with working in an office.

These are just a few of the issues that you’ll need to consider off the bat. But what about your personality? Are you the ‘entrepreneurial type’? If you’re game, try this quiz. (Granted, it’s not tailored to the specifics of “mom” entrepreneurship, but it will give you some food for thought.) But don’t despair if you don’t have a stellar quiz score. You wouldn’t ditch your guy over a Cosmo quiz – and you shouldn’t give up your entrepreneurial dreams for a quiz either.

But here’s the good news: Choosing mom entrepreneurship does NOT mean that you need to have prior business experience. We know piles of moms who have achieved enormous success simply by working hard and learning as they went along. You don’t even have to have a great business idea yet. You just need to make sure that you’re in a position to take on something as consuming as starting a business.

In the months to come, we look forward to sharing with you tips and strategies to get your mom entrepreneur business off the ground as well as some tales from the trenches – the good, the bad and the sticky.

Further reading:

The Business Development Bank of Canada offers this self-assessment tool along with lots of other resources for the budding entrepreneur.

This Wall Street Journal article raises additional questions to ask yourself to see if you’re up for the challenge of entrepreneurship.