I fell in love with Crystal Tracy’s clothing line Sweet Jane Studio right away. First off, it was completely different to anything else I’ve ever seen and I LOVED the retro charm. I am particularly in love with all her dresses (that party dress!) but love the super sweet shapes of her boys t-shirts too. She was even so kind as to send along a couple of t-shirts for my kids which they LOVED. Bastien tends to be (overly) picky about this clothes and he fell in love with his blue bird. It was too sweet.
When she agreed to collaborate on the blog I was thrilled. Read on for why she loves her job, what she doesn’t like about her current setup and what she would change.
What’s your work schedule?
Right now my work schedule is focused around my children’s school schedule. My oldest two kids are in grades 6 and 2 and my youngest daughter is in morning kindergarten so I drop all 3 kids off at school and I’m back home working by 9 a.m. I have 2 hours of work time in the morning before I have to leave again around 11 a.m. to pick up my daughter from kindergarten. When I need to, I try to get some work done in the afternoon but honestly, I find it hard to really to motivate myself and focus on getting work done when she’s home. I leave again at 3:15 to pick up the older two from school, make dinner, help with homework and go to work again from 6 p.m. to about 9 p.m.
How do you handle childcare?
We aren’t using childcare right now. It’s very expensive in Alberta and we decided that we wouldn’t put our kids in daycare right now in order to save money.
What do you like best about your current setup?
I absolutely love working for myself. I have never been happier with what I do for a living. I get to be creative and make stuff that people want to buy AS MY JOB!! How cool is that?! My workspace is set up in our basement and it’s great to be able to go down and work on things here and there when I need to. I can keep my space as messy or clean as I want! I don’t have to answer to anyone! It’s also nice to have the flexibility to be at home with my kids if they are sick or have days off school.
What do you find tricky or difficult about your current setup?
My workday is very broken up because my youngest is only in school for half a day and, truthfully, I find it so frustrating! Before the school year started, I knew it would be tricky to get work done if we didn’t put any of our kids in daycare but I just thought I’d suck it up and do it because we can’t afford to put the kids in daycare. But, in reality, my current schedule is very difficult. I’m easily distracted and not the best at scheduling my work time. The 2 hours in the morning I have to work without family interruption go by very fast and just as I’m getting my momentum going, I have to leave. When I work in the evenings everyone is home and it’s easy for my kids and husband to forget that I’m working. The kids will come down and ask for food or other random, unimportant things their dad could easily deal with. Sometimes I have to say, “I’m working, pretend I’m not actually here. Just like when your dad goes to his office, this is my office and I’m not available right now!” I go back and forth between feeling bad about not being available in the evenings and then feeling justified because my job is important and if I want to succeed I need to get shit done!
How do you handle household chores?
For our day-to-day schedule, he’s on kid duty in the evenings so I can work. We share meal prep and grocery shopping. He’s (mostly) in charge of dishes and I’m (mostly) in charge of laundry. I feel like we have a good balance right now.
Do you ever wonder how other women manage and do you ever talk about it with your friends?
Yes, I actually make a point of meeting with other women who I know are in the same situation as I am. We commiserate about how hard it is to fit it ALL in and still feel like you’re being a good mom/wife/business owner/friend. It feels great to know I’m not alone and after I meet with friends, I feel rejuvenated and more positive about my situation.
What role does your partner play in helping you achieve balance?
My husband is a rock star! He’s so incredibly supportive of my business and encourages me to keep going, even when I feel like my business is failing. We’ve been together for 22 years and he’s seen how miserable I was working at all the jobs I’ve had in the past. He knows how happy I am to be working for myself and pushes me to continue doing it.
Are you good or bad at asking for help and do you think that is a help or hindrance?
I have no problem asking for help. My mom is an amazing grandmother and loves to spend time with her grandkids. She’ll offer to babysit sometimes when she knows I’m overwhelmed or need some one-on-one time with my husband. I also have friends I know I can ask to help if I really need them. I think most people will help if you need it and they are able to. You just have to ask!
Do you find it irritating that balance seems to be a women issue? No one seems to ask men how they manage work-life balance.
YES!!! This subject is something I think about a lot because of my current work/child care situation. And pardon me while I get a little political but… I think a HUGE part of the problem is that childcare is so expensive in most of Canada. The government needs to subsidize day cares so more women can work and not have to use the majority of their paycheques to pay for childcare.
I would LOVE to work full time right now! I want to be a productive working member of Canadian society. But because like most women I know my husband makes more money than me so he’s the one working full-time. And because childcare costs more per month than I earn, it’s not worth it financially for us to put our kids in childcare. And I find it so frustrating!! I hope the Liberal Government truly does value equality between men and women and will subsidize childcare so women who choose to work, can. Phew! That’s my rant.
Are there any areas of your life that you feel suffer and that you would like to work on more?
I’d love to take more time to exercise and keep myself physically healthy. Right now, if things get really busy, my workout time is the first thing I drop and I’d like to change that.
Thank-you Crystal for your responses and for the amazing t-shirts. We love them!
(Header photo credit: Blake Loates Photography)
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