Hi, Milliners that work from home - especially those with small childeren still at home, how do you balance your working week? Do you put aside particular hours in the day for sewing, are there particular days that you have off to spend time with the kids and catch up on housework, do you try to produce "X" amount of hats per week, do you have certain times you will answer emails and do research?

I struggle with the day to day running of a household, I have two small childeren, Lilly is 2.5 years and Jack is 6mths. When I am not run off my feet I seem to be able to balance it all well. But in the lead up to big race meets I find myself sewing at all hours of the night, mostly because I cant seem to get much done during the day, and on those days that I am sewing I feel bad for putting Lilly in front of the TV and or not getting them outside for a play. I figure that sewing at unusual hours is possibly what some of you do anyway, but I was wondering if anyone has a routine that they stick to?

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No. I have four girls at home, but they're in school. I just sew when the mood takes me! I find I am more motivated if I have a few pieces blocked and flowers made, then it's easy just to put things together!

I have 2 girls who are both in primary school (also a Lily), When they go off to school at 8.30, I do an hour on the computer then head to my studio (at the back of the house)  I don't often re-emerge till 2.30 when my dogs come and remind me they need to go for a walk, which is good as it helps clear my mind.  After that the girls are home and I'm mum till bed time when I catch up on internet / emails etc.  I try not to sew in the evening unless it's summer as the light, even artificial daylight is not great for sewing (for me).  That's pretty much me 5 days a week! 

It must be tricky with smaller kids, I didn't start working fully till mine were at school, that time goes so fast!

Hi Kylie,

 Since I don't have children- just 2 dogs and 4 cats my time is quite different from yours.The pets do keep me very busy but not like children. However, I treat my hat making as a job.I do my morning chores and then off to work (in the dining room) , where I spend most of my day. I rarely take a lunch break as I am so absorbed in my work I just keep going til I've finished at least 2 hats or my back hurts. More chores, food, then into the living room to crochet my cloches til bedtime. I take Fridays off to spend with my husband- going to our favorite coffee shop ,running errands  etc. Saturday and Sunday, lots of cooking, cleaning but usually find a couple of hours each day for sewing or working on new designs. My husband is a cartoonist so when he's home he's also working. He sits in the kitchen, me in the dinning room and we talk back and forth. It also depends on what time of year it is. Weather I have shows to do etc. Then my weekends are filled with selling hats!

Hi Kylie

My cherubs are 8 & almost 7 so it is a bit easier to manage.  I get them to school and come home and walk straight into my office/workroom (I try to treat it as if I was going to work at an office somewhere).     I do a quick catchup on emails/social media etc - deal with anything that needs to dealt with - and then get into it.  

I try to stay away from doing anything in the house etc until it is not 'work time'.  When the kids get home from school it is down tools to deal with them.  I'm not a big TV watcher so after they are in bed - I generally wander back into my workroom.  I use this time to bring 'office' work up to speed and then create if time allows. 

I must admit though that all routine goes out the window in the 2-3 weeks heading into spring carnival.  Every spare moment is in the workroom.    My kids understand that it is a busy time and I make sure they know that as soon as MC is out of the way - they will have my undivided attention.  I try to interest them in what I am making/doing so they understand more.  And I must admit, at this time of the year, my house is like a bomb has hit.  I figure after Tuesday I will be the cleaning goddess.  Oh and the food shopping goddess - ran out of coffee 2 weeks ago........counting down........

I try not to overload with bespoke orders - work out in advance what I can do and just say 'no sorry' after that.  I figure if I get time up my sleeve I can make some more ready-to-wear pieces.  Unlike you - I don't have small children to contend with but I do have a serious illness that takes it toll in times of stress etc.  Maybe lighten your 'bespoke' load a bit until your time frees up a bit more. 

Hope you find that happy balance.

Hi Kylie

I work from home, but my situation is very different from yours - as I'm retired and have no children at home - just two dogs :).  II find my problem is spending far too much time alone.  (I do appreciate this might seem like heaven to you!)

I spend one morning a week volunteering, but other than that, when my husband leaves for work at 7.00am, I can be on my own for 10 hours a day.  This can be not only monotonous, but strangely stressful.  I find I dawdle when I should be in my workroom and it's very easy to procrastinate.   Being on-line is a great reliever and I enjoy conversations with other milliners throughout the day.  I also work listening to 'talking books' and have, from time to time, downloaded Elaine's classes to listen to whilst I stitch.

Like Linda, I have a serious health problem and have days when I can't do much at all - and these can be the worst, as I see the things I need to do growing in front of me!  Can't do much at night, as my eyes are not the best then -- I actually need full sunlight to stitch black on black!!

I have a routine of sorts though - I check emails 3 times a day - morning and afternoon-tea time, and at about 6 (usually with a wine).   On a good day, I work between 9.30am (after doing the usual household stuff), have a short break for lunch and then through till 4.00pm ish.  I do most of my bookwork on Sundays a my husband goes flying on that day usually.  I'm an early riser, so will often have a cup of tea in the early morning and think up new designs/sketch/muse over millinery.   this year, as well, I've been going to college (TAFE) on Tuesday evenings for millinery classes.  This gives my week structure and a chance to talk hats in the 'real world'. 

I find doing bespoke work the most stressful - and for me is about making my work as perfect as possible,  This is hard when you're not sure of what your clients view of 'perfection' is.  I'm starting to get a little group of clients whose expections I understand, and this makes it easier.   

As well, like now, I have occasional evenings when I scan the computer, Pinterest / Hat Academy for inspiration and relaxation and just for fun :)

Kylie, all my babies are grown, with families of their own, but I spent many years working from home with small children, both as a tailor and as a freelance writer along with homeschooling for 11 years.  The two things that I learned from my experience is 1. A schedule and structure are imperative 2. No matter how well you plan your schedule, something will mess it up.  While this may sound contradictory, it really makes more sense than you might think.

The first thing I did every morning was get up, everyone dressed and fed and clean up done.  I had a set time that I wanted to be started.  This meant that any farm animals and children needed to be fed, children occupied with activities, and snacks at the ready.  I did not talk with friends on the phone or make lunch dates etc.  I didn't have a computer to distract me, until I started writing. When I was writing, the computer was used for writing and checking e-mails--no social media or surfing the web.  When I was sewing, I had clients visiting for alterations and original clothing designs.  My children learned early on to behave while Mommy was with a client. I prepared them by making sure they had drinks, snacks and toys/activities to work on. Once the client left, I turned my attention to children for a few moments before going back to work.  I kept scraps of fabric, lace, yarn etc. under my work bench that my children could "design" with.  They brought their toys into my workroom and played at my feet.  In those days, I could multi-task with the best of them.  I helped my children practice spelling words and math tables as I sewed.  I had specific days that I picked up and delivered alterations to a number of clothing stores in town.  This I did with my youngest daughter in tow, during the few years that her older sisters were in public school.  She knew on delivery day, that she could have chicken nuggets from Wendy's.  We brought our lunch home and had a picnic on a blanket in the living room.  I did this to make a long tedious morning end with special time with Mommy.  I worked until time to prepare dinner, and often returned to my machine after dinner.

I also sewed (or wrote) very early in the morning and very late at night, when my schedule did not go as intended or during wedding season.  My husband traveled a great deal with his job, so I did not have him to pass the children to in the evening. The most important thing to remember is to build flex time into your schedule.  There will always be disagreements between children, skinned knees, upset tummies and times when someone just needs to snuggle and rock with Mommy.  Plan for those times, but if you need to plop someone in front of a cartoon for 15 minutes to talk with a client or finish a project, they will still grow up to be productive members of society, just don't leave them there for two hours.

Believe it or not, now that my children are gone and I only work away from home  part-time, I seem to get less accomplished.  Back then, I knew I didn't have a minute to waste.  Today, I say, "Oh well there is always tomorrow to get  the house work done.  Today I make hats!"  I need to put myself back on a more structured schedule and stay off the computer!

Two days a week I try to devote exclusively to hat making.  Three days I work away from home.  Prior to going to work and after coming home, I work on hats and slip in household chores.  I work bookkeeping in where I can. I try to check e-mails three times a day and most times limit social media to the evenings. My husband still travels a great deal for his job, so those weeks that he is out of town, I spend every spare minute on hats. If I watch TV, I work on hand stitching or crochet. Most of my designing is done in my sleep. It is the only chance I get to let my mind wander. I wake up most mornings with new ideas. Someone recently asked my husband how many hours a week I spent making hats.  he replied, "All of them.  She is crazy."  Note: When my children were little I broke my schedule down in hours. Today, I break it down in days. LOL

I have 3 kids, 3 Maddie, 5 Bella, and 7 Arthur.  I teach after school art, I'm Vice President of the PTG, Room Mom, and I'm probably forgetting things.  For the most part I try and work everyday a little bit but my husbands 2 days off are the days I really try to work in the studio (which has been moved back to my kitchen table from the actual basement studio).  I try to keep all hat business until after 12...It usually doesn't happen but I try.  I make a weekly schedule of things that have to be done a.k.a when do i have time to make hats? but most times I just stay up late and make the most of my quiet time. If I'm lucky my mother in law takes them at least once every other week so I can work.  

If I do have to work and my kids really want my attention I give them little things they can "work on" with me.  Even if it's just letting them pick out feathers or play with my scraps of fabric it helps so much more than you would think.  

Please share if you figure out a good routine!


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