As you may know, the past few months have been a struggle for me.
Personally, I have been dealing with my yearly seasonal blues demons and just barely keeping them at bay. It is getting better though and I have my fabulous little family and some really great friends (new and old) to thank for that. And a healthy dose of Vitamin D every day seems to be helping too!
Professionally, it has been a struggle as well. Working as a solo entrepreneur is hard work. Actually, it is VERY hard work. And doing so while also being the stay-at-home parent to two preschool-aged children makes it even harder. Somehow they NEED me more now then they ever have before (more on this later) and finding the time to focus on ALL of my babies is getting harder and harder.
Please understand that I love what I do.
I love being able to introduce parents to the incredible world of babywearing. I love helping anyone who asks about breastfeeding, natural birth, and the many aspects of 'green' parenting that I have garnered some knowledge of over the years. It makes my heart happy when I see the look of sheer relief and the physical relaxation of a mama's shoulders when she puts her baby in a proper, safe and beautiful baby carrier. And I seriously almost want to do a happy dance of joy when said baby is asleep in under 5 minutes of being in a new carrier.
I also love being able to find great products from both local and not-so-local mama-made and baby-inspired small businesses. It has always been part of my mission at Natural Urban Mamas to support local Canadian manufacturers and mainly mama-owned or family run smaller companies in North America and Europe. I have stayed true to this throughout the life of my business and I am so honoured to now call quite a few of these manufacturers and mamas some of my dearest friends.
I love the community of mamas that I have on the Natural Urban Mamas Facebook and Twitter pages. All 3800+ of you!! This is simply amazing to me! I appreciate your comments, feedback, funny posts, beautiful pictures and all the questions that you feel comfortable asking me. I love sharing wonderful and informative posts with you and introducing you to some of my favourite blogger friends, cool sites and general internet happy places! I also love how you all share so freely with me and with each other when questions are asked. This to me is a true community. We may not always see things the same way, but sharing ideas and learning from each other makes us all better! Thank YOU!
So why the struggle?
Running a retail company on your own (and on the internet) is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week kind of job. You are the CEO, COO, CFO, Marketing department, Sales force, Purchaser, Accounting/Book-keeping department, Shipper/Receiver, often the IT department and the SEO/Social Media/Communications department as well. There is always something that needs doing to keep the business running smoothly and often this involves an investment of time or money. It is exhausting and to be completely honest, most of the time I am running low of both time AND money!
Here's the thing. When my business partner and I went our separate ways in late 2009, for the sake of simplicity and to avoid the addition of more legal fees (and to keep things from getting ugly), I had to pay her out. I don't really want to get into all the ridiculous details of this transaction (because I will just get angry again), but essentially Natural Urban Mamas has not yet been able to climb out of the hole that this 'pay-out' created. And I don't see it doing so anytime soon. You know that old saying, "you need to spend money to make money", well, at this point, there is just not enough money to spend!
So at this point I am NOT loving the day-to-day running of Natural Urban Mamas, the business. And not just because of the financial factor. It is the time factor too.
Like I mentioned above, my children need me more now than they have before. Little C will be 5 years old in two weeks and he is more inquisitive than ever. He has questions that need well thought out answers! LOTS of questions. Princess L is in the weird and wonderful transition phase from toddler to preschooler and is figuring out that she is not a baby anymore. There is a lot of independence and then very strong attachment going on at our house these days. I need to be there for my littles. It is not just my physical presence that they need, it is more of my mental and emotional presence too and I don't want to deny them any of this. Unfortunately, because I squeeze in work hours when and where I can throughout the day, I feel like I am doing just that.
And it is not just the kids, my husband needs me too.
We both knew that this year was going to be a tough one for us. Financing and building a new house can be rough on any relationship. And although yes, this is our third time doing it, I fully admit that it seems way harder this time around. I think we are both feeling a lot of pressure to really GET IT RIGHT with this house and have a lot of our heart and soul and hopes and dreams wrapped up in this little construction project. And a lot of the decisions about the house come down to me. I am the one visiting the site almost every day to ensure that our dream is taking shape as we planned. I am the one talking to the trades people (I am there so often, that the guys have all started calling me Nat, it's my site nickname). I am the one trying to keep us all on budget. So you see, I have yet another job to add to the list -- unofficial Construction Site Supervisor!
You can imagine that with all of this going on - the store, the kids, and the house - Natural Urban Dad and I don't get a whole heck of a lot of alone time together. And we NEED it! All marriages need this. For us we especially need our time together because of all that is going on! Even if it is just an hour a week at Starbucks or a walk through the mall holding hands, we need that time to reconnect and know that WE matter as a team, a couple and yes, as lovers too! (oh, he is so going to love that!) We are the foundation that all else is built on and we have to keep that foundation strong.
Over the past few weeks, it has become glaringly apparent to me that certain things in my life need to change. I need to change. I am no longer completely happy with the path I am on and I need to find a new way, a better way to keep living my purpose and my passion without losing my mind! This week I sought the advice of a fellow entrepreneur I recently met IRL and for whom I have always had mad respect for... and then she posted THIS! I swear to God, it was like she jumped into my head and then wrote her post. And I can't thank her enough. (Big Super Hugs for Alex from @Clippo!!)
And so here is what is going to happen now. I am taking a page from Alex's book.
Natural Urban Mamas, the store, will be closed from December 12, 2011 until January 31, 2012.
During this time I will be figuring out what is best for me and my family and also for Natural Urban Mamas. I will continue to write on the blog (I have a couple of carrier reviews coming up and some step-by-step carrier instructional posts too) and also keep the Facebook page current. I will be available for babywearing or baby carrier advice via Facebook or Twitter, but will not be running any babywearing workshops during December or January.
I appreciate your patience and understanding and your continued support while I work through this challenge and transition in my life and my business.