This week I have the lovely Skye (great name!) Mother of two boys under 4 and owner of the wonderful Etsy shop Skygardens discussing her Mother Hustle with us.
I 'met' Skye on Instagram a while back, I was admiring her gorgeous air plant terrariums and lo and behold saw on her bio that she was based in Falmouth, the same place as me! I'm still yet to meet Skye in real life, we've had a few near misses when I see from her Instagram stories that she was in the same place as me a mere 30 mins previously! (this makes me sound like a stalker!) Anyway she is super friendly and inspiring - her successful business selling air plants and gorgeous terraniums has become a part time job for her and when I read her answers to the interview I was immediately inspired to get my act together when at home with the kids and trying to work, dont try and wear two hats, it only ends in tears!
Tell us a bit about who you are, where you are and what your family looks at the moment.
My name is Skye Dean, and I live in Falmouth with my partner James and our sons, Jack (4) and Asher (1).
Tell us all about your business/ side hustles/ work life and where we can find you on the interweb?
I run a home-based Etsy shop called The Skygardens which sells air plant terrarium kits and geometric brass himmeli. I tend to do most of my work for this in the evenings, during nap time, or when I can rope in a helpful relative. You can visit my shop at www.theskygardens.co.uk or check out my Instagram page: @theskygardens
As a hobby I also occasionally buy and sell vintage furniture which I love - I can't help adopting beautiful things that need a home, much to my partner's dismay! Lots of it I obviously end up keeping although space can sometimes be an issue.
How do you find the Juggle with work/ family/ life / childcare etc?
Hard! I do feel very protective over my business though and I'm grateful for this, as otherwise it's so easy for things of personal importance to me to get sidelined in amongst the demands of family life. Often James and I will finally find five minutes to have an uninterrupted chat, and we will highlight the areas that got neglected and that next week we'll try to do better on - usually this is time together, dedicated daytime work space for me, and activity time for him. In my weeks I try to condense the running of my business to evenings or days when Jack is at preschool and Asher naps, so that when I am with both children I don't feel so distracted and can give them my full attention. However that's a challenge with an online business as an issue could arise or interesting message could pop up at any time! I've learnt over the last 18 months that most things can wait until the evening or next day if they have to - time with the kids is so important and meltdowns tend to happen when I'm distracted or stressed - funny that!!
What would your ideal balance be, and are you close to achieving it? If not what needs to change?
My ideal balance would be two days of dedicated work time for myself per week - say Tuesday and Friday - knowing my kids are happily being taken good care of elsewhere leaving me the time and mental space to be independent of them, and to give my ventures my undivided, uninterrupted, creative attention. I'm not close to achieving that at the moment - we are in the middle of rather a convoluted house-move, and Asher has recently turned one and I am not quite ready to leave him with a childminder or nursery yet. However, experience has shown me how quickly that can change as they grow, so perhaps it'll all come together quite well when we're settled in our new house - complete with spare bedroom/office room for me! I can't wait.
Why did you decide to work for yourself?
I'd always wanted to have my own venture one day, as I tend to put my heart and soul into work and one day wanted to put that dedication into something that I myself am creative director of. My Etsy shop started almost coincidentally, and I didn't expect at all that it would thrive in the way it does - it's still such a source of amazement and gratitude for me. Having my children definitely spurred me on too - I feel so fortunate, but also determined that I want to be there with them whilst they're young, and be around as they grow. I want to spend as much time with them as I can and want our lifestyle to reflect that - I would choose that any day over earning more money, for example.
Would you say you have been more productive since having children, or less?
More, definitely! Nothing makes you use your free time better than when you have none! I feel like despite the unavoidable foggy-headed mum brain times, I'm also very focused and passionate about what I want to achieve, when I have the time to achieve anything un-family-related! I think I get on with things more, and don't hold myself back so much with worrying about how things might turn out.
What is your favourite thing about being a mother?
Discovering that I'm someone completely new, that I sometimes can't even recognise - I'm much better at coping and much more emotionally resilient than I thought I was. Experiencing that intense love for my own children. Bittersweet is too tame a word for the whole thing, but it is! Mostly I guess I love that even on challenging days, if I can generate some good humour inside there's always these two people right here who are up for a laugh, every single time without fail, and who adore fun and are so good natured and joyful.
And your least favourite?
The exhaustion and the overwhelm! That feeling sometimes that there's no time to pause and take a breath. And then remembering eventually to pause and take a breath, and finding that everything's still fine!
What do you love about where you live and what does your ideal weekend look like?
I love the space, the wildness and the nature of where I live. My eyes are so happy living here! It never fails to inspire, restore, calm, give perspective and balance. My ideal weekend would be that rare holy grail of combinations - time to be creative on my own at home, time to exercise outside, time with my family outdoors somewhere, and time with the kids so my partner got some space too. And some DIY, and coffee and cake.
And finally do you have any tips for working from home with toddlers?
Prioritise, and think big and long. I often remind myself that on my deathbed, I won't regret not replying to an email straight away, but I will regret not really being present with and enjoying my children whilst they're young. In addition, I won't regret waiting to respond to an email until they're both distracted or sleeping - but I would regret losing my temper because they're both acting up because I'm on my phone again. I love my ventures so much that I work hard to slot it into my life in ways that genuinely work for me. That said, sometimes I think you have to dig your heels in and insist that your family works around you. It can be tempting to let things go for the sake of an easier life, but some sense of personal fulfilment is absolutely vital for a happy family. The old "put your own life jacket on first" analogy. I want my work to be of quality and also my parenting, and I think the two are better because of each other. I also think you do need lots of coffee and cake.
THANKS SKYE X