Welcome to my Maven Mompreneurs Spotlight Series where I share inspiring stories from moms who are pursuing their dreams while raising a family. My goal with these interviews is to light a fire within you and remind you to never let go of your dreams but pursue them with passion and grace.
Today’s spotlight highlights an amazing mom and Ph.D. candidate, Liz of The Stay Sane Mom!
What’s the name of your business?
The Stay Sane Mom
What services do you provide?
Our top-level mission is to provide tools and support to help busy, multitasking moms master their domains so they can be more than just “mom”.
In practice, this translates to a huge range of goodies. We have lots of free printable home organization and self-development workbooks, hardcore parenting and marriage research, and an upcoming line of custom-designed planners that help moms combine planning for home, business, kids, work, and whatever else all in one place.
Basically, we try to provide anything moms need to make their lives easier.
What was the motivation behind starting your business?
Within the span of 4 years, I went from being a single Masters student 2 moving across the country with my new husband and preteens stepdaughter and shortly thereafter we had another baby, who is now a roaring toddler-nado. To say I got thrown into the deep end of parenting would be a drastic understatement.
As I adjusted to life as a work at home mom, new mom, new stepmom, and an overwhelmed household organizer (we moved from an NYC apartment to a five-bedroom house) the two things I have the hardest time with were balancing everything on my plate and finding room for me to be an actual human being, other than “Mom”, “chauffeur”, “tutor”, or “laundress”.
I slowly started doing research, creating systems, and figuring out ways to get my new horde of responsibilities in order oh, so that I actually had time to do the things that had previously made me “me”. One day I shared one of my organization sheets with a friend, and she all but demanded that I find some way to share what I had been doing with other moms, so The Stay Sane Mom was born!
How can we learn more about your business? (website, phone number, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc)
What’s the most rewarding part of your business?
I love the individual interactions with the moms I made. Every time I get an email or share a message with a mom, I’m blown away by how many amazing, hard-working, and, yes, sleep-deprived moms there are out there. Everyone I talk to has such an amazing story and is juggling so many different things, many of them without any support whatsoever!
My absolute favorite thing to do is hearing about the problems a specific mom has reached out to me with and creating a solution that makes them a little bit easier for her.
How does your family support you in your business endeavors?
Patience, mainly. My toddler is patient with me when I work on my laptop while I probably should be hunting monsters with her. My husband is patient with me greeting him at the door talking excitedly about some new project I’m working on. Everyone in our house is incredibly busy, so we all support each other however we can. That, and my husband is excellent at pep talks. It doesn’t matter what’s going wrong when he puts his mind to it he can make even the worst situation in the world feel manageable.
What drew you to the blogging world?
I’ve always been a reader of blogs, primarily the sarcastic and humorous kind. However, I’ve never really understood why anyone would want to read what basically amounted to being my journal.
Because I have a background in computer coding, I actually started flirting with the idea of creating a website more as a platform on which I could create web tools (like to do lists, recipe databases, and photo time capsules). Then when I began to look into blogging from that perspective, it actually made sense as a business model, rather than just publishing your diary online.
You are a Ph.D. candidate! Tell us more about that!
The short story is I am a huge nerd with a weakness for psychological research. The longer story is that I’m getting my Ph.D. in business psychology. The program covers everything from coaching two organizational consulting, but my favorite part is the research. I’m writing my dissertation on the way individual factors (such as goal orientation and intrinsic motivation) affect the way people respond to failure.
It’s absolute madness on the scheduling front, with freelancing career, two kids, and a business on the side, but I absolutely love doing research and (once I’ve completed my degree) I will hopefully be able to continue doing formal research as a remote professor with some university’s psychology department.
I’m absolutely fascinated by so many of the new findings that are coming from modern psychology research, but a lot of them aren’t applied to daily life in a way that’s understandable to someone who isn’t as big of an egghead as I am. Overall, I hope to marry the research I’m doing on an academic front with the help I can give moms on a practical front.
How many children do you have?
I am the Roomba-like, maternal assistant to two human children (one Instagram-obsessed stepdaughter and one sparkle-clad toddler-nado), two ridiculously large dogs with a “Pinky and the Brain” type of relationship, a rabbit larger than the average house cat, and a herd of well-trained dust bunnies.
How do you balance “all the things” that come with being a wife, mom, mompreneur, and P.hD candidate?
Organization, compartmentalization, and sleep deprivation. First the organization, I keep detailed planners and to do lists. If it doesn’t get written down, it’s out of my working memory in 18 seconds. (#mombrain) However, stuff that does get written down gets prioritized, categorized, and scheduled.
Second, I compartmentalize myself into my different “roles” and try not to let one bleed over to the others. When I’m in “mom mode” I try not to brainstorm my next blog post or go over my dissertation variables in my head. When I’m working for a client, I try not to get distracted by how cute the toddler snores coming from the other side of the room are. When I actually get time with my spouse, I try to put everything away in its proper box and just be in the moment. This is a ridiculously challenging mental exercise, but when I succeed is also when I’m happiest.
Sleep deprivation is basically a necessity. My mom always joked that “nap when the baby naps” doesn’t apply if you want to get your work done more than you want to sleep. Now that I’m a parent, not only do I completely understand what she meant, but I feel the need to retrospectively apologize for not sleeping more as a kid so she could get her work done!
What advice would you give a mom who’s afraid to take the first step in pursuing her passion and purpose?
First, I’d tell her that it is possible to be a mom and a real human being at the same time.
It feels overwhelming to watch all the “real people” get up with an alarm clock (rather than a screaming toddler), get dressed with both hands, go to a job where they’re not covered in marker and get to talk to other adult humans, then actually clock out, go home, and get to relax. None of those things happen when you’re a mom. You’re on the clock from the second you open your eyes until you fall asleep mid-verse singing the fifteenth round of “You Are My Sunshine” to a squirming mini-me.
I’d tell her that it does take more work than any of these “non-mom humans” have to exert for their jobs, but we get to actually watch our kids grow up and have a career at the same time, so it’s worth it.
For the mom who is actively pursuing her passion and purpose, what would you say to encourage her?
Practical Advice: I’m an absolute nut for goal setting. Set regular goals. Bonus points if they’re SMART goals Write them down. Better yet, write them all down in the same place. Make work goals. Make goals for your parenting. For your marriage. I really feel that people only make serious progress when they set goals and then measure their progress towards them. You don’t want to float through your life, you want to grab it by the ear and take it where you want to go.
Emotional Advice: Keep going! The progress is never going to be as fast as you want it to be, but if you look at your success week over week (or month to month) instead of from one day to the next you’ll see how well you’re actually doing.
Just for fun questions:
What’s your favorite way to unwind from your day?
Lol, does sleep count?
Honestly, my happiest nights are when the kids go to bed on time, the hubby works a bit late so I can cuddle on our bedroom sofa and get some guilt-free laptop work time in, then he comes up when I’m starting to get sleepy anyway and we get to snuggle in bed and watch some late night comedians together on YouTube. That’s my happy place.
What’s your favorite movie and why?
I have a favorite movie plot, but it happens to happen in a lot of movies. Here’s my favorite “movie”:
Underdog who’s been overlooked by the system gets a chance to do something challenging. Everyone hates them at first because they’re the underdog and not right in some stereotypical dimension, but then there’s a training montage and by the end of the movie they kick (or save) everyone’s butts.
This is quite handy because it means my favorite movie is simultaneously GI Jane, Remember the Titans, Burlesque, Gridiron Gang, Coyote Ugly, The Replacements, and every episode of The Biggest Loser.