Hey there, friends! One of my goals for 2020 is to make these monthly coffee breaks much more regular. I know I love reading “behind-the-blog” posts from my favorite bloggers, and you all have told me over and over that you look forward to these posts (sometimes) more than any others! Getting each Toolbox upload done each month tends to take a lot out of me; and once that’s done for the month, all I really want to do is sit, relax and chat! So…if you stop by the first Friday of each month, I’ll be here catching you up on life behind-the-blog, things to look forward to, and other tips and announcements. This month, I’m sharing a big step I’ve made behind the scenes (that will ultimately mean more great things here!), a very-welcome change I’ve made to my monthly newsletter, and some inspiring Valentines projects for you to try this month! So grab a hot cup of whatever you drink, and let’s catch up!
A BIG Step for Me
I started The Homes I Have Made six months after Henry was born – over 8 years ago now! This was right when I transitioned to being a stay-at-home Mom and really wanted (and frankly, needed) something more than nursing and diapering my baby all day long. It was when Pinterest was just coming onto the scene, and I suddenly found a whole world of people who liked to decorate and organize their homes just like me. I clearly remember the night I started the blog. I also clearly remember Greg’s reaction, with raised eyebrows and (if he was being honest) a hefty dose of skepticism. “It’s just for fun,” I said. And for many, many years it was.
From day one, I’ve always said that the blog was something I did in the “margins of motherhood.” I worked, almost exclusively, during naps, nights, and weekends. Every now and then I’d hire a babysitter if I had a deadline or while Greg was deployed. But on the whole, this blog has been the side hustle to my main priority of raising my children. Over the years though, the blog became more than “just for fun.” It became a passion. It became an income source. It became an opportunity for steady work as a military spouse. It became something I felt responsibility toward; and even more so, it became something I genuinely wanted to to work on, improve and grow.
I’m not going to lie. It has always been tight getting things done with kids underfoot. I’ve spent a good amount of the last 8 years stretched a bit thin from trying to juggle a lot of different balls. I’ve pulled a lot of late nights, and I tend to cut deadlines a little too close. It was mostly working before Jack (our third, born 5 months ago). But after he was born and I suddenly had two littles (on very different schedules) at home with me all day, every day, the late nights got even later and the stress level got just a bit higher.
But something else also happened. I realized in the early weeks of Jack’s life how important the work of the blog had actually become to me over the years. Don’t get me wrong, I love being home with my children. But I also love to work. I love to have projects going. I love to have something that challenges me. And I love having a job that allows me to express my creativity and requires me to write coherently. While on a “maternity break,” I didn’t revel in the lack of responsibility here on the blog; I missed it and craved it.
For the first time ever, I didn’t want the blog to just fit within the margins. I wanted to give it a place in our lives. I wanted to find a way to be home with the kids and work on the blog but without the perpetual state of frazzled-ness that has become my norm. So after a lot of reflection and chats with Greg, we determined the only way to do that…was to get help.
My #1 goal for January was to hire part-time help here at home with the two little boys. 12 hours/week. That may not seem like much, but for someone who has spent 8 years squeezing blog work into the spare minutes of the day, having 12 dedicated hours of kid-free time to spend on the blog is HUGE. For the first time ever, I actually feel like all the hopes and plans I dream up every January might actually happen this year. And gosh, do I have plans and dreams!
When our “Nanny” started this week, I wasn’t quite prepared for the wave of emotions I experienced. Not only am I thrilled about the focused time I now get to spend creating content for you guys, but it’s also a mark of how far this little blog has come. What started as a hobby just for fun is now something that that I proudly call “my work.” It’s something that provides income for our family, professional opportunities for me, and a reliable constant in a military lifestyle that keeps us on the move. Hiring help so I can work isn’t just a relief…it’s one of the most tangible signs of accomplishment of what I’ve built here and worked at for so long. I’m so proud, and even more grateful, and genuinely excited about this next chapter both as a blogger and a Mom!
I’ve dropped little details here and there but I wanted to just quickly talk about my plans for this year…you know…with all this extra work time I have now 😉 In general, I plan to stick to the following 8 post/month schedule:
- First Tuesday: Toolbox launch day
- Friday Friday: Coffee Break
- Cycling regularly:
- 2 posts/month: Organization
- 2 posts/month: DIY/home updates
- 2 posts/month: Cricut tutorials and projects
I feel like this schedule will help me regularly rotate around my favorite and most-popular topics without getting stuck too much on one thing. If Cricut isn’t your thing, but you love organizing, you’ll know another post is just around the corner…and vice versa.
That said, I wanted to give you a head’s up that I have some other things in the works this year that might not fit neatly into this schedule. The first being a BIG project that will hit the blog later this month (keep an eye on my Instagram account over the next few days to see what I’m talking about)! I’m SUPER excited about it, and it’s a pretty big deal for me, and I know you guys are going to love it too! But once this secret project wraps, I’ll be back to my usual routine!
A Fun New Newsletter
If you’ve been on my mailing list for any amount of time, you likely know that I have genuinely struggled to find a good groove. I’ve experimented with lots of different days, layouts, and content for my weekly newsletter…and in recent months, I’ve opted to do nothing at all. Well…after a lot of brainstorming about the best way to utilize my email platform so that it is 1) fun to read, 2) useful, and 3) most importantly, quick…I’ve decided to change things up for 2020!
Of all the feedback I get from you guys, the main two requests are for more content (as in a third weekly blog post) and shorter content (that can be read and digested quickly). Welp – I still can’t make a third blog post/week happen (even with the extra help), but I CAN take the ideas and home updates that don’t warrant a formal blog post and share them in my newsletter instead.
To remind me to keep it short and sweet (and so you recognize it when it comes into your email), I’ve dubbed this new format “The Sunday Short.” This is a mini blog post that will pop up in your Inbox each Sunday, and includes just a picture or two and less than 500 typed words (yes, I’m giving myself a limit 😉 )! I’m super excited about this fresh new direction and based on the reaction I had to the first installment (that went out last Sunday), I think you guys will love it too!
I’ve committed to sending The Sunday Short for the next 3 months to see if it’s something you love and I can maintain, but I’ve got a really great feeling about it. If you’re not yet on my mailing list or you’ve unsubscribed in the past, use the form along the bottom of this page to join in the fun!
Helpful Posts for February
With the calendar flipping to February, you might be scrambling for some easy decor or last-minute Valentines…you do have just 1 week, after all! Here are some of my favorite past posts that may be helpful as you get ready for the big love day!
I so enjoy sitting down and “chatting” about whatever is on my mind and/or going on behind the scenes. Thanks for indulging me, and I’ll see you back here next Tuesday!Posted In Coffee Breaks, Life, Virginia 2