Stationery designer Tara Vaughn is a work at home mom to two little kiddos, and she’s the owner of Print Smitten. Her online shop specialized in kids party invites, favor kits, wedding stationery such as signage, favor tags, thank you cards, and my favorite, cheeky greeting cards for all occasions. Tara shares how she recently transitioned to being a WAHM so she could be home for her children.
Did you always plan to be a WAHM? If not, what made you decide to work from home?
I always knew I was going to have my own creative business from the time I graduated high school. I just didn’t know exactly what I would be doing. I wanted to stay home with my children before I even had them! And while that plan didn’t work out right away, I’m finally self employed and living my dream. Being a stay at home mom was more important to me then anything in this world and I knew I needed a creative outlet as well so being a WAHM was the obvious solution to feed both my needs.
How long have you been a WAHM?
I’m fresh out of the corporate world. I started working from home in January of this year. It took me less then a year to reach that goal, far sooner then I had ever planned.
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
I have two children. Abigail is my oldest. She is 4 and oh so sassy and demanding. My youngest is Ethan, is 2. He’s my laid back chill child. Give him a foam sword and he’s occupied for hours.
What is your workstation setup like? (ie. In the kitchen, room to room, in an office/study, etc.)
Ha! What’s that? We live a 3 story town home, so space is limited. Not realizing how much my business would grow so fast, we didn’t really anticipate saving space for an official studio. So the kitchen table is where all the magic happens. I do all my production work there. In the evenings, my desk consist of me lounging on the sofa with my laptop and mouse resting on the arm of the couch. All my supplies are neatly tucked away in a large cabinet in the corner of the kitchen. We have no room for anymore supplies so soon, the garage will need to be converted. Sorry Hubby!
What days/hours do you typically work?
My daughter doesn’t sleep past 6:30 ( sigh ). So I start my day around then. We get up, get breakfast and I sit at the table and start answering emails while she eats. I work up until lunch time, break, and when the kids go down for naps, I work some more. I do all my production during the day and at night I do all my designing. Believe it or not, it’s easier for me to design at night while the kids are in bed and I have a cleared head. My day usually ends around midnight or when my eyes close on me, mouse in hand. Most nights I don’t even remember stumbling up the stairs. I try to reserved the weekends for my family, but that can even be a blurred reality depending on my work load. Wedding season is particularly bad with rush orders. So I must be available 24/7 to answer emails and set up custom orders so they can be delivered in time. Since this is now my source of income, no job shall be left behind!
Do you have a nanny/mother’s helper while you work?
I’m very fortunate to have family close to me, however, since the whole idea is to spend more time with my children, I try not to rely on that too often. They visit grandma and pap on Mondays and Fridays. Those two days I basically bust my tush getting as much done as I can.
How does being a WAHM affect your husband/partner?
At first, my fiancé was skeptical about my business venture. Why? Because we’ve been together for 11 years and he has seen me try and fail at at least 4 different crafts. I think the “AH HA” moment for him was when he saw the money I was making doing graphic design and how my Etsy shop took off so fast for being a new shop on the scene in such a saturated market. He realized that this may be the one thing that will give us financial freedom. And the fact that he got a nice ticket to an O’s game for father’s day, funded by my earnings 🙂 . He’s been super supportive ever since and even helps me out when he can. I’m not gonna say that the last year hasn’t been full of ups and downs but I made a pact with him that If I couldn’t make this work in 1 year, I would quite and walk away. Well, guess what, I happened in less then 6 months and we couldn’t be happier.
What are some of your frustrations with being a WAHM?
The kids of course. Being so young, they still require a lot of attention and most of my days consist of being interrupted at least 100 times for one thing or another. I try to balance this act of super mom and enterpenur and some days the hats fall off and land where they may. Some days are better then others. But the most important thing to remember is the children come first. If I have a rough day, or they need extra attention for whatever reason, then I know that night Ill be up later then usual playing catch up. And I’m OK with that.
What is the single most gratifying part of being a WAHM?
I can make my own schedule. If I wanna take the afternoon off and go strawberry picking with the kids, I can. If I wanna hang out by the pool one afternoon I can. I don’t have to wake up and answer to anyone else but myself. It’s so satisfying I cannot explain. It’s those small moments where you sit back and think all those sleepless nights are totally worth it.
Describe a typical day in the life for you as a WAHM.
I’m gonna summarize this as best I can. In a nutshell, we wake up around 6:30 and I start working as best I can in between getting snacks, filling sippy cups, helping put puzzles together, fixing toys, getting more snacks, filling sippy’s again, vacuuming crumbs, changing diapers etc. Typical toddler stuff. Whatever I can’t get done in between the 100 + interuptions, gets done at night after bedtime. Sometimes I’m still working till 1 am and sometimes I can manage to get to be sooner. I’ve learned to go with the flow and while a schedule is important, I have to be flexible and realize that kids come first and I will always stop to help them with whatever they may need.
What food/toys/technology/etc. could you not live without as a WAHM?
cheese sticks and bananas are a staple in this house. Without those two items, my kids might starve. They are snackers, they eat constantly all day. Those are the two things they can get on their own without mommies help. My daughter loves to “work” with me. She will sit at the table for hours and cut paper, draw and glue things just like mommy does. My son cannot live without his ipad. He loves to watch Mike the Knight and Thomas the Train. He can sit content for a long time while learning with games too.
How do you think being a WAHM has helped you and your family?
I’m able to focus more on my kids’s well being. Before, they would go to great grandma’s house. Yes I said GREAT. I started to feel uncomfortable with this arrangement so It’s really put our family to ease knowing that they are being well taken care of. I’ve also been able to afford things we normally would not have been able to. This has been a blessing for us.
What advice would you give to a mother working outside the home who wants to transition to being a WAHM?
Make sure you have a real long sit down talk with your partner. I can’t express how important this is. You know what work and dedication will be involved but the rest of the family has to be aware as well. My fiance, thought he knew, but really didn’t until I was about 3 months in. He started to feel neglected. We had to have another conversation and I had cut back some on my work load. It’s never worth a relationship just be successful. Family always comes first. We eventually worked through it and ever since this became my full time job, everything has been so much better. But it’s a bumpy road and it’s important that everyone in the house is aware of the journey up front.
What sacrifices have you had to make in order to be a WAHM?
I pretty much stopped my social life. I didn’t go out, I barely talked to anyone on the phone. I spent every last penny I had on supplies and sacrificed lots and lots of sleep. Id go days without a shower and I was luck if I put makeup on to walk out of the house. My “real” job started to become increasingly annoying when I would get sales while working and their was nothing I could do. My performance began to fail and that was the moment I realized I needed to take the plunge.
What are some of the misconceptions you feel exist towards WAHMs?
Most people don’t even know what a WAHM is. I have to correct even my finance when he tells what I do. He will call me a SAHM. That’s so far from the truth! Balancing kids, a house, bills, a business is the single most hardest job. I’ve never worked harder in my life.
What sounds do you like to hear the most while working?
I pop on the Pandora radio while working. The top POP hits are my favorite, my guilty pleasure. I’m sure the neighbors have seen me bust a move here and there. I can get down to some pretty raunchy rap to something more “kid friendly” like Of Monsters and Men or Goyte. Heck even some Fresh Beat Band can get me moving.
Is there anything else you want to share about life as a WAHM?
It’s the most gratifying thing I can be doing. I can’t imagine not being able to see my kids grow up. In a couple years, knowing that I can get them off the school bus and not miss a single baseball game just makes me smile and warms my heart.
Thank you Tara for sharing your awesome story! You are super-talented. Isn’t her work space a dream come true!?