Adulting wasn’t a term when I got married, but I was having a hard time with it. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to run a household. I am the oldest of 15 kids, so I knew how to cook, clean, and change diapers.
I had experience working in a print shop. I had a college degree in graphic design. I just couldn’t find a job locally that would pay for both. Minimum wage was the best I could do. Talk about bursting my financial dreams!
Finally, I found a graphic art job 27 miles from home. It would do. It was corporate, with profit sharing and insurance. I liked my co-workers and the work was OK.
The two-person department I worked in was like a well-oiled machine. We churned ads out and designed special sections for holidays. [Holidays include ‘home improvement season’ and the like.] I even won an ad design award from the newspaper association.
I was really looking for a way to be a stay-at-home mom, but the insurance plan from corporate wouldn’t cover labor and delivery unless I returned to work. So return was the plan.
Until my newborn got sick — so sick with RSV that I spent many days and nights in a hospital six hours from home with him. I missed my “return-to-work” date while sitting in a hospital chair watching Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama (they didn’t have many options in the children’s ward)
A few weeks later, when my three-month-old was healthy enough to leave with a sitter, I returned to my job with my resignation in hand. I didn’t put in my full two weeks.
I tried to embrace my newly found “independence” from the working world. Between hospital stays and sleepless nights, I didn’t have much time to dwell on not working.
Unexpectedly, my boss called and begged me to come back to work. He needed someone to train their new hire, and no one in the office had time. Fine, I said, as long as I could take my nine-month-old with me. And it worked. For the next two months he played beside me in a pack-n-play while I trained the new staff, designed a systems manual, and transferred files as we consolidated offices.
I loved being back in front of a computer, using my design talents, and feeling useful — needed — and appreciated again. (For some reason, kids don’t tend to display gratitude for the work mothers put in).
Returning home again, I thought about the ways I could do both — be a working, contributing member of the adult world, and still be available for my family. I could work from home. Why not? My mother did it — building a business in the big white house I grew up in. I had a good model to work from. The printing industry was in my blood.
At tax time I realized I didn’t quite make enough money to sustain the business part of the business. Yes, it covered the cost of my computer, but I didn’t have enough clients consistently to cover anything extra — insurance, software, or any kind of living wage. I had a hobby.
After the birth of my second child I got bored at home. He was healthy (thank goodness!), was a good eater, and I slept every night.
I thought that working for a company part-time, and even setting up the systems to be able to work from home occasionally would scratch my designer itch and still keep me involved with my young kids at home. I was wrong.
Sitters canceled as I was heading to work. Kids got sick. I was trying to pump while sitting in the car (in the middle of town!) because I still had a nursing baby. It was not pretty.
Our rural internet access is amazing, and I no longer needed babysitters. I’d finally mastered the art of working while parenting!
Sitting hunched over my computer screen, I copied and pasted obituaries, classified ads and local events. I skimmed for double spaces and misspelled words. The black and white images blurred before my eyes as the days wore on.
Tuesdays were deadline days and I regularly put in 12 steady hours. My job was to handle ad creation and newspaper layout for the small weekly newspaper.
Noon Monday deadline for ad copy? Psh. Noon Monday deadline for reporter stories? Nevamind. Tuesday evening was when everything flowed in. Urgent — timely — and oh-so-important to get into the once-weekly small town newspaper.
It had to get in. If someone died Tuesday afternoon, the funeral was over by the time it reached print.
Making everything fit AND look nice was at the center of my sweet spot. I had instant insight into where things should go - like a puzzle with only one solution. A weekly newspaper layout and me...
I don’t remember getting sick. I only remember the feeling of utter devastation one Tuesday evening when EVERYTHING swam before my eyes. I couldn’t remember how to add headlines in a program I’d been using for 15 years. I knew I had an extra advertisement to place on the page, but I couldn’t find it.
I was writing my own poem, “Neither strep nor hallucinations, nor gloom of night…”
Plowing through, I was so close to being done with the weekly edition when it disappeared. Gone. Vanished. And no one could find it.
Work ethic was flowing through my blood - SISU. I knew that if I just put in a little more time I could recreate what I had done.
Loren, my dear husband, put a stop to it. He forced me to turn off my computer. He called the office and sent me to bed. I didn’t function for a whole week. My body refused to comply with the urgency in my brain. It sat. And slept.
And the world went on without me.
I didn’t quit the job, not right away. But I did feel numb afterwards. The job had no room for personal development, I didn’t feel like my ideas were valued, and I was struggling with keeping in touch at home. I finally left the job when I became pregnant with my third child.
I worked the entire two days I was in the hospital in labor. My freelance business had really taken off, and I still didn’t have a very good handle on time management and deadlines.
The obstetrics wing had one desktop computer I could use to reach my network at home. I went back and forth between walking through contractions and sitting through edits. My sweet daughter entered the world after my project reached completion.
I learned time blocking and messaging. I traveled to seminars on business building. I consumed all of the online business development I could - learning was fun!
All of the years of personal development I’d been immersed in were finally coming together. I hired a team and purchased project management software.
I love my work — I feel I could sit at my desk while a tornado blows through and I wouldn’t notice unless my internet connection disappeared.
After working with hundreds of local businesses over the past three years, I’ve discovered one constant theme; we don’t have enough time to do it all.
Working too hard takes a toll on the body. I’ve lived through it. I want to teach parents of young children how to work on their business and still have time to spend with their family.
I spend more time with my kids — and my husband. I have team members that cover for me when I take vacations. I’ve learned which types of clients are good for me, and which ones aren’t.
I want more parents to be available in their important relationships so their kids don't grow up without them; so they remember to live as a part of the world and not apart from the world; so their spouses appreciate the money they're bringing in AND the time they spend together.
I want to do business on my own terms. And I want you to enjoy the journey as well.
How can I help your business thrive?
Andrea Haverinen is the Marketing Engineer for rural businesses. She believes that parents deserve to enjoy the financial benefits of being self-employed AND the personal rewards of spending time with their kids while they’re young.
Through her one-on-one Be Remembered API ™ program, she helps business owners develop a strategy so that they have better customers returning again and again.
When she’s away from the business, Andrea teaches quilting classes and drinks every variety of tea.
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