A glimpse into suburban mom life

September 30, 2009

Generally,  I work full time. I may be self-employed, and may get to make my own hours, but I tend to put in nearly 40 of them during a work week. Or more.

My kids attend school in a rather affluent neighborhood, and sometimes I feel like one of the only working moms at the school. All the other mommies seem to have time to volunteer for field trips, drive their kids to activities right after school, and personal time, for stuff like manicures and boot camp workouts. I barely even get to the class, since I often drop the kids at before care and always pick them up at aftercare. I know I sound petty and jealous, but well, I guess I am.

Don’t get me wrong — I couldn’t be a stay-at-home mom. I know my own limitations. I love my kids, but if I couldn’t go to work, or at least have the intellectual escape of work, I’d go nuts. I don’t have the stamina or patience to be a stay-at-home mom. Many’s a day I wish I did, but I don’t.

Still, I partly envy the other mommies at my school. They have time, now that our kids are in school, to do stuff by themselves during the school day. They can shop alone, they can workout, and most of all, they have time for other mommies, time to make and nurture friendships. I don’t, and I often feel quite left out when all the other mommies gather and giggle, and I don’t get the jokes.

Anyhow, last week, I mentioned this in passing to a mom from my son’s class, and she was very understanding. In fact, she suggested that perhaps I could join her and a couple other moms for a weekly exercise class. Normally I would have had to say no, but this one actually fit into my schedule. At least it did last week. So I came. And I feel like I entered another world, a world of suburban moms which I had only ever glimpsed or seen on tv before.

This class, a 75 minute boot camp (not as hard as it sounds!), is taught by a mom in her converted garage. It’s a great workout studio space, packed with balls and bars and weights and stuff. And a dozen moms turned up for this class. They were all fit and trim. During the class, we paired up, and every pair chatted away as they did the circuit. I eavesdropped a lot, and heard about soccer, girl guides, school fundraisers, canning, and other mom talk.

It was a fun class, and I enjoyed spending time with the mommies I knew and meeting the ones I didn’t. But it all seemed kind of surreal, like I was allowed temporary entree into another world, a world we working moms don’t get to live in. Yes, I take my kids to soccer and lessons, and I even cook and can food sometimes. But I don’t normally get a lot of time to discuss any of it with other mommies. Because I’m too busy working. And to prove my point, about 45 minutes into the class I took a water break and glanced at my blackberry, only to find an urgent message from a client. So I had to step out of class for five minutes to call the client, call a reporter, and deal with a work matter. Then I reentered the other world and finished the workout.

I think I’ll go back to the class next week, because I like the workout and I enjoyed the chance to step outside myself. Maybe if I do it often enough I might find a way to feel a part of the suburban mom life, instead of just feeling like an interloper.

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New price for sale of Movies for Mommies Vancouver

September 24, 2009

I’m sorry for the blog silence lately. Work and home have both been very busy for me and I’m falling behind. There’s lots I planned to blog about, and I’ll try to catch up soon. But in the meantime, I have set a new price for Movies for Mommies Vancouver and I hope that will interest a buyer to take over the business before the end of the year.

You probably know that my MFM screenings are part of a national license of the MFM brand. Buying me out is contingent on being approved as a licensee by the Toronto office (well, it’s really just one person). But she trusts my judgment and anyone I pick will have no trouble getting approved. Anyhow, the price I set for the business included the license fee for the first year. But I’ve been doing some negotiating with the Toronto office, and have gotten her to agree to waive the license fee for the first year altogether. That lowers my original asking price by several thousand dollars.

So posted here now is a revised two-page summary of the sale. MFM Vancouver is a great business for a start-up mompreneur. It’s easy to run and fun to do, and if you put just a bit more effort in than I’ve done the past couple years, you can really make some money.

If you’re interested, please download this file and then contact me.


Finally, time to work

September 8, 2009

I am so happy to have the kids back in school today. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. Summer camps are great, but the hours aren’t as long as school + aftercare. And since I’m self-employed, I try to give the boys a few weeks at home, but that means a lot less time for me to work.

But today, at last, I regain my home office, and my schedule. It’s amazing how quickly I’ve shifted into fall mode. Clients are slowly checking in with new projects, and I’m already ramping things up, just on the first day.

It’s been great to have a quiet summer — great in the sense that it’s nice to have more free time. But of course, when work is quiet, so is my income, so it’s not always so great. But this year, quiet is okay, because I have some stuff lined up already for the fall. Not every quiet summer is that enjoyable, but this one was.

And quiet worked for me so I could have the kids around more. But man, does it ever feel amazing to have them back in school. Then again, I’m blogging now instead of finishing that news release I need to do, so maybe I have to work harder at shifting back into fall mode. Hmmmm.


The end of summer

September 7, 2009

The signs are all here now. Summer is over.

First, it got cold. We turned on the heat yesterday and don’t expect to shut it off much now until April.

Next, baseball is over. This year my son played summer ball, stretching the regular season from April all the way to the end of August. And yesterday we watched the last game for the Vancouver Canadians for the season. And yes, they won.

Third, lessons start this week. Piano lessons, swimming lessons, and soon weekend soccer games. Here comes my scheduling nightmare trying to get two kids to everything when both parents work and we only have one car. How do bigger families do it?

Finally, school starts tomorrow. Whooopeee!! I’ve been counting down the days for weeks now, and finally, it’s here. It’s been nice having a calm summer with fewer deadlines and an easier schedule, but when you’re trying to work from home and schedule actual client stuff and kids are running around the house or taking up your time, school can’t come fast enough.

Goodbye summer (although weather wise, I’d be happy to be proven wrong!), hello fall.


Memories of grade two

September 3, 2009

Not that either of my kids are entering grade two this year, but I’ve been reminiscing tonite about my grade two teacher, Mrs. Wallace.

She was probably my favourite elementary school teacher. She was older (of course, I was younger, so she was probably only in her 40s), but full of enthusiasm. She made school fun with little tricks.

The things that really stick out in my mind, though, are all about grammar. When I told my 8 year old that, he asked what grammar was. I told Mr. French Immersion there it was “grammaire,” but he still didn’t know the word. What do they call the pronouns/adjectives/verb etc these days?

Anyhow, Mrs. Wallace once had my class parade around the classroom, then around the halls, chanting “If is a little word with a big meaning.” More than three decades later, I remember that phrase, and even the beat to which we chanted it.

I also remembered a lesson on the difference between “can” and “may.” Maybe you “can” do something physically, but the bigger question would be are you given permission. In the middle of that lecture my older sister came to the classroom to talk to me about something (can’t remember what!), and asked “Can I speak to Carla please?” Well, Mrs. Wallace replied, “I’m sure you can.” And my sister stood there dumbfounded. So she asked again “Can Carla come out here for a minute please?”, and again Mrs. Wallace answered her with “I’m sure she can.” I remember the whole class giggling and my sister beginning to steam. Finally, Mrs. Wallace told my sister “If you’re asking if Carla may come out there, then all right, she may.”

I expect neither my sister nor many of my classmates have forgotten that one. And after telling that story to my kids tonite, I hope they don’t forget too soon either.


The mechanics of selling my business

September 2, 2009

I am not an accountant. I’m not an MBA. And I’m definitely not a business broker. So when it comes to putting Movies for Mommies Vancouver up for sale, I was feeling a bit out of my depth to begin. Of course I have a sense of what it’s worth, what my earnings are, etc. But the whole business of selling it was a bit foreign to me.

So okay, I sought advice. And I got great advice. Did you know that businesses are generally sold for three to five times earnings (income less expenses)? That made things easy to price, at least on my end. But I operate MFM Vancouver on a license from MFM national, which means there’s also the license fee to consider. Sure, someone could buy my business and run it as something other than MFM, but head office would likely sue you, so it would be better all around if the buyer also became the new licensee for the brand. But okay, I negotiated with head office and got a good price on the license fees to make buying my business and the license affordable.

Then I needed to pull together the paperwork. I keep my own books, but I do a good job, so I pulled together the financials. And the publicity and marketing, because a buyer would want to see all that. Now I had a package about the business. So I also did up a two-page summary of what running MFM Vancouver is like, added my selling price, and PDFed it.

Now the hard part — spreading the word. One of the reasons I’m selling is that I haven’t really had time enough to spend on MFM, but in order to find a buyer, I have to spend time getting word out. Catch 22, huh? So I’m using email, twitter, my e-newsletter, Facebook, and even this blog to get news out about the sale. I still think the new buyer will probably be a mommie who has experienced how great MFM can be and who wants a part-time business that fits with the lifestyle of being a mom. So I’m starting there to pass along word.

Will I find a buyer? I hope so, because I’m really attached to MFM Vancouver and would hate to see it shut down. But I have to give myself a deadline, after which point I just have to stop. So if you know someone who might be interested, have them contact me.

Better yet, download this file and pass it along. It’s my two page summary.

This may not be the most conventional way to find a buyer for a business, but hopefully the mommie network will come through and a buyer will come out of the woodwork.