by Sharon Wee
Michelle Green is the blogger behind Business of Baking – a fantastic and knowledgeable blog about the ins and outs of running a cake business. She owns a cake business herself as well as being a mum to triplets. Yes, TRIPLETS. And this year, I am going on tour with her through the Business of Baking on Tour to help other cakers turn their love and passion into reality (a sustainable business).
I’ve noticed that one of the most common question she always gets asked is “How do you do it all? How do you find the time??” So I thought that this post would be a great insight to the crazy and fun life that is Michelle Green 😀
When Sharon asked me to write an article outlining a week in my life, I must admit my first reaction (after being flattered) was plain old exhaustion. I know I live my life at warp speed, but the idea of seeing it all down on paper seemed somehow even more tiring! The truth of it is, my life is a little bit crazy and a whole lot busy, but that’s exactly as I like it. Of course like everyone else I wish I had more ‘down time’ and sleep ins, but on the whole I love being busy because it keeps me out of trouble!
I should say that being a Mum to triplets has never stopped me achieving things or going after what I really wanted. I started culinary school when the kids were 2 years old, and was formally opening a business only a couple of years after that. It hasn’t always been easy – and there have been times when I really wondered what I had gotten myself into. That being said, I’m not sure I would have done it any differently, because having such a life full of blessings and adventures has made me what I am today – slightly crazy and very proud of myself, my kids, and my business.
If I were to give anyone any kind of advice about running a business and a family, I’d probably say that you should have a really good partner in crime. Your husband, your Mum, your bestie – whoever, really, that you can count on when you need them most. To run and get you a coffee, to cook you a meal, or just to be the sympathetic ear at the other end of the phone. Surround yourself with one or more people who will really, truly be there to do things (not necessarily business things) to help you out. The people who give REAL help.
I also decided a long time ago which things in my life were negotiable and which were not. I could deal with a messy house but I could not deal without food (I love to both cook and eat, and I think family dinner time is really important) so I prioritised the things which were not negotiable and either outsourced or mostly ignored the non-essential, negotiable stuff! (This is why I have dusty shelves. I can live with that.)
In writing all this down, I left out quite a lot of detail – because otherwise this would go on for about ten pages, but I did want to give you a good idea of what actually is achievable in a week. So, in a nutshell, this is what my week looks like:
- Up early enough to drop my son off at the early bus, then get to the gym so I can be home, showered, and organised in time to start my webinar with Sharon!
- Race home and do lots of little jobs on my way to the shower – shove a load of laundry on, clean up breakfast messes, give the poor dog a pat, and eventually shower.
- Hold the webinar then head out to the shop for usual Monday admin: answering voicemails, replying to emails which came in over the weekend, checking stock levels and paying wages and bills.
- Meet my mentor for lunch. We do this once a month and not only is it cheaper than therapy, it reminds me of the importance of having someone else look at my life and business and give me some insight and support.
- Cook dinner for everyone: mealtimes as a family are non negotiable, so I cook a fresh meal almost every night of the week. As a chef, I don’t find this hard to do and I’m pretty quick at it.
- Catch up on a bit of work admin which didn’t get done because I went out to lunch
- Drop of one kid at netball, one at Girl Guides, and convince kid #3 to do some homework
- More chores – get that laundry into the dryer, email my Mum, start to plan the kids’ birthday parties!
- Write a blog post, and do blog admin: set up social media posts, email off interview requests, edit posts, check stats and plan new features.
Morning and Afternoon:
- Take the boy to the bus and then gym again, then out to the shop. Tuesday is a big admin day for me as it’s when I do all my ordering of ingredients and stuff like boards and styrofoams. I also do our “make and bake” list so staff know what’s happening this week, write out invoices, reply to emails, process orders for naked cakes and edible images, and work like crazy all day to prepare for the rest of the week!
- I also do family admin at lunchtime on Tuesday – RSVP to kids’ events, make their doctor appointments, pay our family bills, book in cars for service (etc!)
- Head off to an appointment with the accountant – which I’m not looking forward to at all, but which falls into the category of things I have to do but I outsource because I’m not very good at it!
- Back at the shop I’m answering the phone, taking new orders, planning our Easter and Mother’s Day range of products, and double checking to be sure I didn’t miss anything which needed to be ordered or sourced ahead of this week’s orders
- Kids have religion lessons after school, so I race in while that’s happening to cook dinner
- Head back to the shop to teach a private lesson about piping for 3 hours
Morning and Afternoon:
- Yep, back at the gym again after bus drop off! I mostly go to save my sanity and to justify eating as much chocolate as I do.
- Staff are working today baking and making icings and ganaches, so I hop into the kitchen to chat and catch up on news. I also make most of what is on my “make” list in fondant – stars on sticks, figurines, numbers for the tops of cakes, flowers. Whatever needs doing which is non-baking and the others don’t like doing but I love (the fiddly bits!)
- Pick kids up at the bus, drop them home and get dinner started (prep the vegetables, that sort of thing) before heading out with my daughter to get her hair cut.
- Drop off my daughter at the hair dressers and make a quick run to the pet shop to buy some kibble, then back around again to pick up my daughter. I also book in and advance pay for the other kids’ appointments.
- We’ve got a friend who comes to dinner every Wednesday night, so I come home to get the rest of dinner sorted before she comes over.
- Have a great night with my friend, kids and hubby – I love Wednesday nights as they are my time to not think about work at all, but instead just laugh a bit and watch Project Runway! (which is pretty much the only TV I’ll watch all week) My friends are very important to me, so I make spending time with them a priority.
- Early bus drop off, but no gym as Thursdays are prep day at the bakery. Head straight to work at what feels like a crazy hour to be awake and get stuck in: ganaching cakes, working on more figurines or getting done whatever is on the Thursday prep list! Thursdays are an incredibly busy day in the bakery as it’s often a day when people come in for appointments, come in to drop off wedding cake toppers, wander in to place an order, or ring. Thursday is a very go-go-go sort of day and I rarely have time to take a breather!
- Take a quick break to organise a ride for my son to get to Scouts as I won’t be able to do it tonight, and check my diary to see what is coming up for the weekend so I can plan the logistics of kids activities and cake deliveries.
- I get home early so I can have dinner cooked and ready for the kids, since I’ve got to meet hubby at school by 6:30. The joy of triplets is that this year I’ve got 27 teacher interviews to go to! I hop in the car and get stuck in traffic, so hubby starts the 3 and a bit hours of interviews without me. I finally get there (only missed 2 interviews) and he and I spent hours listening to teachers tell us our kids are pretty damn awesome (woohoo!) In between teacher appointments I’m stuffing the free cookies in my mouth, having realised I forgot to eat lunch – and I’m answering texts from the kids who are at home but needing homework help.
- Finally get home – having sent hubby to pick up the Boy Scout – and sit down to eat dinner. All five of us have a chat about a whole mess of stuff: what happened at school, what the weekend looks like, and what the kids need me to do for them. It’s nice, actually, that even though it’s only me and hubby eating, the kids sit with us and entertain us with their pre-teen stories which are “totes amaze!”
- I take a few minutes to write the menu for Friday’s dinner and set the table, do a little bit of prep for the cooking, and then fall asleep while hubby tries to explain the plot line of one of his SciFi shows to me.
- Another early start, as on Fridays I like to get out as quick as I can and Fridays are another busy day! Every Friday night I host a family dinner party and we usually have about 14 people, so it’s easier if I can start work early and get out early enough to do the last minute preparations.
- Cake, cake, cake, cake all day mixed with phone calls and customers coming in. I ignore email on Fridays – no time to sit and reply when there are cakes which need covering!
- Dinner party night – which is every Friday. I race home from work to take my son to basketball practice, then race back to finish cooking and preparing as everyone usually arrives around 6:45. I’m very lucky that the shop is only a 2 minute drive from home, otherwise all this running back and forth wouldn’t be quite so easy!
- Hubby does the majority of the clean up after our Friday night dinners, but I help as much as I can before having a good cuddle and chat with the kids and then basically passing out by 11pm.
- The shop is open from 9:30-12:30 but I’m out the door by 7:45 to take my daughter to netball. I watch her game, take her home, then head to the shop. I double check all the orders to make sure no details were missed, and then spend my morning with people picking up, seeing a few clients for appointments, and where possible answering emails. Sometimes on Saturday I’ll bake off a few naked cakes as well, if there have been last minute requests. While all of this is happening, hubby is taking my other daughter to her maths tutor, and our son to his basketball game.
- I prep for my afternoon class, which is a private cookie decorating class from 1-4pm. I love teaching but it’s hard when it eats into my weekend like this. Usually I try to only teach once a fortnight, this week I had two in one week!
- Hubby pops in to grab the orders which need delivering and he heads off to do those for me.
- I finally clean up after my private class and want head home, but not before realising I can’t! I end up quickly decorating a cake for hubby. He promised a charitable organisation a cake and forgot to remind me about it, so I’ve got to speed decorate it so it’s ready for him to take there.
- I refuse to cook on Saturday nights, I’m just too tired and frankly can’t fathom the dishes let alone the cooking! We all head out for Japanese at my favourite local restaurant. The kids convince us (not that it was hard) to have frozen yoghurt on the way home. I eventually fall into bed around 10, tummy and heart full.
- I’m up at 9:30 to meet a friend at the beach – where we head out for a 3 hour walk along the water. It’s exercise but it doesn’t feel like it because we are so busy chatting, and we stop for a coffee and share a muffin half way through our walk.
- Kids are doing homework, hubby is having a lie in – but if I weren’t out walking, we’d probably be at the library, doing housework, or the kids would be hanging out with friends.
- I’m home by 1:30 but out again soon after – we’ve got supermarket shopping to do (easy because I meal plan, so list writing only takes a few minutes) and my son needs some new clothes (he’s 12 years old and 5’10”!). Off we go – hubby and girls to the supermarket, me and my son to buy some clothes and shoes. We reward ourselves with a coffee and treat – and the kids laugh (as they always do) at my preferred snack: an iced coffee and a gingerbread man. I refuse to believe that 38 is too old to be eating a gingerbread man!
- Usual Sunday night crazy of making sure the school uniforms have been washed, the lunchboxes are not disgusting, and that the grown ups also have clean clothes for the next day! David is in charge of dinner on Sunday nights, which usually means something quick and easy – all five of us pile onto the couch with a yummy pasta to watch a movie. The kids complain that I’m too busy playing on my phone rather than watch the movie, but I find I simply don’t have the attention span for TV these days.
And on Monday… it’s back to the gym and the madness begins again! What isn’t obvious from this week is that I really try to make the time for friends, for relaxing, for reading (I read every night before bed) and spending one-on-one time with my husband (the most patient and tolerant man on earth.) Both my husband and I also volunteer our time to a few organisations – not as much as either of us might like, but there are only so many hours in the day! My life is full, absolutely – but as the old cliché goes, “if you want something done, ask a busy person!”
When it comes right down to it, my life owning a bakery, writing a blog, and running a household is about two things: being great at logistics and maintaining a sense of humour. I make sure my kids and my husband are loved, and fed (in that order!). Anything else is just a bonus – and someday I’m sure my attention span will get long enough for me to watch an entire episode of something, right?