Calling it quits is hard. But I think being honest and admitting that it’s time to throw in the towel is even harder. I’ve decided to shut down our online store, Jax in the Box. It all boils down to the fact that it takes away too much quality time from my family. And, as much as I love that our store provides other families great toys and gear at affordable prices, the price of running it is proving too costly for mine.
If you’ve followed this blog, you know that I try to be honest about my mom struggles because I believe it normalizes the fact that parenthood, marriage, heck — adulthood, is hard. So, I’ll share a bit about how I made this really tough decision because maybe it’ll resonate with you, or normalize something you’re wrestling with.
I started Jax in the Box almost exactly one year ago (see this post for that story). My husband and I agreed that after a year we’d re-evaluate and see if we wanted to continue. We’ve reached that year mark.
Time, Time. I Need More Time.
Over the past 12 months, I worked like a dog, learned a lot, and slept very little. As a stay-at-home mom, my working hours are nap time and evenings (more like the wee hours of the morning). While working hard comes naturally to me, I quickly realized that I’d taken on two jobs that required full-time hours to be done well. And there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
It has become clear that, for Jax in the Box to reach the next level, I’d have to put Jax, my 2-year old, in daycare. But, I am incredibly blessed to not have to contribute significantly to my family’s income. (Let me be clear. A second income would be nice. As would a new car, the padded savings account, and the family vacations it could buy. But, we’ve decided to live without those luxuries.) And, I made the decision after the twins were born nine years ago to do whatever I could to make sure my husband and I were their primary caregivers until they entered school. That, combined with the fact that I had some pretty horrible day care experiences as a child (like my in-home day care provider literally biting me as a punishment for biting her own kid when I was four — I’m not kidding), meant I wasn’t going to consider day care.
Okay, let me digress for a second. I think day care is a great and valid option for a plethora of reasons, and I in no way believe that kids shouldn’t be in day care. In fact, I’m thankful that many women choose to work because we need moms in the workforce who understand child rearing, women’s needs, etc. It’s just something I am not choosing for my kids.
And not choosing day care and not staying up all hours of the night simply means that I literally do not have enough time to run a successful store. As sole product lister, product buyer, blogger, order filler, order deliverer, marketer … I just have too many hats to wear. Hiring help requires cash flow that I can’t work enough to generate. It’s a Catch-22. I can’t work enough to generate the profitability to hire help. But I need to hire help to build a more successful business.
The Disappearing Joy of My Mom Role
And this is the big one. Because I used every spare second to work the business, I only made time to complete the absolutely necessary tasks that come with my mom/keeper-of-the-home role. My kids were clean, fed, and my house wasn’t a pigsty. I was doing only those things that I really hate about my mom role. I’ve shared with you before, I don’t like cooking, and I don’t like cleaning. But these basic duties were the only things I had time for.
I no longer made time to actually be with my kids. I didn’t watch movies during family movie night because I was busy listing new products while everyone else cuddled on the couch. I skipped baseball games because it was the only time I had a babysitter (aka my husband). I didn’t talk to my boys about their day in the evening because as soon as they were fed, I’d get them busy with independent activities so I could have a date with my computer.
As the year went on, I realized that I’d relinquished the things I really enjoy about my mom role to Jax in the Box.
I started to think only about when I could sleep next. I found myself being very short with my kids because my tank was empty. I found myself becoming resentful when asked to help with homework because I needed to list new products or write a fresh press release. Over time, I was becoming someone I didn’t recognize, nor like very much.
Jax in the Box or Bust
Not only was I relinquishing what energized me in my mom role, I quickly realized that my two full-time jobs meant I couldn’t be an active community member. I enjoy volunteering at my kids’ school and being active in social causes I believe in. I no longer had time for either. And when I did wear my community member hat, Jax in the Box suffered.
So, in the end I’ve had to re-evaluate what’s important to me. Yes, what we provide families is important. Yes, I love the intellectual stimulation that comes from learning something new (let’s face it stay-at-home momhood can be so boring!). And yes, I love the satisfaction that comes from starting something and watch it grow. But, like so many women, I’ve learned I really can’t have it all. I can’t do all of these things and feel good about my efforts in each arena. Something has to give. And with a new baby on the way, I’m being honest with myself and admitting that things need to change at Jax in the Box.
One of my pastors once said, “Sometimes you have to say no to the good, so you can say yes to the great.” As such, I’m saying no to our store and yes to being present with my family. (If you’ve shopped with us, you probably know we are running an amazing sale on most of our inventory.) I really enjoy blogging and will publish new blog content and Facebook posts that focus on all things mom and family. (You’ll soon find the blog at jaxinthebox.com.) And I’m sure I’ll find other ways to support moms in their mom role because I think ours is the hardest job on Earth. Whether it be blog posts, TV spots, community talks, or just hosting playgroups, I know I won’t simply retreat into my own family. It’s just not who I am. But what I do next will demand less compromise from them. Because, while I still have littles at foot and lunches to pack, they are my number one job.
It’s hard to call it quits. It’s hard to not see something I started reach its potential because I choose not to put in the blood, sweat and tears. But, in the end, I’m making the right move for us. I struggle a bit with a sense of failure – not something I’m used to feeling. Failing at my business adventure has more bearable consequences than looking back after my kids have grown and wishing I’d been there more — really been there with my full heart and attention.
If you want to come over and play, let’s arrange a play date. I have plenty of toys to go around.