With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we thought it would be fitting to spotlight a woman who truly inspires us – not just because she’s built a successful online business out of goat milk soap, but also because of the grace and poise she demonstrates as a mother. And with eight children in her charge, that is certainly no easy feat!
PJ Jonas, co-owner of Goat Milk Stuff, has made a couple appearances on our blog before, but this time around, we wanted to get a behind-the-scenes look into her life as a mompreneur.
We wanted to know: What’s her secret to staying sane while wearing these two different hats – mother of eight and business owner. How does she manage to maintain work/life balance? And what are her business tips for other working moms out there? Read on to learn more!
Endicia: We love that every member of your family, including your eight children, plays an important role in the success of Goat Milk Stuff. But running a family business can be tough work! How do you manage to keep everything running smoothly?
PJ: We start early. Not just on a daily basis, although we are often up before sunrise, but in life as well. Long before we started the business, Jim and I trained our children how to work hard together. They’ve always had chores to do, such as taking care of the animals and cooking for the family. They’ve learned a lot along the way and know that working hard is a part of life. Because they are able to work hard without constant supervision (and nagging); we are able to keep things running smoothly as a family.
But there are also periods of time (such as kidding season when we had 72 baby goats born in about a month), where we kick into survival mode – that means keeping the family fed, the goats milked, and the orders shipping out. When the stressful time period ends, we get back to things running smoothly.
Endicia: Your children sound like an impressive bunch! What do you love about being a mom?
PJ: Teaching my children is my favorite (and most frustrating) part about being a mom. And I don’t just mean the homeschooling aspect of things – that’s the easy part. I mean teaching them how to be a loving person who does the right thing, even if it means sacrificing their own desires. When they’re young, we start with the little things. And repeat them over and over and over. But as they grow, I see all those little lessons come to fruition when they act with integrity (doing the right thing when nobody is looking).
That’s my favorite thing as a mom – knowing that because of my efforts, they are children that I can be proud of. I’d love them no matter what they do, but it thrills my heart to watch them make the right decision because of what they have learned from being a part of our family.
And bedtime snuggles. Those are definitely another favorite.
Endicia: Love that! What are some practical tips for balancing work life and being a mother?
PJ: I am not a big fan of multitasking. Instead, I focus on integration. The difference is subtle, but profound. Multitasking involves doing more than one thing at the same time. Multiple studies have shown, however, that our brains are not capable of effective multitasking. Integration, on the other hand, also involves doing more than one thing at the same time, but it links those things together in a coordinated way that amplifies the process.
For example, the children who need practice with fractions help with the cooking. As they measure the ingredients, they are gaining knowledge and the associated experience while they get the meal prep done. Another example is when a child is going through a rough patch and needs more one-on-one time with me. I will often take that child to our local YMCA and walk around the track. That way, they are getting my undivided attention while we also get some exercise time in.
I also find that there are seasons when I spend more time being a mother and times when I spend more time working at Goat Milk Stuff. I don’t necessarily try to balance things out each and every day, but rather look at longer periods of time. I always look back at the previous month and decide if the business is getting too much of my attention. If it is, I determine if the cause was temporary or a new trend I need to alter. If it’s not temporary, I decide what needs to change. That means either reallocating my current resources, adding new resources, or dropping something.Those are tough decisions to make. But I make them because, at the end of the day, my family is the most important.
We recently stopped making a product and I knew that decision would be unpopular with my customers. But it was the right decision for the family because the product was too labor intensive for us to continue. As time passes and I look back, I rarely ever regret when I’ve made tough decisions that put the family first.
Endicia: How do you make time for yourself with your busy schedule?
PJ: Even as important as everything on my list is, I know that I only have 24 hours in a day, so some of it just isn’t going to get done today. Since I know I’ll be more efficient and get more done if I’m healthy and content, I prioritize taking care of myself. Daily individual prayer and meditation are an important part of how we start our days. Jim and I almost always take daily walks together. We usually work out decisions for the business or the family while we’re doing it so it integrates time together with exercise and a business meeting. These uninterrupted times talking together build our marriage. And since we walk pretty fast, we really get the blood and lymph pumping, too. I have a step counter and have a daily goal of 15,000 steps. If I get to the end of the day and I haven’t reached it, I walk around my living room and read a book. I also highly value my sleep and make sure I get to bed on time, even if I still have an unfinished ‘to do’ list. Almost everything can be done tomorrow … or not. I’ve found over the years that if I’m run down, nothing functions well. The business suffers; my family suffers; I suffer. It takes a lot of self-control to not be distracted by the ever-present ‘to do’ list. But for me, taking the time and effort to eat well, exercise, and get sufficient sleep on a daily basis leads to a greater efficiency in everything that I do.
Endicia: Great tips, PJ! Thank you! Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
PJ: I don’t have anything else to add, but Jim mentioned this: “My husband is incredible. Just sayin’!” And that’s a true statement, through and through. I couldn’t do it without him!