In Search of Autonomy and a Flexible Schedule, Some Vermont Parents Are Leaving the Workforce and Striking Out on Their Own | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Local Guides » Kids VT

In Search of Autonomy and a Flexible Schedule, Some Vermont Parents Are Leaving the Workforce and Striking Out on Their Own

By

Published November 15, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated December 2, 2022 at 8:02 p.m.


Morgan Evarts - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Morgan Evarts

A little over a year ago, I decided to start my own business. After my second child was born and I was confronted with the reality of putting two children through childcare, I realized I wanted a career that allowed me to be home more and that would lessen the rising costs of raising a family. Now, instead of commuting to an office every day, I enjoy doing email marketing, social media management and website design work from home as a freelance marketing consultant.

I'm not alone: Applications for new businesses spiked across the country starting in June 2020, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Prior to the pandemic, there were between 200,000 and 300,000 new business applications each month. Now that number is regularly above 400,000 monthly. In fact, the total number of applications filed in 2021, more than 5.4 million, set a new record. Surely, many of those entrepreneurs are raising children.

There are plenty of advantages to being your own boss and working from home, including setting your own hours and being there for your kids when they need you. For example, I love being able to take Zoom meetings while my children nap. And when my son gets sick and has to stay home from school (again), I can rearrange my plans to handle it.

But there are challenges, too. When I first started my entrepreneurial journey, I was working tirelessly to turn my passion into a business, as well as be a present and involved parent to my two young children, who were mostly home with me. It was tough. I often felt like I was failing at both.

One of the things that kept me going was that I soon met some other parents who were in the same situation. These parent-preneurs were experiencing the same questions and challenges as I was; their social media posts gave me insight, ideas and inspiration. To foster this community of Vermont parents who also have businesses, I interviewed three of them to find out how they balance their time between work and family and what advice they have for parents considering the same path.



Morgan Evarts
is the owner and creator of the Postpartum Pantry. Founded in January 2022, it provides nourishing and hydrating foods and body products for families preparing for and recovering from birth. Morgan runs her business out of her home, where she lives with her husband, Dan, and children, ages 4 and 2. To learn more about Morgan and the Postpartum Pantry, you can visit the-postpartumpantry.com or follow @the.postpartumpantry on Instagram.

Morgan Evarts - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Morgan Evarts

How has being a parent shaped your views on entrepreneurship and business?

I became an entrepreneur after becoming a parent, so I know nothing but the juggle of taking care of kids while trying to grow a business. Sometimes I'm fulfilling orders until I hear a nap end on the monitor and then testing their mood to see if snacks and a show can hold them over until I get my work finished. Sometimes if Daniel Tiger and cheese sticks don't do the trick, then the work simply goes unfinished. I think, regardless of how the day turns out, it's clear that being both a parent and an entrepreneur is a grind!

What has your experience been with navigating childcare in Vermont? How, if at all, did this shift during the pandemic?

Navigating childcare since the pandemic has been quite the journey. Both my husband and I have gone through periods of working from home while simultaneously taking care of the kids. Eventually it became clear that one of us needed to be home full time, as two kids in daycare was not financially sustainable. Once my son was old enough for public school, we could afford to put my daughter in daycare, which gave me time to focus on and grow my business. It took months [to find] a place that we liked and could afford that also had availability. Even with both kids now in full-time care, it is crucial that one of us has flexibility to do early pickups or stay home when school is closed, which is why the schedule of a small business owner was a clear choice for me.

What would you tell other parent-preneurs looking to start their own business?

It's going to be hard, but the rewards will be great. Your kids will be proud of you, and you will be proud of yourself. The entrepreneur community in Vermont is incredibly welcoming, and the resources for us are immense. You got this!



Michael DiBiasio-Ornelas
is a writer and filmmaker and the owner of Last Site Media. He produces independent feature films across genres under Last Site Pictures and publishes independent fiction under Last Site Press. He began his business in 2021 as part of a transition toward a life as a full-time creator. He lives with his wife and 2-year-old in South Burlington. Learn more at lastsiteofmichael.com.
Michael DiBiasio-Ornelas - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Michael DiBiasio-Ornelas
Can you share what a typical workday looks like?
On a typical day, I first work with my wife to get our daughter to daycare. Then I'll ideally spend an hour on some sort of self-care, although that doesn't always happen. The rest of the day gets split between the creative project of the moment — usually a film — and freelance copywriting to help pay the bills. Then it's daycare pickup and family time until the kiddo goes to bed. Maybe two or three nights per week, I'll have to finish up some work at night. It's always a sprint.

How has being a parent shaped your views on entrepreneurship and business?

It surprised me. I previously spent too long at a job that was bad for my mental and physical health, in the years before my daughter was born. I would have guessed that I'd stay even longer, or at least keep working for other people for stability, after becoming a father. Instead, it was more important that she see me embracing the actual life I wanted for myself, no matter how stressful or difficult it can be to live that life.

What are some of the biggest challenges of being a parent-preneur? Biggest joys?

The biggest challenge by far is the bite that health insurance costs take out of our monthly income, because my wife and I are both entrepreneurs at the moment. It's basically a second rent payment. Childcare costs are tough, too. They're basically a third rent payment. The biggest joy is the flexibility. We still struggle with balancing income-generating action with the volatility of a toddler's schedule, but for the most part we feel much more present for our daughter than our parents were able to be due to their jobs.



Maya Burr - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Maya Burr

Maya Burr is an early childhood behavior specialist, licensed clinical social worker and mother of two small children, with over a decade of experience supporting children and families. Maya has also worked in New York City and North Carolina. She opened her private practice in Burlington in 2019 as a parenting consultant working individually with parents of children ages 6 and under, as well as facilitating parent groups and classes. Learn more by visiting mayaburr.com.

Can you share what a typical workday looks like?

Every day is different, which makes things exciting and challenging. My day starts by bringing my toddler to preschool; meeting with parents virtually to help them better understand the emotional needs of their children; preparing for toddler parent groups; working on my children's book, Little Siblings, Big Feelings (out now); [and] taking breaks to exercise and care for my 1-year-old.

What are some of the biggest challenges of being a parent-preneur? Biggest joys?

Childcare and time. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get it all done. I have learned to strive for being "good enough" as a parent, friend and person. I remind myself that leading attachment researchers found that being a "good enough" parent means getting it right 30 percent of the time. The biggest joys are hearing the success stories from the families I work with. There are many, and they keep me going.

What has your experience been with navigating childcare in Vermont? How, if at all, did this shift during the pandemic?

I feel extremely fortunate that my toddler is in the most nurturing and phenomenal childcare program. But I realize that is not the case for many families. During the pandemic, my toddler was home with me. I was working and caring for him. It was rewarding and exhausting. There are so many wonderful schools and centers in Vermont, but we need to adequately support our teachers. They have one of the hardest jobs in the world, and they need to be compensated appropriately for that. Thank you, early childcare educators!

Thinking about becoming a parent-preneur?

Here are some local resources you might find valuable:

  • Score Vermont provides free mentoring and business templates to ensure that you get started on the right foot. Learn more at vermont.score.org.
  • Vermont Womenpreneurs provides both digital and in-person opportunities for women entrepreneurs across the state. Events include monthly Biz Buzz meetups and a yearly summit. Find details at vtwomenpreneurs.com.
  • Vermont Small Business Development Center provides professional expertise and training to small businesses and entrepreneurs at vtsbdc.org.
  • Social media platforms (such as Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook) are great places to connect with and learn about other businesses in your community. I've met countless entrepreneurs from behind my computer or phone and found several ways to connect and collaborate in order to help each other grow!

The original print version of this article was headlined "Meet the Parent-preneurs"