Meet the #motherhustlers: Keri Lawrence
Keri is a Wife, Mom, Educator, Part-Time Grad Student, Frugalista, Blogger, Disney Enthusiast, and Foodie.
She earned a Communications degree with an emphasis in Journalism in 2006, and also went to culinary school part-time before having her first child in 2011. Originally born and raised in Pennsylvania, she and her husband, Nate, spent 8 years in Indiana before trading in snow for palm trees and officially becoming Floridians. She has been married to her husband, a high school math teacher, for almost 11 years.They have two kids, Josiah (age 6) and Jessie (age 4).
During the summer months, Nate works at Disney as a lifeguard, and the family is frequently found at Walt Disney World. She decided to mesh all of her skills together to bring FlipFlopWeekend to life. It’s a place to share Florida travel tips, Family Fun ideas, recipes and a whole lot of Disney advice!
Tell us about yourself, your business, and how you got started!
My name is Keri and I live just outside of Orlando, Florida with my husband and two kids, a 6-year-old boy, and a 4-year-old girl. I created and run FlipFlopWeekend, a blog dedicated to Florida Fun, Food, and Family. I offer travel tips for Central Florida activities (and a whole lot of Disney advice)!
By day, I work as a school counselor, but actually have a degree in Communications ( with an emphasis in Journalism). When we moved to Florida, my husband, who is a high school math teacher, became a lifeguard in the summer at Walt Disney World and we became annual passholders who go frequently. I would get so many questions from family and friends for travel tips, that it just dawned on me one day to start a blog to house my information in one central place.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I didn’t actually start out with the idea of it becoming a business. Like I said, I have a background in writing, journalism, and communications.
However, I still used to be one of those who somewhat snickered at the thought of blogging as being a legit job. I remember the days of Xanga and early social media and still had that mindset a bit even when I started. My site was just going to be a place for me to house my information. But then, as I fully dove in to do the research on how to be successful, I could see how far blogging has evolved and how influential it can be in the area of marketing and sharing information.
When I started FlipFlopWeekend, I dove in head first and just did a lot of learning as I went (I still am). It takes a ton of time, but I love it. So, the realization that this can be a business that I have full control over, and could actually make enough money to work from home, is so exciting to me. Right now, it’s just a side business, but I am hopeful that it will eventually be my full-time gig. I would love to set my own hours and have the flexibility to design my own days.
What struggles do you face when it comes to balancing your work and family and how do you deal with them?
Exhaustion is my biggest struggle. I have a lot on my plate at all times. It’s a huge juggling act. Not only am I a mom of two young kids, but I work full-time as a school counselor, run the blog, and actually attend grad school online part-time.
There are a lot of days that I don’t feel like there is balance. I sleep very little and drink a lot of coffee!
However, my kids always come first and I am lucky that my work and family gets to intertwine all day. My kids attend the same school that both my husband and I work at, so I have the blessing of being able to see them at intervals during the day and can adjust my day job schedule to be available for their classroom activities. My graduate program is in an area that I am already doing in my job, so it hasn’t been too challenging.
I tend to not work on grad school or do the grunt work on the blog until after they go to bed, but I am usually up until well past midnight. My husband is AMAZING and takes on a lot of housework roles so that I can be mommy when I need to be mommy and work on the computer when I need to be working.
I have had to learn to show myself a lot of grace. I tend to have a longer to-do list each day than what can possibly get done.
I have just learned to not compare myself to other bloggers who get to work on their blogs all day every day, and am okay if the end goal takes a little longer to reach because I have several commitments I need to focus on. I can easily be a workaholic, so it’s been a huge step for me to just tell myself that it’s okay to veg for an hour to read for fun… because I need that recharge time to keep up with everything I have going on.
What do you think is the secret to raising a healthy business and a healthy family?
I think one secret, at least the key for me, is making sure that everyone you live with is on board with your venture.
I know that some gals don’t have the support of their partners and I feel for them because there is no way I could do this without my husband handling things like loading the dishwasher and folding the laundry while I am promoting posts on Facebook. He doesn’t exactly understand everything that I am doing online (he actually doesn’t even have a Facebook account), but he knows it all serves a purpose and is supportive.
And, fortunately, when you run a Family fun/Disney blog, you can do a lot of research while having family time.
The kids just know that when we go to Disney, mommy will stop every 30 seconds to take pictures of something and they get on board with it. My husband gives me a lot of great feedback. The kids have started to learn to take pictures and are always wanting to help take photos or do a recipe for a post. The blog has become a family activity which makes it a lot easier for me to be wife and mom + mompreneur.
So, if possible, don’t keep your family and business separate. Talk about it with your kids and your partner. Make them part of the process. Building a blog as a business is not for the faint of heart and you will have days of feeling burnt out. Communicating with your spouse, and even your kids ( in an age-appropriate way) and having their support is very important.
What is one piece of advice you could give to help other mompreneurs out?
One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was “don’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter 20”
I remind myself of this daily. It is so easy to see other awesome moms rocking it out in their businesses and feeling like you are so far behind. I still struggle with this.
Blogging, and building any business, really takes a lot of work and a LOT of time!
But, you are unique, your business idea is unique, your family dynamic and commitments, financial situation…it’s all unique. So, throw everything you can into your idea and business, learn from others who are ahead of you…. but also show yourself grace and know that you can take time for yourself, even if it means you may take longer to get to where you want to be.
We are moms first, so we have to be our best selves so that we can give our best to our families.
What words of encouragement do you have for your fellow mompreneurs?
Whenever my pageviews are down, or I think of all of the things I need to do to be where I think I should be with my site…I remind myself that my body made two kids, I am building a business from scratch while working full-time and going to school.
When you think of what we moms can get done in a day, it is amazing!
So, just remember that you’re awesome. You’re smart and you are building something that you can be proud of and something that will help your family have financial stability. Keep pressing on because you are setting an amazing example for your kids to work hard and pursue their passions.
Do you have any great / inspiring stories from your own experience that you would like to share?
I wrote a post a while back as an open letter to the mamas planning their Disney vacations and they are so stressed about it. I went on a bit of tangent and was honestly nervous to post it, because I was a Disney blogger doling out tips on how to plan, basically telling them to “chill out. You won’t get to do it all. It’s supposed to be a vacation.”
I went with my gut and posted it. I ended up with several emails, all positive, and one mom said “Thank you so much. You spoke to my soul.” I realized that people were reading, they were caring about what I was writing, and I was in a pretty cool position to be building a platform to positively communicate with people.
Any fun facts you want to share?
I named my blog FlipFlopWeekend for two reasons.
One, as educators, we work long hours ( I don’t get summers off), sometimes not getting home until 5 or 6 p.m. So, I would find myself looking outside at the beautiful Florida weather longing for the weekends.
Secondly, I hate socks. Like…really hate them. I only wear them if I am running ( which is almost never) or wearing boots. Otherwise, I try to wear sandals or flats with liners.
P.S. I recommend Teva’s or Vionics if you want to wear flip-flops all day 😉
Where You Can Find Keri:
Read more about Keri and her Florida adventures over on her blog, FlipFlopWeekend, and follow along with her on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram (and here), and Facebook. Also, make sure you check out her two Facebook groups, Florida Fun Community and Disney Fans and Bloggers Unite!
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