There is no disputing that Dawn Papandrea-Khan has her hands full. With a husband, three wee ones under six years old (and a fourth on the way any day now!), and three small businesses to run, her life is anything but empty—and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I am the type of person that cannot sit at home and do nothing. Taking care of children is definitely hard work and a full time job in itself, but I HAVE to be doing something creative. I have to be moving forward and climbing towards something.” So, what exactly is a day in the life of an extraordinarily busy working mom like? Well, it is extraordinarily busy!
With her husband working nights, Dawn is usually on her own with the kids in the morning, which begins at around 6 A.M. After giving the baby his bottle, she sits everyone down in the living room to watch cartoons while she spends about an hour in her devotion time. As a Christian, this sacred time is essential to Dawn in helping to keep everything in check when the day starts getting bumpy—which it often does for all of us, regardless of how many kids we have! Breakfast comes at around 7:30, followed by a mass clambering to get dressed and ready for school. Just before 9, everyone piles out the door to head off to school. With her oldest two at school for the full day, Dawn is left to run some errands before putting the baby down for his morning nap and switch hats for her professional jobs. “It has been such a blessing for me to be able to work from home and be with my children! Morning nap is a great time for me because I am able to get my client work done.”
Dawn runs three small businesses—a New York-based decorative painting business called Surfaces with Paint, an online virtual assistant business called DPK Virtual Assistant Services, and DPK Graphic Design. “I am extremely passionate about anything that allows my creative juices to flow. Painting was the beginning of that. But, things got a bit slow a few years back for my painting business, mainly because of the economy. I also was not marketing as much as I had been because I had small children at home. I have many years experience doing administrative work and I heard about virtual assistants and how they can work with companies all around the world and are able to do it from home. I got hooked up with a client who is also a painter and she needed some basic website upkeep so I decided that I would do a few hours a week for her. She is the one who introduced me to Twitter, which opened up so many doors of opportunity—90% of my clients come from Twitter now. It has become this snowball effect—referrals, word of mouth, networking, etc. My business would not be where it is today if it weren’t for Twitter!”
“90% of my clients come from Twitter now. It has become this snowball effect-referrals, word of mouth, networking, etc. My business would not be where it is today if it weren’t for Twitter!”
After the baby wakes from his nap and Dawn has put a few hours into her work, the two have lunch together before Dawn sets him up with some toys in her office area and she continues to deal with the business side of her life. At around 1 in the afternoon, he goes down for a second nap. All of this adds up to Dawn getting plenty of work time during the day. However, that won’t last long! With her baby on the way in December, she knows that things may be different with the new arrival. And, she’s ready and willing to make whatever changes need to be made. “Having a schedule to follow is extremely important to me. But, having children you learn to be flexible as well. Things do not always go the way you plan them. That was a tough lesson for me, but I am finally getting it! I am going to enjoy this time, because who knows … this may be our last baby. I don’t want to look back and think, ‘Why did I waste so much time working and not take the time to really enjoy my babies?’”
When naptime is over, Dawn starts prepping for dinner and begins winding down her workday. Her husband picks the kids up from school and everyone is typically home once more at around 3 PM to spend some family time together before an early dinner and their nightly routine, which begins with jammies and an hour of movie time and ends with brushing teeth, reading a book, and praying together as a family. Her husband is a huge help during this part of the day—doing all the cleaning up after dinner, helping to fold the laundry, vacuuming, and straightening up. Basically, spending quality time with the kids and getting the house ready for the next day. By around 7:30 PM it is lights out for all the little ones and hubby, too. “I used to work during this time, but I found that I was getting burnt out. So I decide to set a boundary that I would be off the computer completely by 8:00pm. After I put the kids to bed, I check my email and then go and get some relaxed ME time in. The house is quiet and I read or watch TV. This really rejuvenates me and allows me time to just breathe. No noise, no crying, no questions, no work—just me. I love it! Since I made this change, I have found that I am actually much more productive and alert during the day.”
Although Dawn never intended to be a mom, it seems like God had other plans for her. And now that she is a mother of almost four, she is committed and grateful to being able to do what she does and to being there for her family. Being a mom comes first, followed by being a business owner. “In this day and age, it is necessary that both spouses work. We could not survive without 2 incomes especially in the location that we are in. But even so, I am just grateful to be able to do what I am doing. I like that I am contributing to our family’s financial needs. I like that I can still be around for my children. I like that I can have an outlet for my creativity. So many moms have to do the whole 9 to 5 thing and send their kids to daycare. That could’ve very well been me. So, I just thank God every day that He has allowed me to do what I am passionate about and have the flexibility of working from home.”
When Dawn feels drained by the countless little interruptions in her day or becomes frustrated when she can’t meet a client deadline because of family constraints, she works hard to remember why she is doing what she does in the first place: it is for her family. Being a mom is her true calling; the rest is gravy. “Sometimes I watch my children while they are playing or while they are sleeping and I well up with tears of joy and pride. I am first a mom and then a business owner. Eventually the kids grow up. They will all be in school fulltime and I will have all the time in the world to work. So for now, I have to make sacrifices and take things in stride. I don’t want to rush through this experience because it really does goes by fast. So, now I am not really pushing my business too hard. And I make sure I am not setting unreasonable expectations for myself concerning work. If I cannot get to a project, I don’t beat myself up—I just shoot the client an email and explain and then add the project to my list for the next week. Life goes on. But I do have to say that when I am able to have more time, when the kids are all in school. I am really going to work my butt off, because I see my businesses as being hugely successful, especially when I have more time to devote to growing them more!”
In addition to being a fulltime mom and working three jobs, Dawn Papandrea-Khan is ALSO a blogger. You can find her writings about herself and her life as a busy mom at http://paintermommy.com/.
Thank you Dawn, for sharing your Story with us.
Our Stories and pictures are the sole copyright of their Authors and may not be reprinted or used without their permission.
© 2009 by Tamar Burris and Story of My Life