How I created a freedom business and juggle it with motherhood and endless wanderlust
They say you can’t have it all but combining the adventure of motherhood with doing a job I love and travelling a lot is what it “all” looks like to me.
Do freedom and business go together? Hell yeah! I feel so lucky to be living in the Internet age, where creatives all over the world are ripping up the rule books and creating awesome, sustainable business that make a profit and do good too. I love the fact that we don’t have to be bound to a 9-5 and it’s perfectly possible to earn a decent living doing something you love.
What does a freedom business look like?
There are so many different interpretation of freedom. For some people, the opportunity to be a “digital nomad”, travelling and working online is the goal. Maybe your heart desires to make the most of your creative talent and you know you can use the internet to grow a loyal tribe of clients. For others (like me), it’s a great time to wave goodbye to the businesses (run mainly by men) who don’t want to support you once you become a mother. I know from my own experience and others that this is too often the case.
But lucky for us, thanks to this global movement, the internet and a load of trailblazing creatives. Hello Mother Pukka and her Flex Appeal, hello Emma Gannon and her multi-hyphen message, hello all the super-talented creators-business owners inspiring thousands of others to do the same, who inspire me every day.
I absolutely love creating, writing, educating others and I have a ton of life experience that I know I can use in positive ways. For me, a freedom business looks like getting paid to do something I love and that doesn’t feel like work.
My vision for Palm Creative Tribe is simple: To inspire people to create a business for themselves. A space to learn and grow in confidence as they transform their lives and, in the future, a place where they can buy cool stuff and I can give back to charity. And I want to be able to run it from wherever I want in the world, because giving my girls memories and experiences to last a lifetime is my ultimate goal.
When life got tough, I learned to live for experiences
Over the last 18 months we’ve travelled to fifteen countries, twelve of those were in Europe in our campervan (her name is Annie, you can check out our Instagram feed @ruthie_ontheroad for our travel pics). She is bright yellow and yes she is absolutely part of the family. We also managed to squeeze in a few long-haul trips to Vietnam, Thailand and Morocco too.
In the last year alone, we have created literally thousands of memories, we invested a significant amount of time and money in travelling, because let’s face it, if time runs out, all anyone is left with are memories. I know from experience that happy, heart-filled family memories are what gets you through the hurricane force of emotions that grief serves up when you are least expecting it.
I don’t think any of us will forget camping wild on the most amazing, horseshoe-shaped ocean beach in the magical, mystical land that is Galicia, surrounded only by a handful of surfers and other van dwellers. Sleeping with the sound of the wild Atlantic crashing around us and waking up to have the beach literally all to ourselves was pretty seismic. Or a day this summer when we parked up at Lake Garda and hired a speed boat for the day, buzzing around the deep blue lake, stopping only to drop anchor and dive into the blue (and check the football; this was the day of England’s first match against Columbia).
Equally unforgettable was hiking in the intense summer heat of the Alps to get a view onto a trio of Swiss mega-mountains, all around 4,000 metres and just thinking “WOW!” We also loved chasing waterfalls and swimming in the incredible Krka Falls in Croatia, land of epic sunsets, turquoise water and mysterious mountain ranges.
Or how we laughed with joy languishing with best friends on a canal boat in Amsterdam (there is definitely a boat theme going on here). And I cannot forget the magic of swimming in ice cold Slovenian lakes and toasting marshmallows by a fire whilst watching the nightly rituals of thousands of fireflies attracting their mates.
And you know what, I don’t feel remotely guilty about all this because of one reason. The time is now! Sadly, I’ve been through some really hard times (you can read about those hard times here) with my breast cancer journey and loss of my parents to know this. There is no forever, there is no time like the present. Indulge in all the stuff you love with the people most dear by your side.
When we chat with people we meet travelling, they are usually goggled eye when they ask how long we are away for, and even more so when we say we’ve taken the kids out of school a bit to travel so much. They usually start by saying something like “how long are you guys on holiday for?” and when we tell them we are away for 3 months they are like, “whaaaat?!” They always ask how we fund it, find the space and time to do it and how we don’t kill each other living in such a small space together. Then they usually end by saying how chilled we all are, which is true because life on the road is definitely more simple and stress-free than our happy-but-busy home life.
Balance is literally everything
Balance is critical to support our family life. We have to be intentional about how we spend our time. There’s work time, family time, campervan time, travel time, screen time and non-screen time.
Daily life in a campervan is busy – there is a lot of work to do to turn our van into a home every night, and back into a van every day. Breakfast takes time, time to source food, time to cook it and time to find somewhere to wash it. But we take huge pleasure in simple every day tasks like washing up and laundry. To us, these things done outside are beautiful and simple and slow and it’s good for us to lose ourselves in that when we are on the road. Plus, it makes coming back to our home more magical because after 3 months in a van, having a bed and a dishwasher and a shower makes us feel home is like a beautiful high-end hotel!
When we travel we try and spend quality time with no screens for much of the day. Reading together, playing cards, exploring and hiking are what we love to do. At home family life is busy and full-on with constant parties, play dates, sleepovers and activities and we just kind of give ourselves in to that. We love to snuggle up together in our small but beautiful house in front of the fire and it’s a nice balance knowing the next trip is never far away.
We spent the last two and a half years living in Barcelona, and both me and my husband Tony would love to travel full-time, and home school the kids. However, they really love school life and so we make sure we balance term time at school with lots of weekend trips away and make sure we can travel for every minute of the school holidays (of which we get 16 weeks in total). It really is possible to do this, as I tell my clients you need to dream big, plan smart and then work with your heart to make it happen.
I set and stick to boundaries
When I’m writing and working, I get pretty focused pretty quick. The second I get back from the school run my head clears itself from homework, book bags, school forms and packed lunches) to what I need to do that day, and that last right up until around 3pm. After that I try and just focus on the kids, taking pleasure in swapping my busy to-do list for playground tales and playdates.
I’ve also experimented recently with ‘screen-free Sunday’s’ for ALL. The idea is that we spend Sunday (wherever we are) focusing on each other, playing games, talking, painting, reading and listening to music.
Another boundary we have is to make a lot of time for down time. When we travel that looks like carving out at least two days a week to have no plans, no activities. It’s great when our do nothing day falls on a rainy day and we can sit inside the van watching the rain fall and listening to music and playing cards. These experiences are just as special as the “big moments” like watching my kids faces when they see the Eiffel tower for the first time.
Weekends are for family, friends and good times
When you run a small business, it’s waaaay to easy to get sucked in to thinking you need to be online all the time. Because, #thejuggleisreal. You are an accountant, a social media manager, a sales person and a do-er of whatever it is you do. There’s always more social you should be doing, a newsletter to write, photos to edit. But what I have found is that if you peel away time and safeguard it to be with your loved ones, you get even more productive when you get back to your work.
For this reason, and others, we really try and keep weekends laptop-free zones. There are the odd times if the kids are with friends or watching a movie that we might work a little, but generally weekends for us are about managing the kids incredibly busy social lives, long, lazy brunches with friends and cooking and movie watching. In fact one of our weekend days is often spent entirely in pyjamas. Who’s in on that?
Carve out morning routines that work for you
Our morning routines are very different when we are in the van compared to at home during term time, but it is still useful to create little routines that set you up for the day. It’s about doing whatever makes you feel good and prioritising it.
School days are for us, like most other families, a mad house of stained uniforms, last-minute homework arguments, cat fights, hair styling and cheerios all over the sofa. So my morning routine has to before all that or post-school run. In the summer it’s great to get up super-early and do some yoga to start the day. When we travel it’s more about a bit of family reading time over a leisurely breakfast. My big goal for the rest of this year is to get back into a morning routine which starts the day with alternating a quick run and podcast listen or yoga and chilled music.
I’m so interested to know what does a freedom business would look like to you? Is it already designed in your head? Maybe you’re already doing it? Let me know where you’re at, I’m super interested to hear other stories about freedom businesses.
Clarity + Chemistry Launching June.
Fall in love with your business and book more dream clients.
Clarity + Chemistry is a group programme, with 6 weeks of topics + assignments PLUS 6 months of accountability and support, that helps you find chemistry within your business so that you can raise your vibe and your dream clients FLOCK to you! I cannot wait to share it with you and watch you grow. Sign up here if you want early release info…