To all of you stay at home moms that also bake and decorate cakes at home for extra cash on the side.
how do you manage being a full time mom and self employeed cake decorator also?
please share your best tips, tricks and any advice on what to do or not to do.
Im having a very hard time, In general im a perfectionist when it comes to the decorating and organization aspect. But every time I have a cake to make my 2 year old destroys my house while im making it or destroys parts of my cake. like todays cowboy boot and hat took 2 1/2 hours to make and were destroyed just while i was taking getting a drink of water. I have her pre occupied with the remains after i cut the cakes to layer then and she has a cup of icing to decorate her own little cake but she doesnt sit stil very long. she will be in the living room in no time making another mess. Im cleaning the house that was spotless before i started, for 3 hours after im finally done.
also I see people that are making 2-4 or more cakes a weekend from how. how in the world are you guys doing it. I can barely get one cake done in a day and it is usually makin fondant and buttercream the day before and baking and decorating the next day. takes me 4 hours just to mix and bake 2 pans of 8 inch and 2 pans of 6 in cakes. only thing i could think of is some may bake earlier in the week and freeze to thaw and decorate for the weekend at the end of the week. but i dont want to freeze anything.
please help me fellow bakery moms
Buy more pans so you're not spending four hours on baking 2 8 inch and 2 6 inch cakes.
Also, keep things out of reach of your child. There has to be some shelf in the house that she can't get to (but not on top of the fridge, it's hot up there). Put fragile things where she can't get them.
I think most of us do our decorating while the kids are asleep, when the kids are still young enough to wreak havoc on the house whenever mom's busy. My kids are in school all day now (woohoo! ) so I have a nice chunk of free time every day to do my baking or other projects.
Freezing is fine - it really makes cake better often. I do cake stuff at night, or during daytime naps, and have now cleaned out a shelf in the cupboard for putting decorations while working on them.
In my world, a child can be carried at your back whilst doing some chores. If the child is not too heavy you may try that. You may purchase a baby carrier if you do not have one. Not sure if this will work, our babies get used to being carried from about one month. Another trick I used was to put the baby in cot with play things, if you have enough area to put the cot where you can see it, if it has wheels also.
Putting the cake you are working on where it cannot be reached helps too. My youngest is 6 but I do not take chances. Each time I leave the room I remove my cake from the table to the fridge or shelf. My daughter who is 12 makes fun of me sometimes when she sees me moving cake around just so I can go to the pantry to, say, pick some cutters.
Despite my kids being older, I get more done when they are asleep. Talk of nagging and stuff like that. I go to work and decorate evenings but I must admit that things are lighter though because I have a maid. I put my staff away after caking and leave the dishes for her to wash.
I have to make sure that I have lots of things to distract my little boy while I work on cakes. He's 3 1/2 now, so he's able to understand a lot more. I'll have the tv on with his favorite show, or turn the radio up so he can dance. He'll also get a "special" bucket of toys and sit in the room next to me while I work. I purchased a stainless steel prep table for my kitchen to work at. Its huge so I let him work with a piece of fondant and give him a mat, cutters rollers, etc. It keeps him busy for hours!!!! It was the best idea I've had yet! I'll give him alphabet cutters and we can talk about the letters, what sound they make, what words start with those letters, etc and it becomes a teachable moment. He literally asks EVERY day to work with fondant now.
My son is 2 and I've just started my business (June 2011), and my situation is a little different- I have to use a rented kitchen for my baking, so I'm technically not an "in home" bakery. I still want to dedicate my time to being a stay at home mom though, so I schedule my time around when my husband is home to watch him... Also, I limit what I take on... usually only 1 cake per week. Until he is in school and I have more time to dedicate that is what I'm comfortable with. So, I'm okay with having to grown my business slowly because that is what is right for my family right now. I won't be making much money until I can increase my volume, but for now, I am grateful to be able to charge people so that I can afford to do my hobby!
When he's a little older I might be able to take him with me to my rental kitchen and I think SweetDreamsBoutique has a great idea, I have a mental book mark on that one for if I ever need it!!
I think it's hard to find the balance between work and mommy-hood no matter what your profession!
We sold our baking business (operated out of a rental kitchen) soon after our daughter was born. Operating at a volume that would make it worth the trouble would have involved either paying for daycare or compromising on taking care of our business or our daughter (or both).
i operate out of a rental kitchen so I schedule my time when my husband is available at home to watch my boys. I will bake on a sunday afternoon and freeze, then finish up weekend cakes thursday and friday night after 8 p.m. and the boys are in bed. I also have a limited number of cakes I can take on in a weekend, and when I am at capacity I turn away business. I also will arrange for a babysitter for large order weekend, such as in a few weeks when i have friday and saturday back to back wedding cakes. When i do take on a cake at home, i turn my kitchen over as per state Cottage Food Law guidelines, so no one is in my kitchen or near food being prepared that isn't working on the food with proper health guidelines followed (ie, no uncovered hair, unwashed hands). So that pretty much limits me to working at night.
My youngest are 2 and 4 years old. I am extremely lucky, my mom lives near by and loves to come over and keep an eye on them when I work. If she is not available when I am working on a cake, they usually will play together nearby where I can watch them. They love to make Play-Doh cakes and will keep at it for hours. Of course, there is as big of a mess from them to clean up as there is from my cake, but worth it and then we are all together, I have them in the breakfast table area and I am at the island. There is a lot of stop and start for me to take care of them, but I can still get some baking and icing done. I never leave anything within reach of my 2 year old, the rest know better though.
For the more involved decorating, I wait until after 9pm when all the little ones are in bed or when my older two are home to help babysit.
I never leave it the cake until the last possible minute, I always plan on having it done the day before it is due, so if the kids aren't letting me work, I can at least work at night (though not ideal, it works in a pinch). I also limit the number of cakes I do in a week, try to keep it to 2, but would add in a 3rd if my mom is available for the kids.
It's not easy, but it works.
Naptime is my best friend. I also send my (almost) 3 yr old to pre-school 2 days a week and I work like a mad-woman those days.
The biggest thing is planning so you are not spinning your wheels or wasting the little bit of childless time you have.
I do a lot of my work during nap time lol.
I limit my cakes to a max of 2 per week. When my son was born we also owned a skateboard shop and we found between the 2 ventures it was just too much and we wanted more time with him. We sold the skate shop and I cut my caking down from 3-4 a week to 1. I get the majority of my decorating done during naptime ( when that actually happens ) , when he goes to the bounce house or downstairs to the den to play trains with daddy, and after he goes to bed. If I must get stuff done while he is awake I give him a piece of fondant and a cookie cutter and let him think he's helping. We have had issues, I turned my back once and he grabbed the scissors and cut through the side of a cake, he's taken a swipe at buttercream, and a few other incidents. Now if I have to turn my back, I put the cake up high first. Less time consuming than making repairs. It can be done, it takes some serious scheduling and you do have to limit your business, at least until they understand " don't touch" is a rule and not a request.
my 2 year old doesnt understand the no touch rule yet. and i try to get her to play with fondant but her attention span is so short it works for less than 5 minutes. and if she isnt getting to use the exact same things as me such as my spatchula and the same cutters im using she has a fit. lol she is too smart for her own good. and she doesnt take naps any more. yall are so lucky. I will have to manage doing my stuff once the older kids are home from school to play outside with her or at night and get no sleep. thanks for all of your ideas. the playdough idea may just work. we banned playdough cause we were finding it everywhere from smeared on rugs and couches to clogged in toilets but her sitting next to me may just work as long as she doesnt eat it she always tries to eat the fondant i give her.
My 18 month old son is very curious and loves attention, but he's also addicted to books and watching his letters and numbers video or curious george, so I use them to my advantage when i'm trying to work on a projject.I remember one time I was making fondant and spilled some sugar on the counter top,I turned my back for one second to get a cloth to clean up,when I looked back he was licking the sugar off the table, his face looking all sticky and cute.
I would definitely get a play pen or one of those child safety gates that look like a play yard and put it in front of tv with cartoons and lots of toys and snacks like nilla wafers and cherrios. That should keep her busy for a while.
I find that freezing my cakes a few weeks ahead of time is great, because they are so moist when eaten.
I also heard that you can freeze buttercream frosting.
Just a thought.
It will get easier
Hang in there!
It's a bad idea to teach them that they can play with icing and spatulas that are like yours...if you get them any kitchen toy stuff make sure it's big and plastic and colorful, and looks nothing like your tools. There should be a hands-off policy that you enforce until they're older, because 2 yr olds won't understand that it's okay to touch their icing and spatulas but not yours.
Naptime is great, and evenings after bedtime works too for getting things done. It gets easier once they start school, but you just have to keep a light cake schedule until then unless you have someone to watch them for you. I started doing wedding cakes when my daughter was 1 and my son was 4, but I seriously don't remember when I worked. That was 12 years ago so I can't remember! I do remember that when my son started preschool and I only had 1 at home to deal with it was a HUGE difference.
Age two is a tough age, they still act out of impulse and can't understand why they can't play with these incredibly fun looking cakes!! I learned the hard way with my daughter when I left a cake to the last minute and nearly had a mental breakdown trying to keep her out of the cake! I have learned to organise my time much better and only decorate when they are asleep. Most Thursday and Friday nights I might be up to midnight but I love to do it so it doesn't bother me. Now that she is three she completely accepts she cannot touch and is happy just to admire and look. A cake I made recently she said "Wow mum, thats great! I'm so proud of you!" Best compliment I have ever had. I have come to realise that this is such a short time and I just have to be patient in these years until I can really commit time into a business.