No one said it was going to be easy – but with compromise and imagination (and a microwave), you can find time for family.
Women can have it all, say technicians and salon owners, but they’re learning they can’t do it all. Although still juggling a career, children, and a husband, the perfection-driven Superwoman of the ‘80s is maturing into the moderate woman of the ‘90s, and she’s a lot more comfortable dealing with all her conflicting roles.
Today’s working mother doesn’t feel as guilty about ordering pizza or other fast foods occasionally to feed her family. She doesn’t feel incompetent if her house is messy. She’s more apt to postpone laundry or other household chores in order to spend a few extra hours with her children, husband-or alone.
Day-care and after-school programs are also improving, according to many technicians, and even husbands are more willing to pitch in and help. While most women complain they’re still expected to do more housework than men, they say working in the nail industry allows them a lot more flexibility than other fields.
“It’s not like having a 9-5 job where you always have to be there.” Says Linda Zimmerman a technician at The Clip Joint in Bailey, Colorado, and the mother of four. “I tried a lot of other jobs. I even drove a bus for a while. But as a nail technician I can mark myself off the books if my children need me and arrange my schedule around school and other activities.”
Another advantage to working in the nail industry is being able to work close to home or even at home When New Mexico technician Angela Gomez found it increasingly difficult to work in a salon and care for her children, ages 6 and 10, she decided to transform a portion of her house into a salon. Fully licensed by the state board of cosmetology, Gomez’s shop has its own bathroom and waiting area with beverages and a television. An answering machine assists with receptionist duties, and a detailed appointment book helps her schedule a full-time client load while attending her family’s needs.
“Sometimes it gets hectic running back and forth to and from school, doing errands, and working on clients,” Gomez says, “but working at home allows me to book clients around my kids’ after school activities. It also allows me the flexibility to work holidays. That’s when my clients take preference over my family and instead of cooking a turkey, I close the door and do nails.”
ORGANIZE AND DELEGATE
If today’s busy nail technician has a motto, It’s Organize and Schedule. “It takes time management to get through the week,” says Chris Haubruge, mother of two and owner of Classic Cuts in Mojave, California. “Otherwise I’m always falling behind and feeling pressured.” To save endless trips to the grocery store, for example, Haubruge plans her meals for the week on Sundays and shops on Mondays, her day off.
Organization has also helped Brenda Krasovec, owner of Special Effects in Hemet California, find time to operate her salon, care for her two daughters, ages 7 and 11, and attend college. Since her husband owns a hair salon in the same shopping center as her nail salon, Krasovec coordinates their schedules so that one of them is usually home with the children.
“You have to get your priorities straight as to what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to do it,” Krasovec says. “But it’s also important to make sure your kids aren’t always home alone and that you leave time for fun. There has to be a balance between your job and family.”
To maintain that balance, many technicians schedule appointments as early as 6 a.m. and work until 3 p.m., when they take a late lunch break to meet the school bus or chauffeur children to after-school activities. To complete their work day, these industrious technicians schedule clients in the evening after dinner, when they know their husbands or friends can watch the kids.
But regardless of how well a working mother plans, there are always unexpected problems, like when a child gets sick. Although most technicians say their clients are understanding, it can be hard to find someone to stay home with a sick child.
“Usually my husband or I stay home, “ Krasovec says, “depending on whose salon in slower that day. But there have been times when I’ve brought my kids to the shop until I could get free. I’ve even had a few trustworthy clients take one of my ill children home for a few hours. Overcoming a problem takes a team effort.”
For Krasovec, this team effort includes a husband who offers a lot of help and respects her position as a salon owner. “Men will never do as much as we do,” Krasovec says, “but things work a lot better when they do their share. My husband helps a lot, watching the kids, marketing, planning meals. It would be hard to get along without him.”
But other working women aren’t as lucky and admit that their husbands’ expectations are unrealistic. “They want the paycheck, but they also want a hot meal when they come home,” says one technician.
Haubruge agrees. “Children are easy, but husbands can be a problem. I’m lucky because my husband is very supportive of my work. But I’ve seen other technicians whose husbands are not supportive-and it’s hard for them. They enjoy their work and trying hard to build a clientele, but they are constantly pulled in different directions. That leads to a lot of stress.”
Besides relationship pressures, some technicians report that money can create problems- especially for new technicians and single women trying to support their family on one income. Zimmerman, for example, works on commission and has been trying to build a steady clientele for the past year and a half.
“When I have a slow week, things can get pretty tight because we need my income to buy food,” she says. “I could try to find a job in the city where I could make more money (and my husband sometimes reminds me of that), but working here, I’m only a phone call away, or a few minutes’ car ride if one of my children needs me. And I don’t have day-care expenses. I also love my job, and I know that if I hang in here another year or so, I’ll be doing a lot better.”
Money is also a problem for Diana Ulch, a technician and single parent of two young children, ages 4 and 7. In order to pay her house rent, plus monthly booth rental in a Florida salon, she has had to work 10 to 12 hours a day. “It just wasn’t worth it,” Ulch says. “I never had time to see my kids.”
To rectify the problem, Ulch started teaching classes for a nail manufacturer. “That helps,” she says, “but I still have to pay my way to most of the shows and hope that I’ll win a competition to cover the cost. I also work on clients at home sometimes to pay the bills. But I’m hoping to move to California and get a full-time job to relieve some of the pressures.”
CLIENTS CAN BE GREAT SUPPORT
While being a single parent is extremely difficult at times, Ulch says client are helpful and kind. “One client sold me a discount airplane ticket so I could attend a show,” she says,” Another client gave me her frequent flyer voucher for a free rental car. Then there was last Christmas, when the temperature dropped to about 18 degrees and I had this outrageous electric bill. One of my clients actually gave me a $ 100 tip!”
Many technicians talk about how giving and generous their clients are. Some offer to babysit, while others give advice. Haubruge says that when her children were young she often felt guilty because she had to sacrifice time with them in order to build a clientele. She says a lot of her money went to pay for day-care, and her schedule was hectic. “But I learned from my clients that guilt comes with parenthood,” she says. “Women who didn’t work and stayed home with their children told me they still felt guilty about certain things they did. I guess we all want our children to be perfect and have everything we never had a chance to do. But my clients taught me that it’s important to let that guilt go and just do the best you can.”
One way to fight guilt feelings is to squeeze more time out of every day to spend with the family. Some women find that involving their children in cooking, shopping, even folding laundry allows more time for talking and can lead to closer relationships. “When my kids were younger, there was this railroad crossing we had to pass on the way to school every morning,” Haubruge says. “It seemed that whenever we were in a rush we always had to wait for that stupid train. But one day, instead of getting tense, I took a deep breath and used the time to visit with my kids. Talking became routine, and I began to look forward to those five minutes.”
Besides spending time with little ones, working women admit that it’s equally important to schedule time alone with your husband. “A late dinner, a movie, it doesn’t take much,” Haubruge says. “My husband and I get up early on Saturday and Sunday mornings and spend about 40 minutes walking. It’s not only good for us aerobically, but it’s a special time for us to spend together. Every relationship needs time alone to grow, and it’s important for your children to see that. A good relationship between the husband and wife can bring the whole family closer.”
While every technician or salon owner has to work on reaching a healthy balance in her life, everyone agrees that it is becoming a lot easier for women to have it all. As for doing it all- that’s another story. Everyone we interviewed said that cleaning the house, doing laundry and other household duties are often delayed so moms can spend more leisure time with their families.
“Sometimes I hear technicians say, ‘This is the price we have to pay to have it all,” Krasovec says. “And they try to do too much. That attitude might be fine for a while, but five or 10 years down the road their marriage breaks up or their kids flip out, and they wonder why they did it. But if you work to they did it. But if you work to establish a balance between your work and family, then everything will turn out fine.”
Haubruge says it also helps to try and focus on the important things and tune out the rest. “There are only so many hours in a day.” She says. “I try not to stay up too late doing laundry or other chores. Like the other day, for example. My son had a basketball game and he didn’t have any clean white jeans, so he wore mine. At first he complained that someone would notice they were girl’s jeans, but nobody did and it worked out fine. You just have to learn to adjust.”
With four children, a husband, and a busy nail career, Zimmerman agrees that working women have to adjust to life’s little crises. “No matter how hard you try, there are always things that are forgotten,” she says. “Somebody doesn’t get their hair washed one day, someone else may not get a pair of new shoes right away. But I’ve learned there’s always tomorrow. And if we don’t get it done tomorrow, I tell my kids to keep nagging me until it does get done. I do my best to get all the important things accomplished through, like rocking each of the younger kids on my lap and giving them special time. To love your kids and let them know it-that’s what really counts.”