One of the tremendous perks of working for Inspiring Mompreneurs is getting to interview beautiful, humble, kind Mothers who have been through the University of Hard Knocks and now make it their mission to help and support other parents facing similar challenges. Jennifer of Positive Parenting Specialized is one of these Moms.
Jenn is a Single Mom to the “Fantastic Four”- four children each with their own special needs. Jenn helps her children survive and thrive their daily challenges with Type 1 Diabetes, Autism, Dyslexia and other learning disabilities.
Do you consider yourself an Entrepreneur? Yes
Do you consider yourself a Successful Entrepreneur?
Not yet. I’m still working on it. I’ve been making more money from Young Living Essential Oils so far than from my blog.
I got to the rank of Star in October but had to take time off from Thanksgiving to January because my son had pneumonia. This month I am holding 5 classes for Young Living Essential Oils. I’m following the 6 to Silver program. The goal is to get to Silver ranking in 6 months and start earning $2000 a month.
Three of the classes this month are about essential oils. Two classes are about getting toxic chemicals out the house.
I always wondered what caused my children’s developmental delays, and I’m very cautious about what I expose the kids to. Young Living Essential Oils offers a way to get chemicals out of cleaning solutions.
Have you noticed a difference with your children?
I have noticed a difference, especially with meltdowns. They’re not as irritable. I find lavender really helps them to calm down.
When did you become a Mompreneur?
I started blogging back in 2008. I picked it up as I went along. The original blog was on a free WordPress site and it was called Positive I Am, but when I separated from the kids’ Dad the domain got taken. For about 3 years I didn’t post anything at all.
After I moved the kids out of our marital residence I started searching the internet for ways to make money and blogging kept coming up. Last January I started importing everything into the paid site.
I changed the name to make it more in keeping with my niche (Special Needs Parenting). Now it’s called Positive Parenting Specialized.
The new blog went live in April 2016 so it’s still very young.
Why did you take the decision to become an Entrepreneur?
I had strep throat and couldn’t talk very well so I started to type. I found it really relaxing. Blogging started as a hobby, as an outlet.
Where do you work most days?
Usually from home but I also work on my smartphone a lot. The kids have lots of Doctors appointments so I work on social media while in waiting rooms.
How many days per week do you work, on average? 7 unfortunately
How many hours do you estimate you work per day? 4 hours a day
Do you like the term Mompreneur? Yes
Do you feel there’s a difference between Mother or Father Entrepreneurs? Yes
Would you like to share any highs or lows in your career (as a Mompreneur)?
Sure. Recently I started getting discouraged, I felt like I had to start making money faster because we could be sunk. That was a very low point. That’s when I sent out an email to you and a few others reaching out for opportunities to collaborate.
You reaching out to me made me realize I will pull through and I mustn’t quit.
I also did a guest post for one of the organizations I reached out to in my email, Special Needs Essentials, and they sent some calming stuff. I guest posted for them and they’re guest posting for me.
What has been the number one highlight of your career as a Mom Blogger?
Getting all the calming stuff in the mail from Special Needs Essentials. When they sent us the box of stuff I didn’t even know it had come because it was a Saturday. My oldest found it on the porch and brought it in and we all opened it up together on the bed. My little guy said, “we’re blessed Mom, we’re blessed”.
When the kids want my attention and I have a deadline and want to stay consistent. My challenge is meeting the kids needs and staying consistent with my work.
What has been the number one highlight of Motherhood for you?
Hearing the kids read aloud and seeing that they are able to be literate. It’s been so difficult to teach them to read. My heart is like fireworks when I hear them read. It’s so exciting. My oldest taught herself to read at about 3 years old, she taught herself vowel consonant words. All 3 younger kids needed intense intervention to teach them to read.
What has been the greatest challenge for you to overcome as a Mother?
Not paying attention to what other children are doing, not comparing. Quite a few close friends, even family, thought things were not quite right as my kids were developing. It took a while for me to open up to the idea of having my kids evaluated. The kids would be at a playground and other Moms would ask me what the kids had been diagnosed with and would look at me funny.
I thought they were just taking a while to blossom. I’ve always been a big one to let my kids grow at their own pace and celebrate their successes. I wasn’t ready to see that anything else could be happening.
I was kind of forced to. When Lee, my second oldest, was put into kindergarten the teacher asked what was wrong, what am I hiding? The School got a neuro-psych evaluation ordered. They found dyslexia, even though everything suggested he had autism and not dyslexia. I think I was at fault there because my parent survey didn’t show the autism. They asked a lot of things about eye contact and that sort of thing. I wasn’t ready to acknowledge that he was having these challenges. (Symptoms of autism here.)
As a result, Lee only got diagnosed at 8 years old. At the time I was trying to get speech therapy for youngest son. Matt. County workers came in to assess Matt and found Lee having meltdowns. They waved pamphlets around about autism. We got Lee into a virtual academy where he learned online.
READ Jenn’s Brilliant Article here: To Powers that Be: Fix Special Needs Education
My two younger children, Matt and Sophie, have been in a special needs pre-school, they had speech therapy from the age of 3 to 5. Matt did an adapted gym class to strengthen his legs before regular physical education class.
Matt was non-verbal until 4 and a half or 5. He only said 4 words. Mom, Dad, ball and dog. He drooled constantly and would jump up and down all the time. When he would sit, he would only watch his hands move backwards and forwards.
Sophie would just eat carpet all the time. Sophie lost a lot of language at 15 months.
What happened at 15 months is that Sophie had her MMR vaccination. She ran a fever, cried for over 2 hours and then went to sleep for 4 hours. After that, she was never the same. Something changed with her motor skills, she really had issues after that. It was like part of her was not there anymore. She started regressing.
All 3 of them have been diagnosed with Autism. They started occupational therapy and speech therapy.
Here is a list of symptoms for parents to look for – early intervention makes all the difference.
They changed the criteria for autism in 2013 so at the moment Sophie is not classified Autistic in schools in the district. But she still has a lot of aggression and social challenges.
Aspergers is high functioning, infantile autism is the lowest on the spectrum. Matt started off that way. He did three years of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA Therapy) and that really helped him to thrive. I have also taken gluten out of his diet.
Has it been tricky balancing work and home life?
Yes. Right now the kids are on Spring break and I’ve been researching different things on the blog, but I’m also mindful that I need to do exciting things with the kids. Usually, I work when they are at school.
What do you love most about being a Mom Entrepreneur?
I love how empowering it is. I don’t feel squelched underneath anyone’s thumb. I love the feeling of freedom, that our future is in my hands. I choose my own hours, I’m my own boss. We’re not relying on anyone else to write our cheques and fulfill our needs.
It feels great that I get to be my own boss and supply for the kids. I’m not quite there yet but I feel it’s going to pan out. I can see the baby steps will eventually come together. It’s a process.
All things considered, do you feel it was a good decision to become an Entrepreneur?
Yes, definitely. Otherwise, with my situation, I’d keep trying to apply for jobs and with the kids, I’d keep getting fired from jobs. Because I need to be there when they need me.
For me and my situation being an entrepreneur is the only solution for us. Otherwise, we would just be on government assistance forever and I don’t want that for me or my children.
Do you work from home? If so, what does your room or desk look like?
Ha! I have a desk up in my bedroom and it’s covered in boxes. Normally I work next to Matt as he has Type 1 Diabetes so I have to watch his blood sugar levels.
When he’s at school I sit in the chair he always sits in because it supports my back the best. When he’s home I sit on the couch parallel to him so I can watch his skin color, and see that he’s okay.
When it’s time to cook I move over to the kitchen. We have a gas stove and it’s really old. I put the laptop on the counter right near the stove. I slide in working while I’m cooking.
Funny, I thought being an entrepreneur would be relaxing. It’s not. It’s trying to put in a lot of effort into a little bit of time. But it is better than trying to maintain a strict schedule and be at work at a certain time.
Do you think it’s harder to balance work and home life working from home?
Yes. I think so because the kids are constantly requiring attention. When I’m home the kids think I’m theirs. Working from home I have to have clear boundaries. It’s harder for them. If I was at an office they would understand better.
At least I’m here in body, I can provide for Matt if his blood sugar is low.
What daily rituals are important for you to maintain a work-life balance?
- I wake up every morning and read an account on Instagram called Pocket Fuel and it helps me center my cheese so to speak.
- I do Yoga every day at home because otherwise my back pain flairs up.
- I update social media and always try take the time to write something, somehow every day.
Do you feel you are living your passion?
Do you feel you have already created your best work?
No, not all. When the kids are grown is probably when I’ll produce my best work. I’ll write a paragraph and then run off to do something with the kids. It’s very broken up working on things bit by bit.
My oldest son, Lee always says he’ll live in my basement all my life, which is fine with me. I figure they won’t need as much care when they’re older. I have thought of getting Matt a diabetes service dog to give him some more independence. The dog could wake him when his blood sugar alarms go off. Both boys sleep through the alarms going off. I’m jealous honestly.
If you were to die tomorrow, would you be at peace knowing you had lived a full, happy and meaningful life? Or would you feel you were dying with your song unsung?
I would pass away knowing I’d lived a full, happy life.
Yes. I think no matter the hand we’re dealt, something beautiful will come out of it.
Is there a book or a song or a movie that has had huge significance or meaning in your life?
My all-time favorite song is Louis Armtrong’s What a Wonderful World. When I hear it I know everything will be okay.
What advice would you give someone just starting out as an entrepreneur?
Just get started. Don’t just sit around thinking about it. Just go for it. Make small baby steps every single day. Where would I be if I had taken it seriously back then when I started blogging?
I love this quote by Les Brown (below), but it also makes me feel so sad to think that so many people have such wonderful dreams and ideas, yet die with things that never came to fruition.
The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream. Les Brown
I guess when I pass I want to be sure I made a difference, somewhere, somehow, even if its a tiny one.
Is there anything you know now, that you wish you knew when you started out as an entrepreneur?
Yes. I wish I would have known that I was capable. I constantly self-doubted. If I had known from the beginning that would have saved a lot of heartache and worry.
Is there anything you know now, that you wish you knew when you first became a Mom?
I think to trust our gut instinct would be the biggest one. All along I knew the kids needed help but I pushed it down because I thought I wasn’t an expert. Knowing what I know now, I would have got my children evaluated at an early age. I kept putting myself down, saying it was me having a low self-esteem & self-doubt.
Is there anything you feel you missed out on by becoming an entrepreneur?
No. I just feel like that’s what works for me, it’s where we’re at right now, so that’s what we’re going to do.
Is there anything you feel you gained by becoming an entrepreneur?
Lots of self-confidence. Sometimes there are hard knocks. I’ve applied for different sponsorships and advertisements and been turned down. Instead of beating myself up I’ve picked myself up and learned from them. I’ve seen it as a chance to grow.
Do you feel you chose an easy path or a difficult one?
Difficult. It’d be easy just to sit around and rely on government assistance and just scoop by. But I think we’re designed to more than just scoop by. I think we’re designed to thrive. Work, work, hustle, hustle… but I know we’ll be in a better place in the end.
We’ll set aside money for their future, for their College education. We’ll have more financial stability.
I want to be a strong model for my kids. I want them to see we can come out of a dark place and are able to stand on our own two feet.
Which tools of the trade have been enormously helpful for you?
Neil Patel – he’s been the biggest influence on everything I’m doing right now. I started his course. It’s a really pricey marketing course with 44 modules. Inside each module are bite-sized assignments.
I watched his webinar and couldn’t afford the program itself. I sent him lots of emails. He let me do it for 30 days for $1. I learned a lot in those 30 days. After that, they needed $297 and I couldn’t afford that. I learned a lot in those 30 days.
Are there any people who have been enormously helpful to you?
Neil Patel, you, Special Needs Essentials.
Are there any courses or studies you feel have been essential to your success?
Once budget improves I’d like to become an affiliate for making sense of cents .
Who is your target market? If I were to give you a referral, who would I be looking for?
Families that have been affected by special needs – autism, diabetes, learning issues.
Is your market local or international? International
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I constantly say, I’m strong like a bull. I repeat that to myself 20 times a day.
When someone asks how I’m doing I say: I’m living the dream
My whole purpose with my website is to let people know that any diagnosis they have of their children or any loved one, is not a dead end, it’s not a death sentence. The Doctors will say your child will only be able to do this, this and this, good luck and give you a pat on the back.
It’s really important not be suffocated by a diagnosis. My kids have done far more than what we expected.
Case in point: we have a niece who suffered from a brain tumor. The Doctors gave her 6 months. She lived a lot longer than what they said she would.
Doctors are just telling us what they know but I think with the right attitude there is a possibility of much better outcome than anticipated at early stages of a diagnosis.
That’s my aim with the blog – to give other parents hope. You can do this, try this, don’t lose all hope.
Don’t start thinking this is how my kid is going to be, this is what life is going to be like and resigning yourself to that.
I talk to so many caregivers and so many have lost hope. My kid isn’t potty trained, he’ll never be potty trained. My kid doesn’t speak, he’ll never speak. I’ve tried all different methods. Vitamin B12 shots helped my child speak. I’ve heard of people start speaking at 30 years old.
Read more on Jenn’s website: Positive Parenting Specialized
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