Running a cake business during the school holidays

Forum: Cake Decorating Business

Hi,

I don’t think I am alone in dreading the school holidays and trying to juggle looking after the kids and dealing with cake orders especially when its the height of wedding season.

I started this thread so maybe those out there who have some experience of managing this over the years could possibly share their stories with the rest of us who are still trying to find the happy medium of cake orders verses children.

I have two boys aged 7 and almost 4yrs. The eldest can now start doing summer camps but that still leaves me the little one to look after. I can call on family once in a while but not all the time as both sets of parents are getting old and I don’t think its fair on them as its hard work!

Obviously summer is the height of wedding season and I want to do more wedding cakes but I am also aware that I don’t want to upset the kids by not doing things with them all summer. My eldest is also now entering junior Key Stage 2 where he is going to get more homework and will need more of my time to sit with him throughout the year to help with school work.

I can manage some weeks staying up till the early hours but that is not good for my health either and recently I have been ill for most of this year on and off and the doctors have told me to chill out more and take it easy…..arrggghh! I so want to make more cakes but I am struggling with time to do the housework, gardening, look after the kids and do all the jobs involved with running a business too.

Please share your ideas and experiences, I am hoping I might be able to find some useful advice!

Alpa x (Simply Alpa)

Tags: how to work with kids school holidays

Simply Alpa

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16 Replies

Deb Williams Cakes ...

Hi Alpa, I know exactly what you mean. It’s very hard to juggle kids and cakes! I wish I had a solution other than scale back on the cake orders completely, it’s what I’ve done and I only have one 3yr old. I put so much time and effort into my cakes that I was having to stay up until sometimes 3am to finish, then get up at 6:30am as that’s when my son is awake 😫. It was also impacting on what I consider an enjoyable hobby, turning it into a chore that I wasn’t enjoying as much. Maybe when my son starts school I will make more cakes, but only during term time. I always want to put my son (and my marriage) first. I hope you find a happy medium, I think this is something that all cake makers have problems with x

Alpa Boll - Simply Alpa ...

Completely agree with you Deb, I’ve previously taken on too much and it started impacting on my relationship with my husband and the boys. I am happy to wait till the boys are older to take on more but for the moment I am just doing enough that I can make a small profit and enjoy what I am doing whilst being a Mum and wife to my boys!

Ellie @ Ellie's Elegant Cakery ...

Hi Alpa, I feel your pain. My children are grown up and left home but I can still only do cake decorating part time. I really don’t know how you make it work with two children and as you say holiday time you don’t get any time.
I do take care of my mum which takes a fair amount of my time, but you will nearly always find me in my cakery (room in my house) every single night making things, sometimes up to midnight and gone. Luckily my hubby doesn’t mind as it means he gets to watch what he wants on TV. I can also stay in bed till about 8 as I don’t have to get up to sort the children out.
The other thing is that I am always thinking about ideas and how I am going to tackle something, so I really don’t know how you get the time to do everything. Even my dreams are working out how to do cake.
Listen to the doctor and chill, you have many many years of cake making ahead xx

June ("Clarky's Cakes") ...

I know this isn’t exactly cake related Alpa, but the same principles apply. I trained many psw’s when I worked. The office constantly asked them to work more hours in the summer, cover off vacations etc. We were allowed to choose our hours, so they weren’t obligated, although they were made to feel they were. The office didn’t give a hoot about them or there family, they just wanted the cases covered off. Tell the office NO. I use to tell the young mothers, they’ll be a time when you can work more hours, but right now, why create stress?? Finding suitable babysitters, daycare, which is expensive. Using family, which as you say, wears thin. Working evenings, never seeing your children, or hubby. And creating strain in the marriage. There only young once, and you’ll blink, and there all grown up! I suggest you cut back, take perhaps only 1 order a week. Will keep you busy, in the market, create less stress. Trust me, I saw women who didn’t heed my advice…and the toll it took. As Ellie said, you will have many years to caking ahead. You, you’re health, your children and hubby are all worth this temporary sacrifice.

Michelle Singleton ...

I totally sympathise with you. I have 3 children all under 5 😱 I’ve decided to make my peace with not being able to expand my business as quickly as I’d like. I try to have a lot of structure in my days so that I can fit everything in as well as making sure I have 1 day off a week to spend time with my kids. As much as I love making cakes, I don’t want to miss out on fun with them.

If you manage to find out the secret, please share!! Lol. 😄
Good luck! X

TipsyTruffles ...

Hi all – had to just add to your discussion – believe it or not – I have 6 children at home all under 12 – the youngest is 4. They are ALL home educated, I do modeling and cake making and am a professional chocolatier too. They like to get involved with what I do and I have recently started to let them help out with simple cakes and cupcakes (the older 3) and they have expressed an interest in getting involved with the company as they get older. We are also a full time Free Range Egg farm and they get involved in that too. We incorporate their learning in our day to day life. Counting/maths etc gets pulled into weighing/counting eggs/ingredients etc – they enjoy doing math this way and it keeps their interest, unlike when they WERE at school and were bored senseless!! We do sit down for an hour or so each day for involved learning, and, as they are on a one-to-one basis, this is perfect and they have all learnt far more than when they went out to school. I could never go back to that way of life now and we all enjoy what happens here. So ladies, I have to say, it CAN work and do children LOL ;-) xx

Alpa Boll - Simply Alpa ...

Ellie / June and Michelle,

thanks for your posts, I am trying to be a little more organised with my time. I know this year especially is a bit unique as we have moved house so lots of things to get done which in coming years will disappear. The boys are brilliant they understand why Mummy is making cakes and that the extra money helps towards treats for the family. I think for the next few years I am happy to take fewer orders. I don’t really make many birthday cakes as most of my customers are wedding cakes or anniversary cakes so I have never had more than three orders a month. The orders I do get a rather complicated and large so I tend to focus on them one at a time.
thanks ladies, its just good to know I’m not alone in trying to juggle everything!

Alpa Boll - Simply Alpa ...

TipsyTruffles well what can I say hat goes off to you having 6 children all home educated whilst keeping chickens and baking! My friend home educates which is fab for those that can work it to suit them. For me though both the kids and I prefer the school environment, it just depends on what works for you I guess.
I see you’ve just joined CD too, welcome to the site and I can’t wait to see your creations!

TipsyTruffles ...

Thanks ladies, Ive managed to get a few cakes on and am looking forward to having a look at everyone elses amazing cakes too :-) xxx

Alpa Boll - Simply Alpa ...

Yes I saw, great modelling. Where are you based?

Gillw101 ...

Hi Alpa – Over the last few years I’ve discovered that time is so very precious when you have young kids. I’ve spent the last 2 or 3 summer holidays saying to my 2 boys “sorry, we can’t go anywhere today, because I have cakes to do”. After doing a carved handbag, a 70th birthday cake and a giant wedding cupcake with numerous cupcakes underneath in 10 days of intense heat (5 days in a row of 28c +) I said enough is enough!! So I do 1 or 2 orders throughout the Summer and that is all! It’s very hard to juggle cakes, kids, housework, husband and I also have an admin office job – so I actually look forward to a break during the heat and humidity in the summer. Listen to your doctor!!! I know of various cake makers that have had to stop completely due to stress, so ease off a little and enjoy the summer with your kids……cakes can wait!! 😀 xx

Rebekah Naomi Cake Design ...

I have two under 4 at home and run a cake business. They love to be involved, Esme especially loves to make sugar flowers….if I have a marathon sugar flower day…she gets her own work station with fondant in an array of colors (usually my leftovers from the week) cutters, a rolling pin, wires…she goes to town, it keeps her occupied and happy and allows me to do my work. Teddy is happy being a taste tester. They both enjoy helping me bake and clean…today was family clean the kitchen day. They get a bucket with soapy water and a sponge and I let them do the walls and Windows. It’s easier to let them help than to fight against them and send them away to play. It also eases my guilt in being a work at home mum.

Alpa Boll - Simply Alpa ...

Gillw101 you echo the words from my husband who has been very good at reining me in. Two years ago I did too much and although it worked well for the business my relationship with my husband boys suffered. Since then I have taken on less, this summer either side I have orders but nothing for August so looking forward to two weeks away camping with them.
I have decided until they are older I am going to take on just one cake order a month for July and August. As my wedding cakes are always rather intricate this is enough and will spend the time just playing with techniques and doing admin rather than stressing over orders.
Rebekah thank you for your reply and I am glad you have found a way to work around it but I don’t think that would work in our house! My eldest is a Duracell battery that needs to run around, climb and he doesn’t stop! Having the two of them in the kitchen would be more of a hazard that would stress me out even more.
I think for the moment I am happy to keep the orders down, I don’t want to stop enjoying what I am doing and because on top of this I have lots of family issues concerning the care of a family member I think this is what will work best for us.

Thank you all for your replies though, it shows there is no one answer to this, really depends on your circumstances and your personality and those of your kids.

Alpa x

CuriAUSSIEty Cakes ...

I love this discussion as a mum of 4, ages 10, 11, 13 and 15 I thought it would get easier but have found as they have aged it has only got harder. Yes they can entertain themselves more than say when they were little but that is only at times. Little ones seem to have such vibrant imaginations…I remember when coloring pencils and book kept them going for hours, lol. I thought this summer was going to be better but something always comes up and now we are more than half way thru the summer and only been to the beach once :( . I am going to take the last week of this month off, spend it with them and my husband and know that I have done my best to manage both. It is not easy and I have seen quite a few people step back from their cake businesses this year simply to be with their families. All I can say is that kids grow up so very fast and time with them is precious, so take as much time as you can even if it is just a snuggle on the couch before bed or a morning walk. For me I never finished school or thought I had any skills so for this cake thing to be going well I am so excited, however balancing what I now want to do with something that has finally given me a sense of being good at something and that my kids are so super proud of me for and family life is hard. My kids have no interest in the cake world but I do make them part of it. Last year I took my boys out of school for 2 days and took them with me to Miami to meet Calli, Cynthia Lorow and Eva Salazar, they loved it and now know these people when I talk about them. My daughter came with me to the North Florida show and met Jockan Jordan and had dinner with Timbo. So sometimes it is the little things we get to do… a kiss on the cheek, a trip to the grocery store with ice cream on the way home, I think the big days of caking followed by a trip to the movies with mum can be a great balance, who cares if the bathrooms don’t get cleaned for one week, they will still be there next week,lol. So to everyone juggling it is a struggle but we mostly find a way, we are mums, and mums are super heroes!!!!

Happyhills Cakes ...

I’ve just had such a tough week, I have 3 kids and had 3 wedding cakes to do, one of them included 80 mini cakes, it was so tough and very stressful. Even though it’s the most lucrative time of year I’ve had to realise that the kids are more important, for the time being at least. It’s really tough