What started out as a hobby turned into a successful blog and a whole lot of interesting side projects, all of them accomplished by Amy Oztan, the voice behind Amy Ever After.
In the following, the Selfish Mom (as AmyEverAfter was initially called) tells us about herself and what she loves doing (she loves baking and sleeping, she’s one of us 😴). She also talked to us about her blogging beginnings, experience, and expertise, and life, in general.
1. Let’s begin! Care to tell our readers a little something about yourself
I work from my home in Brooklyn, where I live with my husband, two teenagers, a cat, and two guinea pigs. I love singing and baking, often at the same time.
I love writing about products as much as I hate writing about my feelings. I love listening to podcasts (and making them). I can’t imagine living anywhere other than a big city with good pizza and bagels (although I can produce decent versions of both).
I’m a vegetarian, but I cook meat for my family all the time and am pretty good at it. I’m an atheist, but I sang in a church choir for ten years, so I probably have a better handle on Christianity than a lot of Christians.
I’m a terrible crafter and an even worse dancer. And I can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under three minutes. My kids taught me how.
2. What’s the story of Amy Ever After? What determined you to start a blog and how has it evolved since your first post?
I became a blogger totally by accident. I majored in musical theater in college and had zero background in writing.
When we bought our brownstone in 2006, I started writing about our renovation on a local real estate blog, just as a hobby. That led to writing about parenting on a website about NYC moms, and I liked writing, so I started a few websites of my own.
Eventually, they both got so big that I had to give one up, so I kept Selfish Mom (Amy Ever After). I still own Filming In Brooklyn and have been thinking about reviving it now that my kids are older and I have a bit more time.
There are also about five other websites that I really want to start, and at least two more podcasts. I need more hours in the day.
When I started Selfish Mom, I was just doing what other people were doing, writing about my kids and what motherhood was like.
Eventually, I discovered that I liked writing about things like baking, tech, movies, and shopping a lot more than writing about parenting.
Long before blogging, I was the one everyone came to for buying advice. I started buying Consumer Reports magazine in high school. So this was a natural fit for me.
My business cards say, “I help people buy things they didn’t know they needed.”
3. What have you learned from blogging? How did it impact your life, and what motivates you to keep it up and running?
Blogging has taught me a few useful things. One, I discovered that I love figuring things out. I had no idea what a blog was when I started, but I taught myself how to get a website up and running, how to do some coding, how to use Photoshop and Premiere, and most importantly, how to make money from it.
This has been a double-edged sword because once I teach myself how to do something, I don’t want to hire someone else to do it.
I also discovered that I’m not the kind of person who is willing to work day and night for something. I’ve watched blogging friends run themselves ragged, and while there have been short periods when I’ve had to do that, in general, I don’t overwork myself.
Consequently, I still have a very small business, but I also get enough sleep most nights. I completely recognize that this is a choice most people don’t have, and I’m grateful that I’m not the breadwinner in our family.
4. You blog, you’re a mom, you are an entrepreneur. How do you manage to stay organized throughout the day and make time for everything?
Honestly, I don’t make time for everything. If my work life is going well, I can guarantee you that my house is a disaster, and vice-versa.
And I have every advantage in the world: I’m healthy, I don’t have to work if I don’t want to. Also, my kids don’t need much of my time these days since they’re both in high school and have their own lives.
And yet, I still haven’t found that work-life balance thing. I think the key is being able to delegate and get help where it makes sense, and I just can’t seem to get a handle on that.
I don’t like dealing with people very much, so I usually just suck it up and do things myself. It’s probably my biggest fault.
I also tend to write about things that take time and research. I know some bloggers who spend 45 minutes on a post, start to finish, including pictures and promotion. I wish I could do that, but I think I would have to write about something else.
I can whip out an opinion piece in twenty minutes, but if I’m writing about a thing, I want to know all about it first, and I want to include details, and I have a whole social media workflow that I follow once a post is published. It’s all very time-consuming. Most of my posts take about six to eight hours.
5. Do you have any advice for our readers on that matter?
This is a classic case of not following my own advice, but figure out what you hate doing the most and find a way to get someone else to do it. If you can manage it, hire someone to do that thing for you.
But even if you’re just trading with another parent, and doing something for them that they hate, you’ll get a bit of emotional relief.
Unless you’re a control freak like me, in which case, good luck ever delegating anything.
6. Want to share a funny kid-work balancing story or event?
A few of my favorite video moments happened when my kids didn’t know that I was taping something. Instead of letting it ruin the videos, I included it as a moment of realness.
My favorite one was where I was filming something in my kitchen, and my daughter walked behind me. About halfway through the room, she realized what was happening, so she ducked down, but only about a foot — totally visible — and then started walking backward very slowly. It was hilarious, and I didn’t know it had happened until I watched the video!
7. What do you most enjoy doing with your kids or what is your favorite family tradition?
These days, I’m just grateful when they want to do anything with me! They’re 17 and 14, so they mostly spend their free time with their friends, or in their rooms.
But when I can get us all together, we like playing “Scrabble”, or “Rock Band”. There are also a few TV shows we like watching together, like “The Daily Show” or “The Simpsons”.
8. Confession time: what do you consider to be your biggest parenting success? Would you also share your biggest parenting failure?
My biggest parenting success has been raising independent children. They can get anywhere in NYC by themselves. They can assert themselves with adults when necessary.
And my general policy of benign neglect has taught them they have to take care of things themselves if they want them to get done. This was a lot easier for one of my kids to learn than the other.
My biggest parenting failure? How much time have you got? I mean, I can’t think of anything huge, but it’s a death-by-a-thousand-cuts kind of thing.
I’m super disorganized, so I didn’t always have the right forms filled out or have the stuff ready for spirit week or have the gift in time for the party.
I hated letting them make messes (not because our house was spotless, but because it was already too much of a mess to let them make it worse); so there were no crazy art projects or playing in the mud. And I never taught them to write thank-you letters. I really should have done that.
9. On the same note, which were your best and worst days as a mom?
My best days are when my kids confide in me. My worst days are when I know that something is wrong, but they won’t tell me what.
10. What helps you decide to post/not to post pictures of your children on social media?
My kids have pretty much banned me posting their pictures anywhere. I have no great desire to be part of the huge industry of moms blogging about their kids, and my kids didn’t really want to be part of it either.
It’s unfortunate, because every day in NYC there’s an invitation to do some fun thing or meet some celebrity, but it just didn’t work for us.
We went to a ton of events when I first started, but I wasn’t enjoying it and they didn’t seem as into it as the other kids. And then when each of them hit middle school, they freaked out about what was online already, and I took most of it down.
Now, I ask their permission to post anything, but it doesn’t come up much. I mostly like to write and post about things that have nothing to do with my kids.
11. Would you share your opinion on a controversial parenting subject?
I don’t write too much about controversial parenting topics, only because I don’t care enough about what other people are doing to argue about it.
I’m super judgy and I disagree with the way most people do things regarding their kids; but I also recognize that unless it’s an obvious case of abuse, it’s really none of my business, so I judge in my head.
Unless, of course, it’s something that directly affects the community at large, like getting your kids vaccinated. There you go, that’s a controversial parenting topic I’ll talk about all day because this trend of ignoring established science and statistics drives me absolutely crazy.
The lack of critical thinking in the anti-vax community is astounding. And unlike other groups, whether a parent vaccinates a kid is, actually, everyone’s business; unless that parent doesn’t plan to ever let their kid leave the house.
Flat-Earthers are just as idiotic, but newborn babies and people with compromised immune systems aren’t going to “catch” anything from flat-Earth stupidity.
12. Tell us all about your favorite baby or child accessory or product.
I know that I spent a ton of money on gear when my kids were little, and I’m sure that researching and buying that stuff consumed my life for a while!
And yet, a dozen years after my youngest was a toddler, I can’t really recall specifics. I do remember vowing before my oldest was born that I wasn’t ever going to use pacifiers.
I hadn’t been around babies much and thought that parents who use them just weren’t trying hard enough. So I didn’t buy any, but someone had included a three-pack of them with one of my shower gifts.
Fast-forward to the second or third night home from the hospital. I was tearing the apartment apart, desperately trying to find those stupid pacifiers! Before I had my next baby, I think I bought about fifty of those suckers.
13. While it might sometimes be hard to find a moment for yourself, what are your favorite “Me time” indulgences?
I really don’t have that problem anymore, but when my kids were little I would throw them at my husband as soon as he got home from work and run to the diner on the corner.
My refuge was a newspaper, an egg salad sandwich on white toast, some onion rings, and nobody talking to me for half an hour. Doing that a couple times a week kept me sane.
14. Want to share your biggest achievement/what you are most proud of?
I’m pretty proud that I figured out how to make money as a blogger. When I started out, I didn’t even know that it could be a career!
15. To wrap things up, do you have any advice you want to offer our readers?
Don’t lose yourself in parenthood.
It’s hard to imagine when your kids are little, but someday, those kids are going to be gone, and you need to make sure that you have a life to go back to! Don’t give up your hobbies, don’t give up your friends. And for goodness’ sake, make sure you still like the person you had those kids with!
If you aren’t (already) following Amy, be sure to like her on Facebook and on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or YouTube. You’ll get mouth-watering recipes and new tech ideas (among others) and her stories and unique, honest-to-herself voice.
Have another question to ask Amy or something you’d like to find out about these Moms? Then leave it in the comments, and we’ll be sure to ask it next time around! 🙂
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