Business & Marketing

What I’m Learning About Life And Business From Watching The Crown

Recently, I started watching The Crown... and in my usual fashion I've already seen half a dozen episodes. But I didn't expect to be learning things... | Amanda Sue Howell | #amandasuehowell #thecrown #businesslessons #lifelessons #bingingNetflix

Recently, I started watching The Crown. And by recently… I mean yesterday. As I’ve had happen in the past, what began as “lemme just see if I like it” quickly turned into “wait, how many episodes have I watched?”

Safe to say, I like it.  It’s changing how I think about royalty, in the same way that Designated Survivor changed how I think about the office of the President. Let me explain.

When I first saw Designated Survivor, I was fascinated by the premise… I didn’t even know that was a thing (although it totally makes sense). In case you haven’t seen the show, it’s a fictional drama about the designated survivor who becomes the President. A designated survivor is a member in the Presidential line of succession, who’s eligible to become president (natural-born citizen etc.).

In the show, he’s one of the lower ranking members in the line of succession… he’s over HUD I believe. And the worst happens… the White House is bombed, and to his shock (and the nation’s horror) he becomes President. Overnight, this man who was in politics more out of his wife’s ambition than his own, is forced to make incredibly difficult decisions.

Decisions I’ve never thought about. Like… the consequences of ordering a missile strike. He’s up late at night, thinking of the SEAL team who’s putting their lives on the line for the mission. These aren’t things that ever occurred to me. Of course I know they happen, but when it’s spoken about on the news, it somehow feels more nebulous.

Watching it unfold before your eyes is riveting, and stressful. And you’re just watching a fictional character on a fictional show, making a fictional decision, affecting fictional lives. But these things really do happen.

So, back to The Crown. In case you haven’t seen it, it begins with Prince Philip of Greece renouncing his title to become Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten of Her Majesty’s Naval Service. As you may know from history King George VI because sick and died at a fairly young age, meaning that Elizabeth became Queen years before anyone thought she would be.

And overnight, everything changed. Everything. Her husband could no longer escort her through the door, because The Crown must take precedence. There’s a moment, shortly after King George’s death, when the newly crowned Queen is coming down the hall, and her grandmother Queen Mary in full mourning veil, has to curtsey before her.

I’ve never known how awkward a curtsey can be.

I’ve never realized just how much work goes into being a queen. But it makes sense… they’re managing a country. Or in the instance of England.. many countries.

Recently, I started watching The Crown... and in my usual fashion I've already seen half a dozen episodes. But I didn't expect to be learning things... | Amanda Sue Howell | #amandasuehowell #thecrown #businesslessons #lifelessons #bingingNetflix

But one of the things that got my attention, was the letter from Queen Mary to Queen Elizabeth. In it, she explains that she needs to not only mourn her father’s death, but the death of Elizabeth Mountbatten. For now that she’s queen, that woman doesn’t really exist anymore.

She goes on to say that the two women will be at odds throughout her life, but The Crown must always win. She also adds, that she’s seen 3 monarchies brought to their knees by a failure to separate personal indulgences from duty.

Now our businesses aren’t as serious as managing a country. And there’s something to be said for personal indulgence now and then… but I fully understand the 2 warring women. As a Mom, and an artist, and a business owner… the struggle to balance those worlds is real. Recently I was on a call, and someone said that they wished that they could mother like they didn’t have a business, and run a business like they didn’t have kid-responsibilities.


It’s tough to nail the balance of wanting your kids to see what you do, and be a part of that world… but not wanting to apologize for the argument in the background of your last voice message. To want to be with your kids and soak up every moment of their childhood… but to not want your expensive paints smeared on the wall. To struggle with guilt over whether you’re spending enough time with them, or wonder if you’re failing your business because it’s growing a little slower than some people.

It's tough to balance wanting your kids to see what you do, but not wanting to have to apologize for the argument in the background of your last voice message... Click To Tweet

And if you’re a homeschool Mom, or your kiddos are still very young, there’s a whole new layer involved. A twinge of envy, when all the Moms in your group cheer because their kids are going back to school… followed by a flush of shame because you really do love teaching them. Most of the time. There was that one meltdown over division…

But you have to find the balance. And you have to teach your kids… this is Mommy’s work time. But follow through… when it’s play time, don’t be Entrepreneur Emily. Don’t think about your business, or check to see how your Instagram time-lapse video did. Turn off your notifications, and be present. Just be Mom. And when the kids are in bed, and you’re with your hubby… don’t think about the next project the kids have. Don’t go set up a Facebook ad. Be present. Be a wife. Because that’s one thing The Crown nailed…. it’s much easier if you’ve got a great spouse.

King George never wanted to be King in the first place. He was thrust into that role, much like the Designated Survivor was. But he tells Elizabeth, that the only thing that helped him, was her mother. And he asks if she has that in Philip.

My husband is also named Phillip (but with 2 “l’s”… it’s the man version of Anne with an “e”), and I could not do this without him. He believes in me, when I don’t. He urges me to invest in my business, when I insist that it’s not in the budget. He listens to me complain about unproductive days, or website misadventures, or terrible customer service from someone I buy from. He is quick to share my FB posts even though most of his friends don’t care.

I wish that Queen Mary wouldn’t have told Elizabeth that the Crown always takes precedence (although that conversation may not have really happened… but in show it did). I wish she would have told her… that when she’s attending to royal duties… Queen Elizabeth takes the lead. But when she’s home, behind closed doors, she’s just Elizabeth Mountbatten… the love of her husband’s life, and the light of her children’s lives.



It’s A Beautiful Day In My Neighborhood

One of my favorite parts of being a military spouse, was the sense of family that came with it. When my husband was stationed in Georgia, I joined a local mil spouse group, and we met up for coffee to commiserate over our shared experiences with deployments, moves, parenting sans-Daddy, and keeping the spark alive during crazy shifts and months apart.

Not only did I have my local military wives to connect with, but I also connected with numerous women in the milspouse blogging community. It’s strange the effect that the words “me too” have. “Oh my gosh… your husband’s in the military? Me too!!!” Instant connection made.

Those “me too” moments have always been one of my favorite ways to connect with people. “You like Supernatural? Me too!” “You were homeschooled? Me too!” “You have a million kids? Oh my gosh… me too!!!”

That sense of community is exactly what I want to build into my business. I never want my clients, or even my readers, to feel like they’re just a name on my screen. Rather, I want them to feel like we’re just chatting over a cup of coffee (or chai tea latte). I want there to be a sense of community running through the heart of everything I do.

One way I do this, is being very real. You get to come hang out with me as I do Instagram stories from my front porch swing. I show off the lizards and deer around my house. I confess that I like to annoy my oldest daughter with a really bad French accent. I’ve shared that I only started lettering at the beginning of the year, and I’ve brought you along with my journey.

One way that I’m not so hot on this, is my about page. It wasn’t bad… when I last updated it. But I shared my post 2 days ago, and was horrified to discover it still listed me as a coach. Here’s a hint… I haven’t been a coach in a very long time.

So I was super excited to find out that Kris from With A K Writing, and Amanda from Amanda Creek Creative are teaming up together to help us create about pages that create awesome first impressions (and second, and third). So if reading my about page goof made you think “me too!” I would love so much if you came and hung out with me, so we can make our pages the coffee shop that draws our perfect new BFFs in.

Need an About Page that connects? Join “Your About Page Story” and begin your customer relationship on the right foot, with the right story and the most creative expression of it.


Bloggy Confessions: I Am A Tweaker

So right now, you’re probably mentally picturing me with some serious caffeine withdrawal jitters. *twitch twitch*

Not that kind of tweaker, sicko. 😛

Here’s what I mean. Every day, I wake up knowing that today will be the day. The day I finally get my ish together. I get up, get ready for the day, get the kids going on their school, sit at my desk… and the magic happens.

Okay, maybe that’s not what really happens. Reality for me looks more like this. First, I figure out where my 2 year-old moved my planner, then I grab my calendar, to-do list, bullet journal, notebook, and pen and sit down “to plan”.

And buddy let me tell ya, boy do I ever plan. And I plan. I drum up ideas. Re-think my blog categories. Make a list of everything that needs “fixed” on my site.  Make sure I’ve got a clear vision of my target market. I scan my list of possible blog posts. I “tweak” the graphics on my website.

And then it’s lunch time. So then I eat lunch to re-energize myself… but then it’s time to do client work.

I am the queen of vision. I can dream bigger than most people I know. But I tank it when it comes to making those dreams come to life. When my friend April found out I struggle with this, she gave me the brilliant suggestion to track all my tweak ideas in one place, and then set one day each month as my official “tweak day”.

So if I’m on my website, and there’s something that’s annoying me, but it’s not an emergency, I put it on a dedicated page in my bullet journal, and I get back to work.

Then when my special tweak day arrives, I get out my list and I start working my way through it, and I cross them off as I accomplish them. Sometimes by the time I get to it, the issue has resolved itself, or it turns it I don’t care as much as I thought I did. Either way, it gets crossed off.

So tell me… are you a fellow tweaker? If you are, what is your go-to for staying focused?

Running a Business With School-Aged Children: Boundaries & Mutual Respect

Running a Business With School-Aged Children: Boundaries & Mutual Respect

For the month of February, I’ll be chatting about different ways to run a business when you’ve got kiddos. The first week was running a business with a baby, the second week was running a business with a toddler, and today I’ll be talking about will be school-aged kids.

In general I’ve had the typical parenting experience… I’ve been been barfed on, pooped on, and drooled on. I’ve had peanut butter smeared on just about every dark shirt I’ve ever owned, and I’ve learned that if you cheer when your toddler falls on their butt, they’re much less likely to freak out.

But the one thing I have never dealt with, is a child in the bathroom with me while I’m bathing or peeing. Watch the video and find out why. 😉


Like I said in the video… I don’t want my children to think the world revolves around them, but I want them to know that they come before my business. Additionally, I want to be providing a good quality example of what entrepreneurship looks like for my children. Not only am I raising future adults, but I hope that I’m raising future entrepreneurs, and I would want them creating healthy boundaries too.


What are your tips for creating boundaries with your children?

Running a Business With Toddlers: Busy Boxes

Running a Business With a Toddle

For the month of February, I’ll be chatting about different ways to run a business when you’ve got kiddos. The first week was running a business with a baby, next week will be school-aged kids, and today I’ll be talking about running a business with toddlers.

Last week I gave 14 tips for running a business with a baby around. Many of those tips translate to running a business with toddlers, but I want to talk about something specifically for this age group.

Recently I’ve started reading up on busy boxes/bags. I don’t even recall where I ran across the term, but the concept is pretty simple. It’s a box (or bag) of toys/games/etc., to keep little hands occupied. When I see work at home mom’s talking about it, they have a box or boxes that are for use only when they’re working. Especially for things like conference calls, when you might need a little extra help keeping them entertained.

Since I’ve only just started looking into this myself, I can’t give you any cool photos of the ones I’ve created. But I promise to do a follow up post with what I come up with. For now, here’s a quick round up of some places where you can get some amazing ideas!

Teaching Mama – Busy Bags 101

Powerful Mothering – Ultimate Guide of Busy Bag Ideas – 100+ Ideas Sorted by Category

Little Bins For Little Hands – 25 Low Prep Busy Boxes or Busy Bags Activities

Intentional By Grace – Why I Use Busy Boxes For My Toddler & Baby

The Domestic Four – DIY Quiet Time Busy Boxes

Some children are more tactile than others, and some children have trouble properly processing their senses (SPD). For these children, sensory bins are a great twist on the busy boxes/bags concept.

Love Play and Learn – Sensory Bin 101

Kids Activities Blog – Over 200 Sensory Bins For Tactile Fun

Play At Home Mom LLC – 50 Sensory Bin Ideas


Have you ever used busy boxes/bags for your children? What were some of your favorite items for those boxes?



14 Tips For Running a Business With a Baby


Abigail - 1 Day Old
Abigail – 1 Day Old

For the month of February, I’ll be chatting about different ways to run a business when you’ve got kiddos. Next week I’ll cover working around toddlers, week after will be school-aged kids, and today I’ll be talking about running a business with a baby.

2 weeks before Christmas 2014, I was told that the sonographer might have miscalculated my due date, and I might in fact be having the baby on Christmas Day. She didn’t end up arriving until the 2nd week of January (my originally calculated due date), but the lesson is clear: Make sure you’re ready, well before the baby actually arrives.

It’s human nature… there’s 9 months to prep for a baby’s arrival, but rarely do we feel prepared when it’s go-time. So if you’ve got a sweet bundle on the way, try to be as ready as possible before their arrival.


Every baby responds differently, so your mileage with each of these may vary.

1. Baby swing

Just like any tech, these have come a long way over the years. When I was a baby, the swings were a bit noisy, and they’d run through batteries pretty quickly. I remember younger siblings being manually pushed periodically as the battery’s drain caused the swing to go slower, and slower.

Now they last longer than ever, some of them can be plugged into the wall with an AC adaptor, and my very favorites swing 2 ways. They can sing forward/backward like traditional baby swings, but also side-to-side.

Of course, the cooler the swing, the more spendy it is, but you can get one with all of the above features for just under $150.*


2. Cradle

Cradles are super portable, and this allows you to work but still have the baby near you. Sometimes all they want is to be able to see Mama, and hear her voice.

These have a very limited time that they can be used, because as they get bigger and begin rolling over, the cradle is no longer a safe option. So if you can get one on sale, or just pass it on when you’re done so it continues to be useful, that would be a great way to go.

3. Baby wrap

I’m definitely not an expert on this topic, so I’ll link you to some resources for this.

What I can tell you is that there are tons of options for baby-wearing. You can use sling wraps, stretch wraps, woven wraps… you’re sure to find one that will work for you and your baby.

Also, you can often find local babywearing groups, many of which have a “lending library” so you can test out different baby wraps/carriers.

Babywearing 101

Babywearing Safety

Kinds of Carriers


4. Flexible (but set) hours

Okay so now you’re probably wondering… how can you have set hours, but still be flexible? Okay… what I mean by this is, be prepared to work around your baby (and if you have other kids, then be prepared to work around all of their individual needs).

But while you’re working around your baby’s feeding/sleeping/clingy schedule, make sure that you’re not working 24/7. Set parameters to work within. Hours that you will not be working.

If you wake up at 3am to feed the baby, don’t try to check your email. You might be awake enough to read it, but you run the risk of not being awake enough to answer it clearly. Make your off-work hours sacred for baby snuggles, kid cuddles, husband-time, Netflix binging, and (hopefully) sleep.

5. Batching

One simple way to be super productive, is to batch your tasks. For example, if you get ready to schedule your social media posts for the day, go ahead and schedule your posts for the week (or the next 2 days, or however much you have time for).

6. Work in Cycles

If you (like a lot of creatives) like to bounce around from project to project, a good way to make sure you stay focused is to use an app like 30/30.

Based on the Pomodoro technique, this app lets you create a set of tasks (and allot an amount of time that you want to spend). I also schedule in fun things like dance breaks, or a coloring break, and I schedule in Facebook time.

If I schedule in fun time, and social media breaks, I’m more like to stay on focus for the rest of my tasks.

7. Maximum Impact/Minimum Time

If you’ve only got a short time amount of time (which isn’t unusual for moms) figure out what will give you the biggest result for the least amount of time.

Here’s a hint for figuring out your most likely focus: what are your money makers? Answering emails is quick, but probably not your biggest bang for your buck.

If you’re an author, then put that small spot of time into writing. You may not be able to write a whole chapter, but if you get a page or two done, that’s one step closer than you were. If you’re a photographer, work on editing a session, or create an ad for your next season.

8. Automate

This works really well in coordination with batching. Write a bunch of blog posts over a weekend, and schedule them out for the rest of the month. Write up your social media posts over an hour, and schedule them out for the next week.

The more you can batch/automate, the more time you’ll have for focusing on your maximum impact activities… painting, editing, writing, etc.

9. Discuss Family Roles

Having a family meeting before the baby arrives can help answer questions, and set minds at ease. This gives you the opportunity to reassure your older children that they’re still important, and discuss with your husband what a good schedule will be.

You can use family meetings to plan out set days off, or make everyone aware of upcoming calls/appointments/creative sessions. These are also a great time to discuss plans for your next family day… will it be a game night? Movie night? Are you ordering pizza?


Self Care

10. Plenty of Sleep

It should go without saying, but we’re Moms. So it bears repeating. Less sleep doesn’t just mean less energy. It means slower reflexes, reduced logical thinking, and less patience. All of these are vital for a business owner, but they’re extremely important for a mom.

I tell my kids… “Mommy needs a nap so she won’t be cranky later”. Simple, but true.

11. Accept Help

Some people accept help readily.

I am NOT one of those people. I’m stubborn, and fiercely independent to my own detriment at times.

But especially when the baby arrives, you need all the help you can get. So if someone offers to bring food, LET THEM. Soon enough everyone will go their own way and you’ll find yourself staring at the clock, wishing the pizza fairy would stop by your house.

And if your husband or older kids want to help around the house, LET THEM.

I have a bad habit of wanting to go back behind my kids and re-do what they’ve done. I used to do this to my husband too… he has his own style when it comes to folding the laundry.

But when I redo what they’ve done, they notice. And they think they shouldn’t even try… why bother, Mom’s just going to redo it anyway. I don’t want to foster an atmosphere where my children (or husband) no longer feel like their efforts are appreciated.

I also don’t want my children to be come extreme perfectionists either.

12. Don’t Start Back TOO Soon

If this is your first baby, this advice goes triple for you. Babies take more time than you’ve probably even considered. And this isn’t bad at all… these are precious times, and if you dive fullbore into your business, you can miss some amazing times with your little snugglebug.

Feel free to ease yourself back into work. This isn’t a 12-week maternity leave job. And your business doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

13. Time For You

Sometimes we over complicate this one… “Oh I’ve got a full day, there’s just no time for me.”

Alexandra Stoddard* talks a lot about creating little moments throughout your day… making things (even mundane things) as pleasant as they can possibly be.

So maybe you don’t have time to go get your hair done, or have coffee with a friend, but you can create moments…

  • Get handcrafted soap and turn your showers into an experience
  • Turn email into an experience by having your favorite tea while you go through it
  • Buy a wonderful coloring book, and some nice pencils, and pause periodically for a coloring break (you don’t have to color an entire page… you can do pieces at a time)
  • Pause for a dance break!

14. Support Network

I can’t underline this one enough. Having a support network can be a serious lifeline.

Some people don’t have supportive husbands, and I hate that, because mine is wonderfully supportive. He’s more supportive of me, than I am. Ha! Seriously though…

But even if your husband is awesome, one person doesn’t create a network. So you need to have several peeps that you can go to. Try having one or two people for different areas of your life… a family member that you can vent to, a business associate who can give you perspective (or feedback on a new project), a friend you can go on coffee dates with…. your network can be as big as you need it to be.

I’d love to hear you from YOU now. What are your go-to tips for running a biz with a wee one around?

*anything with an asterisk indicates an affiliate link. Money received from affiliate purchases goes towards coffee, books, and world domination.