Featured Mama Janice Croze and Susan Carraretto

 

Janice Croze and Susan Carraretto are identical twins who have been working online for almost two decades. They were pioneers in the mom blogging community, launching 5 Minutes for Mom in 2006 with the goal of “bringing moms together” to help connect and promote mom-owned online businesses and blogs.

 

We absolutely love your blog “5 minutes for mom”! It’s such a great resource for mothers. How did you both decide to start it and can you tell us a little bit about your journey so far?

 

In the early 2000’s, Susan and I (Janice) were both looking for a way to change careers and work from home. Susan was a software developer who wanted work hours that would be more flexible when she became a mother and I was working as a youth worker whose son was not adjusting well to day care. As well, our mother had recently retired but wanted a new career challenge.   Together, we decided to open two online toy stores. Working as a team with different skills and assets allowed us to grow a successful ecommerce business for which we were so grateful.  We wanted to help other mom-owned businesses and websites find each other and help strengthen the online female community. So in 2006, we started 5 Minutes for Mom with the goal of participating in the mom blogging community while also creating a space for female entrepreneurs to connect and grow.   As well as being our personal “mom blog,” 5 Minutes for Mom also featured a directory for mom-owned websites, stores, and blogs. At the time, there were no directories targeting female entrepreneurs nor was there any social media for people to easily connect and grow their businesses and blogs.

 

What would you both say to other mothers thinking about starting a blog and sharing their experiences?

 

Blogging has changed so much from those early days when we “mom bloggers” wrote about our personal experiences and then visited, supported, and commented on other mom blogs. Because there was no Facebook or Twitter, etc., our blogs were where we formed and grew our community. It was a special time when the online world was large enough to find your like-minded tribe, but small enough to easily be found and heard.  Nowadays, blogging is less personal and more service-based. As bloggers, we provide resources for readers and in return we receive traffic and attention to the causes and businesses we feature.   While there are definitely still blogging stars and personalities, such as Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess, most successful professional bloggers these days are receiving the bulk of their traffic not from the daily visits of their committed communities, but instead from people searching for information or inspiration via Pinterest, Google, or social media.  Having said that, we still believe blogging is incredibly important for anyone building a business, whether the goal of the blog is to drive traffic to earn money via ads and affiliates, or whether the goal is to develop a personal brand for yourself or your business.   Remember, you do not own your social media channels!  Building an online space that YOU own is critical for the longevity and stability of your business.  So for bloggers starting out nowadays, we would encourage them to determine their goals for blogging and what “success” will be for them.   Blogs don’t have to receive a ton of traffic to be “successful.” You don’t have to run ads or worry about page views. Your blog can be a place for you to grow your authority in your field and provide resources for your community. It can be a stepping stone to bring traffic into a subscription based model. Or you can build a traffic juggernaut that brings in a full time income on page views alone.   There are so many different visions and reasons for starting a blog. It will take time and dedication, but a blog is your property and you get to decide the rules.

 

What have been the most difficult ages so far for you both as parents? Any advice to our readers who may be experiencing similar challenges?

 

Every age and stage has fresh challenges and new joys. For us, the early years of newborns through to preschoolers were our favourite times for all the snuggles and sweet tender moments. But we don’t miss the brutal exhaustion that comes from sleepless nights and chasing toddlers while trying to work from home! I can’t even believe we made it through those years – I am exhausted just thinking about those days and nights.  For young parents, our advice is the familiar but oh-so-true: “The years are short but the days are long.” We remember that agony of trying to make it through the long days of parenting littles while totally sleep deprived and stressed out. There is a reason sleep-deprivation is a form of torture.  So please, exhausted parents, it is ok to get help and take NAPS!   When we had our second babies in the fall of 2007, (I had a five-year-old son and Susan had a two-year-old when we delivered our baby girls two weeks apart from each other,) we both had to hire childcare to help us for the next five years.  We did NOT have extra cash lying around – it was as a huge financial hit for us to hire help. But we simply could not run our businesses without some childcare. We had worked so hard to build our business and we didn’t want to abandon it, nor could we work and parent 24 hours a day. Working from home doesn’t mean you can always work without help or childcare.  So don’t destroy your lives and your health trying to be superwoman. Humans must sleep. And parents need to look after themselves as well as their children.

 

What are some of your favourite family summer activities that our readers can do at home for little to no cost?

 

Our favourite family summer activities are simply getting outside together, whether it is walking our dog AJ in our neighbourhood or at our local dog parks, or visiting our local beaches. One of our favourite destinations to cool down on the hot summer days is Shannon Falls. Sometimes we stop for a splash in the river on our way to Whistler and other times we will drive up to Squamish just to cool down and enjoy the beauty of the falls.

 

How do you balance motherhood & entrepreneurship?

 

We don’t balance at all. We regularly fall over.  For us, motherhood has always come first. In the early years, we were both married and we had the steady income of our husbands to keep us stable financially. Our income could fluctuate and we could put our families before our business.  In 2011, we both separated from our husbands and became single mothers. So for the last decade, our income has had to support us and our children. Being sole providers has definitely increased the stress in our lives, but we still have continued to put our children’s schedules and needs before our work.   Our business has definitely suffered from being second in line to our kids, but the reason we started to work for ourselves 18 years ago was so we had that freedom to make those decisions and put our families first.

 

Is there anything that you are working on right now that you both are very excited about?

 

5 Minutes for Mom turned fifteen years old this past spring! 15 years of blogging means we have thousands of posts. Susan is currently working on a huge site-wide audit, going through our entire blog, updating links, photos, and ensuring our content is evergreen and relevant.  While Susan works behind the scenes on our existing content, I am working to finish writing and publishing the many posts that got sidelined over the years. I have so many projects that got interrupted and temporarily abandoned that I am determined to finally finish, from DIY projects, to sewing posts, to photography tutorials. I even wrote a photography e-book six years ago that I never finished and published.   So as my son moves out to attend university this fall, my goal is to capitalize on having only one teenager at home and catch up on all those orphaned projects waiting in the back end of our site.

 

This past year has been a wild ride for everyone! Have your priorities shifted at all? What are some things that are important to you for the rest of this year?

 

This past year we homeschooled our girls and my son completed his first year of university online. Having everyone home full time while trying to homeschool the girls definitely forced our business to the back burner and we are looking forward to all of our kids returning to in person schooling this fall.

 

Do you have anything else that you would like to share with our community?

 

We believe in community and reciprocal online friendships. If anyone messages us on a platform such as Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. and asks us to follow them back, we will be happy to do so. Just let us know!

Janice Croze and Susan Carraretto are identical twins who have been working online for almost two decades. They were pioneers in the mom blogging community, launching 5 Minutes for Mom in 2006 with the goal of “bringing moms together” to help connect and promote mom-owned online businesses and blogs.

 

We absolutely love your blog “5 minutes for mom”! It’s such a great resource for mothers. How did you both decide to start it and can you tell us a little bit about your journey so far?

 

In the early 2000’s, Susan and I (Janice) were both looking for a way to change careers and work from home. Susan was a software developer who wanted work hours that would be more flexible when she became a mother and I was working as a youth worker whose son was not adjusting well to day care. As well, our mother had recently retired but wanted a new career challenge.   Together, we decided to open two online toy stores. Working as a team with different skills and assets allowed us to grow a successful ecommerce business for which we were so grateful.  We wanted to help other mom-owned businesses and websites find each other and help strengthen the online female community. So in 2006, we started 5 Minutes for Mom with the goal of participating in the mom blogging community while also creating a space for female entrepreneurs to connect and grow.   As well as being our personal “mom blog,” 5 Minutes for Mom also featured a directory for mom-owned websites, stores, and blogs. At the time, there were no directories targeting female entrepreneurs nor was there any social media for people to easily connect and grow their businesses and blogs.

 

What would you both say to other mothers thinking about starting a blog and sharing their expereinces?

 

Blogging has changed so much from those early days when we “mom bloggers” wrote about our personal experiences and then visited, supported, and commented on other mom blogs. Because there was no Facebook or Twitter, etc., our blogs were where we formed and grew our community. It was a special time when the online world was large enough to find your like-minded tribe, but small enough to easily be found and heard.  Nowadays, blogging is less personal and more service-based. As bloggers, we provide resources for readers and in return we receive traffic and attention to the causes and businesses we feature.   While there are definitely still blogging stars and personalities, such as Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess, most successful professional bloggers these days are receiving the bulk of their traffic not from the daily visits of their committed communities, but instead from people searching for information or inspiration via Pinterest, Google, or social media.  Having said that, we still believe blogging is incredibly important for anyone building a business, whether the goal of the blog is to drive traffic to earn money via ads and affiliates, or whether the goal is to develop a personal brand for yourself or your business.   Remember, you do not own your social media channels!  Building an online space that YOU own is critical for the longevity and stability of your business.  So for bloggers starting out nowadays, we would encourage them to determine their goals for blogging and what “success” will be for them.   Blogs don’t have to receive a ton of traffic to be “successful.” You don’t have to run ads or worry about page views. Your blog can be a place for you to grow your authority in your field and provide resources for your community. It can be a stepping stone to bring traffic into a subscription based model. Or you can build a traffic juggernaut that brings in a full time income on page views alone.   There are so many different visions and reasons for starting a blog. It will take time and dedication, but a blog is your property and you get to decide the rules.

 

What have been the most difficult ages so far for you both as parents? Any advice to our readers who may be experiencing similar challenges?

 

Every age and stage has fresh challenges and new joys. For us, the early years of newborns through to preschoolers were our favourite times for all the snuggles and sweet tender moments. But we don’t miss the brutal exhaustion that comes from sleepless nights and chasing toddlers while trying to work from home! I can’t even believe we made it through those years – I am exhausted just thinking about those days and nights.  For young parents, our advice is the familiar but oh-so-true: “The years are short but the days are long.” We remember that agony of trying to make it through the long days of parenting littles while totally sleep deprived and stressed out. There is a reason sleep-deprivation is a form of torture.  So please, exhausted parents, it is ok to get help and take NAPS!   When we had our second babies in the fall of 2007, (I had a five-year-old son and Susan had a two-year-old when we delivered our baby girls two weeks apart from each other,) we both had to hire childcare to help us for the next five years.  We did NOT have extra cash lying around – it was as a huge financial hit for us to hire help. But we simply could not run our businesses without some childcare. We had worked so hard to build our business and we didn’t want to abandon it, nor could we work and parent 24 hours a day. Working from home doesn’t mean you can always work without help or childcare.  So don’t destroy your lives and your health trying to be superwoman. Humans must sleep. And parents need to look after themselves as well as their children.

 

What are some of your favourite family summer activities that our readers can do at home for little to no cost?

 

Our favourite family summer activities are simply getting outside together, whether it is walking our dog AJ in our neighbourhood or at our local dog parks, or visiting our local beaches. One of our favourite destinations to cool down on the hot summer days is Shannon Falls. Sometimes we stop for a splash in the river on our way to Whistler and other times we will drive up to Squamish just to cool down and enjoy the beauty of the falls.

 

How do you balance motherhood & entrepreneurship?

 

We don’t balance at all. We regularly fall over.  For us, motherhood has always come first. In the early years, we were both married and we had the steady income of our husbands to keep us stable financially. Our income could fluctuate and we could put our families before our business.  In 2011, we both separated from our husbands and became single mothers. So for the last decade, our income has had to support us and our children. Being sole providers has definitely increased the stress in our lives, but we still have continued to put our children’s schedules and needs before our work.   Our business has definitely suffered from being second in line to our kids, but the reason we started to work for ourselves 18 years ago was so we had that freedom to make those decisions and put our families first.

 

Is there anything that you are working on right now that you both are very excited about?

 

5 Minutes for Mom turned fifteen years old this past spring! 15 years of blogging means we have thousands of posts. Susan is currently working on a huge site-wide audit, going through our entire blog, updating links, photos, and ensuring our content is evergreen and relevant.  While Susan works behind the scenes on our existing content, I am working to finish writing and publishing the many posts that got sidelined over the years. I have so many projects that got interrupted and temporarily abandoned that I am determined to finally finish, from DIY projects, to sewing posts, to photography tutorials. I even wrote a photography e-book six years ago that I never finished and published.   So as my son moves out to attend university this fall, my goal is to capitalize on having only one teenager at home and catch up on all those orphaned projects waiting in the back end of our site.

 

This past year has been a wild ride for everyone! Have your priorities shifted at all? What are some things that are important to you for the rest of this year?

 

This past year we homeschooled our girls and my son completed his first year of university online. Having everyone home full time while trying to homeschool the girls definitely forced our business to the back burner and we are looking forward to all of our kids returning to in person schooling this fall.

 

Do you have anything else that you would like to share with our community?

 

We believe in community and reciprocal online friendships. If anyone messages us on a platform such as Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. and asks us to follow them back, we will be happy to do so. Just let us know!

Connect with Janice & Susan

IG @5MinutesforMom