Like many women this past year, I had to walk away from my career during the Covid-19 lockdowns to be home with my children when schools and childcare centers closed.
When Covid-19 hit, I was a partner in my family’s accounting firm, and it was tax season here in Canada. Now, not only was I dealing with the crazy tax season hours, I was transitioning my team to work-from-home, on calls with clients whose businesses were being impacted by the lockdowns, and full time parenting two little kids.
I tried to keep up this impossible juggling act of parenting and working simultaneously, but I could not do it. I felt like I broke. What started as burnout turned into depression when I did not make any changes to my life to take care of myself.
I stopped being able to focus, to retain information, and felt detached from my work and eventually my life. I was dealing with extreme fatigue and sadness. I reached a place where I could no longer keep going on this way, and I had to take a leave from my accounting firm – a business that I had been helping grow for the past decade.
As I overcame my depression and the lockdowns continued on, I started to feel the itch of entrepreneurship. My passion for accounting was extinguished, and I did not think anyone would hire me when I was without childcare and clearly not able to manage it all at once. I felt like being my own boss was my only path forward.
My entire career had always been about accounting, and I really had no idea where to go from here. I felt lost. When I was trying to work from home, I used screens and toys to try and occupy my kids when I needed to be on Zoom. I was getting frustrated at how many of the toys in our home just did not occupy my kids for lengthy periods of time. It was in this frustration that the idea of a new business started to form.
People commonly say when you want to think of a business idea, think of a problem to solve because chances are other people will have this problem too. I became preoccupied with this idea that our toys could do more for kids and the parents.
I started dreaming up toys that were open-ended so that every time a child played it would be a new experience. I started to think about how toys could be better for parents, like easy storage, easy cleaning and so on.
It started as a personal philosophy on toys and not so much a business plan. However, things morphed when I landed on an idea of a play couch and started to put it into reality.
I had absolutely no experience with product design, the toy industry, or selling a physical product. But I have learned that when you are passionate about something, you just figure it out.
Covid-19 has put a strain on parents, specifically mothers who often carry more of the household and parenting duties. It is only as I stretched myself too far trying to take care of my clients, my employees, and my family that I realized I forgot to take care of myself.
While self-care has become a hot topic this past year, it is something that I now truly believe in. Taking that time to go for a walk or read a book or whatever activity energizes you or de-stresses you is deserved and necessary.
We need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. Only then can we find the creativity and passion to be the version of ourselves we want to be.
About the Author
Sara Feldstein is a former tax accountant who traded in the boardroom for the playroom. She currently runs the toy company Barumba Play out of Toronto, Canada.