How Do I Do It All?

My family, the Instagram version. The original had me in at the bottom, but it won’t fit with Instagram.

A photo posted by Rosie Sherry (@rosiesherry) on

This is my family.

That’s my husband at the back.

I use to help him with his business.  Now he helps me with mine (and also works on his own projects).

He use to get the priority to work.  Now I do.

Our priorities change as our lives change.  We think that’s ok.

We try to aim for a 50/50 responsibility with home and family responsibilities.  Though it’s currently not quite balanced that way.  He’s taking on more family stuff these days.  It should swing back into balance next month, I say, wishfully.

When he worked full time and ran a business no one ever asked him how he did it.   No one was ever really curious how he managed to juggle a busy work life and a growing family.

However, I’ve been asked this question constantly:  How do I do what I do with x amount of kids?

I don’t get offended when people ask me, but honestly this is a big issue to talk about.  Sexism. Gender bias.  Societal norms.  Whatever you want to call it.

I don’t want to go into details of it (right now at least), but I did want to explain how I ‘do it’.

I do it with the support of my husband.  Just like  my husband ‘did it’ with the support of his wife.

How Rosie Runs

Lots of people ask how I do things,  So I thought I’d write about a random day of mine from last week.  This is how Rosie survives runs things.

It’s 7am and it’s bit of a hard start to the day.  I’ve punished myself by working until the early hours (1am) whilst Eloise (1o weeks old) was sleeping.  These moments of free time to myself are rare these days and I often (stupidly) take advantage of the time to do some work.  Eloise normally doesn’t sleep unless I’m by her side, so it feels like a bit of a luxury.

The truth is I was expecting her to wake and then being able to get her back to sleep quickly.  Unfortunately this didn’t happen and instead I was up till 4 am.  That means I’ve had 3 hours sleep.  There was no chance of a lie in today.  My husband often does the nursery run for my nearly 4 year old.  He is off duty today.  Plus, my 10 year old is spending the day at a friends.  I need to drop him off after the nursery run.  It’s a busy morning for me.

I’m a few minutes late for nursery, I just barely kept things on track to get my son to his friends house.  It’s 10:30am by the time I get back home. I had been making fresh green juices for breakfast every day this week.  I luckily had some left over from yesterday, this is my breakfast starter topped up by a low carb breakfast an hour or so later. Eloise is crying and was crying every time I stopped the car for more than 5 seconds. I know she’s hungry and tired.  So I feed her, keeping one arm free to catch up on email, some skype conversations and editing/reviewing of articles and videos that I’m working on.

Eloise is unsettled after her feed. I know she is tired, but she won’t sleep.  I carry her around whilst having a text skype chat with a colleague.  This works well for me because Eloise can be distracting and it’s impossible to have a voice call with the noise she makes.  I can also easily take breaks within the skype chats, this gives me time to think or deal with Eloise should she need the attention.  The text chat history also ensures I can take action on things later on, when I have the time.

Eloise falls asleep in my arms midway through my chat.  This is how she sleeps best.  In fact, I know she will wake up if I lie her down somewhere.  So I sit down and let her sleep on me.  It works out ok because my laptop is on my lap whilst she is on my chest.  I can work quite well in this position – both my hands are free.  I can normally get 1 – 2 hours worth of work done like this.  When someone walks by (husband or older kids) I ask them for a cuppa :)

It’s my run day today.  I started running about 18 months ago, but took a break during most of my pregnancy.  I have a history of suffering from SPD.  It use to be painfully bad.  I couldn’t walk when I was pregnant with number 3. Over 2 years after he was born I still couldn’t walk much more than a few blocks before the pain taking over.

I had never really run before and the little people in my head kept telling me I hated running. However, something inside me told me to run.  So I started running and it has done my hips wonders, plus I love it!  So running is now my thing.  I’ve only just started again and my hips aren’t great (they are quite painful tbh), but I’m pleased I can manage 30 minutes of running, only just.  It’s also the only time I get all to myself.  It’s so, so precious to me.

I push myself to make running part of my schedule 3 times per week.  It has to happen.  And today is a running day.  It also has to happen now, or I won’t be able to fit in.  It’s 12:15.  I have exactly 35 minutes to get ready and do my run so I can be back home for Eloise and my husband can do the nursery run followed by a swim with two of our boys.

I attempt to lay Eloise down without waking her up.  I fail, but have to run, so I run off and leave my husband to look after her.

Running is painfully hard at times.  My RunKeeper app and my selfies motivate me to keep going.  However, my running inspires me and always, I mean always makes me feel better at the end.  It takes away the stress and worries that I often have to deal with at home and work.  I run along the seafront and get to see the most beautiful views.  I feel like a winner after a run.  I call myself The She God and I give myself a hi-five after every run.  I know that, just like my work, I will only achieve results one step at a time.  So I just keep going and trying to get better each time. I have my own goals and refuse to compare my running achievements with anyone else.  Funnily, I don’t compare my work or business with others.  I am what I am.  I do what I can. And I try to keep moving forward, always.

I complete my run and get home in time.  My husband literally hands me Eloise and heads out the door.  She’s been crying most of the time I’ve been out. We’ve cut it fine, no time for a shower for me!

I feed then hangout and walk around with Eloise.  I use this opportunity to get some housework done.  The walking about with her does my muscles some good. I also discovered the plane on our fan settles her and sends her to sleep.  I feel like a winner! I lie down and feed Eloise.  She’s been unsettled recently so takes a couple of attempts to get to sleep.  I manage to send a few work emails, catch up on some skype conversations then manage a couple of hours sleep whilst cuddling my girl.

We didn’t plan dinner too well today.  My husband has been doing a lot of the cooking recently.  I could barely eat, let alone cook when I was pregnant.  Now I struggle because Eloise always wants fed or carried.  I’m doing cooking some of the time, but not as much as I would like.  Feeding a family of 6 is a lot of hard work.  It’s one of our biggest challenges. Our eldest son (11) often helps out and has become a keen chef. We get take outs or go out to eat at least a couple times a week.  Sometimes there is just no time to think about food.

Today it’s pizza for the kids and a takeout for the adults.  Eloise is unsettled again so my husband and I take turns comforting her whilst the other eats.

It’s tidy up time now that it is the evening.  The kids help to clear up any mess and load the dishwasher.  It still needs an adult to properly clean things down, that won’t happen until late in the evening when I can find a spare few minutes.

It’s time for my 4 year old to go to bed.  I lie down with him and Eloise.  We read a story and sing some songs.  He crashes out.  I move Eloise to her room.  She takes a while to settle.  When she does I get an hour or so to clean up the kitchen before she cries for me again.

I settle her again whilst checking and responding to emails and doing my work social media thing.  She falls into a deeper sleep this time.  It gives me the only opportunity I’ve had in the past few days to focus and do essential finance work.  I also manage to do some editing and writing.  Here I’ve managed to squeeze in another 2 -3 hours of work.

It’s 1 am and Eloise wakes up for a feed.  I decide to go to sleep too.  This time I get to sleep until 8am. I am grateful!

The above is a pretty typical day for me these days.  Things are a bit mad with a hard pregnancy and adapting to new baby.  Actually, they’ve been pretty stressful!

This day was based on a day last week.  We don’t feel like we have the work/life balance that we would like to have, but we are always trying to take steps to improve that.   We have no house or childcare help at the moment (apart from the part time nursery that our 4 year old goes to).  We’ve addressed this now, hopefully!  We should be having a mothers helper starting with us next week.

We’re constantly adapting and tweaking our environments in the attempt to achieve the holy grail of work life balance!

in Me | 1,511 Words

On Being Thankful

There’s a local greengrocers and butchers that I am always thankful exists.  It may seem like a strange or insignificant thing, however, as someone who aims to avoid the big supermarkets as much as possible, they really help me achieve and make it a heck of a lot easier to achieve some of my goals.

This isn’t the time or place to go into reasons of why I pursue these choices, it’s more of a case of highlighting that in the area that I live in there is an independently run greengrocers and butchers.  They live to the values that I’m trying to live by – sourcing local, good and often traceable food.  And I am extremely grateful that they exist because life without them would be harder.

I express my thankfulness to them by supporting them as much as I can.  They are not the cheapest. Nor are they perfect in the food freshness.  Their availability of products is much more limited too.  They are not open 24 hours a day either.

I could compare them in so many ways to the big supermarkets.  But I don’t. And I won’t. And the truth be, now I feel dirty shopping in supermarkets, but shopping with the local shops makes me feel good.  I feel like I am making the right choices, for myself and for them.

I am thankful they exist.  I like to think they know this without me saying it. They are thankful for my business. They are thankful for my choices.  They know I support their existence not only through the fact that I shop with them on a regular basis, but also through how I talk about, to others, the importance of being a conscious shopper.   Each interaction and shop I do means we get to know each other. They get to know my family. We talk. Laugh. Share stories.  They carry my bags when I’m heavily pregnant.  They consider my needs and recommend options because they know me.

Hopefully, one small action at a time I help support them and other independent shops across the UK.  My gut says that they are thankful for my existence and support – even though we’ve never actually said ‘thank you for existing’ to each other.

Thankful To All Of You Testers!

Now, you may be wondering why the heck I’m going on about this!

Last week saw our 4th TestBash software testing conference happen.  Often throughout the year I get occasional “thank you’s”  for the work I do.  During TestBash time, the “thank you’s” spike, massively.

Being Rosie, I’m left not knowing what to say because (apart from blushing) all that goes through my head is – “No, thank YOU!”.  Thanks to each and every one of you for allowing me to be in this position, doing this work and somehow making a living from it.

Surely, I should be the grateful one!?! I should be the one saying thank you for supporting my work.  But of course I understand it works both ways.  I’m just still not very good at accepting gratitude and compliments.

But it did make me think – what could people do instead of saying thank you to me?  If you have ever wanted to say thank you, what could you do instead? Or in addition to it.  This is when I felt like it related to my local greengrocers & butchers scenario – I am grateful to them in a similar way to some people are grateful to me.

Sure, you can spread the love of good testing and share the work we do.  But there’s more to be be done.

Just like I share stories with the people at my local shops – I’d love to hear your stories.  If we meet. Tell me your story.  Let me get to know you better.  Allow me to understand who you are, what you need and where you aspire to go.  The more I know, the better I can understand how best to adapt and grow the testing work I do.  I can help you more if we make these interactions and stories on a regular basis.  We could do this face to face, but we can also do it better or faster virtually.  Lets hook up…on Twitter, Email, Skype, STC forum…a comment on this blog.  Whatever way takes your fancy!

Lets make a pact to reach out to each other and keep to our values & ethics.  Not as a one off, but as a regular thing.  And not just with me, but with others in the testing community.

Thank you’s are great and all that.  But they are so much more awesome when they are backed up by actions.

AND by all means, say thank you, I won’t hold it against you, but understand that by doing any of the above will imply you appreciate what I do, so a thank you is not necessary!

Thank you! :)

in Me | 826 Words

Kids Change Everything And Focusing On The Feel Good Factor

Life completely changed for me once I had kids.  Though I didn’t realise it straight away.

You can never be fully prepared for what the reality of it means. You can read all you like. Ask all the questions. Go on any parenting course. But when life brings you that child or children, everything changes.

As a mother, I naively thought that I could continue living my life as I had done. Maintain that job. Build my career. I thought it shouldn’t be much different than life before kids. Oh, how wrong I was. Perhaps some people can do this, but I couldn’t and can’t!

I don’t believe it was my fault that I thought it would all stay the same – society now expects and somewhat brainwashes us parents that we can carry on living the same way as before.

There is this process and treadmill we are expected to follow, almost without question.

It took me a while before I realised I had to stick my finger up to the ‘societal expectations’. The pressure of working too damn hard, not making enough money, spending too much money on child care and not spending the time I needed with my boys was too much. Oh, there’s the stress and unhappiness of it all too.

I didn’t want to handle it. It felt wrong.  In my heart I felt that there had to be a better way.

In the early days I tried going back to full time work and failed. Not only could I not bear the emotional side of being away from my kids, but the practicalities of full time work did not did not match up to the family life that we wanted and needed. It ended up with me working to mostly just cover my work and childcare expenses, not seeing much of my boys and generally living a life without the focus we needed.

Perhaps I would have felt differently if I was in a job that I truly loved, respected and given the flexibility that I needed. At that time I wasn’t. I felt confused and unsure where I was heading.

This partly made me feel like a failure when I decided not to pursue a full time job. I had no clear vision of where I wanted to be. I felt like I was missing out. Getting behind in my career. Not contributing as much as I wanted to financially. Something really felt strange about the fact that as a society we are expected to work consistently and constantly.  When we can’t we all too often feel inadequate.

My kids changed everything for me. They’ve made me think and re-think everything I do. I have learned to focus my energy and time on work that I am passionate about and what makes me feel good. Anything else is not good enough for me, and consequently my family.

My family is a reflection of who I am, what I do and how I feel.  I think the ‘feeling‘ part is often overlooked and considered a low priority by society.  Yet how we feel radiates in a positive or negative way to all those around us.

This focus on feeling good, being happy, doing positive things and things that I enjoy has become a part of who I am.  I turn down things that don’t align with this ‘feel good’ factor. I try things out and evaluate whether they make me feel good.  Sometimes I think they will, but they don’t.  The ability to stop is equally as important.

Isn’t this feel good factor important in the one life we get to live?

Of course, it’s not all a bed of rosie’s :)  Life is not perfect. And living this way brings it’s own set of challenges and sacrifices.  However, they are challenges I am willing and happy to fight to for.



in Me | 652 Words

Willing To Lead

I so identify with this.  Watch the video.

“A leader is someone who is not just willing to own the result, but the process (as well).”

It’s something that time and time again I’ve experienced and seen in the world around me.  People are happy to talk the talk, but walking the walk is a whole different story.

I see this in my professional life.

I see it in my personal life.

And ‘I Am Willing’ in the sense that I’m making change that I feel I am capable of.  I’m not taking on the world.  I’m doing things that are important to me and that are within my reach *now*.

I don’t have the time, energy or passion to change the education system.  So instead I (and my husband) own the process of unschooling my boys.  We will also own and take responsibility of the results of their learning.

I own the my work.  I *try* to lead in the world of software testing. In my way. In a way that I am capable and responsible for.  I know that if I stop now, then my work will quickly fail and I will stop leading the way. I am happy to own the results.  Of course I dream that the results will be positive, but whether or not they are, then at least I’ve tried and I will be proud of what I have done.

‘I Am Willing’ and to lead the way, in what matters in my life.  I often avoid and don’t talk about all the stuff I do, normally opting for just doing stuff.  One thing, one day at a time.

And what many people don’t realise, is that if they are truly interested in something, then they too can become leaders of what matters to them.

in Me | 301 Words

Quantity Over Quality

There’s that saying that ‘quality time’ is important. We must spend quality time with the kids, partners, husband, wife, mother, father, friends…etc.

Quality is associated with being ‘important’ and of ‘value’. As a society we are obsessed with quality time – perhaps the one or two holidays over the year are our quality time together to relax. I question if this is enough and I can’t help but think that quantity time is more important that quality time.

There are situations where quantity should outstrip quality.

In the context of family life for example, I’d rather spend lots of time with my kids without the focus on it all being about quality time. Instead of not spending much time with them and feeling that the little time we do have needs to be compressed full of quality.

I spend alot of quantity time with my kids by:

  • being around most of the time
  • giving them space and freedom
  • hanging out in the same room
  • answering on the spur of the moment questions
  • working from home
  • finding compatibilities in our interests and activities
  • taking part in their interests
  • and simply designing my life around theirs

However, I feel society often pushes and focuses on quality time. With so much work commitments, we are spending less and less time together and are then pressured to focus on the little quality time that is left. We are encouraged to do special things in our quality time. Spend money. Go on holidays. Buy things.

Is this what we really need? Does it make us happy?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t go on holidays. I go on holidays (often mixing them with work opportunities to make them more affordable). But having it as the main time we can chill out together as a family just feels wrong.

The more quantity time I spend with my family the more strongly I feel about this and the better our relationships are becoming.

in Me | 326 Words

There’s No Business Like Slow Business

Society is obsessed with ‘Quick’

We want a quick fix diet.

A quick route to being fit and healthy.

Fast (but good) food.

A well paying job, now.

With big rewards in the near future.

That big house, now.

An overnight business success.

How many ads and books do you see trying to sell you a quick solution?

But what about the process?

Why are we forgetting the value of the process? It’s the journey that matters, yet we often seem to focus on getting to the end as quickly as possible – thinking that the end is success and the success at the end is what will make us happy.

We glorify success. Everywhere. Ads. Movies. Magazines. Articles. Society pushes us to strive for success, trying to make us believe it is the holy grail. That we are lesser people if we do not make it.

The process of trying to create or be involved in something important is what makes me happy, what about you?

The value of slow business

I think about the business I run a lot. It would be unwise not to! It’s been a slow journey. 7 years in the making, yet only the past 3 years has seen ‘good’ growth. And even this ‘good’ growth is my own measurement, not someone else’s opinion.

I don’t have a proper office. I don’t have ‘permanent employees’. My forecast is not to make millions. I have no debts either. Nor do I ever spend more than I have.

The business I run could not happen overnight. It takes years to build a community and even more years and trials and errors to figure out how to turn it into a profitable business.

For me it’s not all about the profits, it’s also about enjoying and believing in what I do whilst maintaining a healthy work life balance. It takes time and consistent ongoing effort to figure this stuff out. Most people don’t stick with it, you’re many steps ahead if you can. And even more steps ahead if you are able to adapt at any given point.

It’s slow business, but the best bit is that it is sustainable business. My growth chart is a steady upwards curve, it’s not rapid, it’s steady. Steady is good! I can build confidently upon steady and predictable business. I fail. I succeed. I fail. I succeed. I do this all in small amounts. Small failures and successes are easy to cope with. Big failures can be overwhelming, stressful and complete ‘doomdom’!

I focus on the work that I want to do. I don’t let others put me under unnecessary commitments or pressures. I am clear in my mind and goals of where my business is heading. Lots of little steps makes it slow. However, it so clearly feels so right. I have the time to observe the work that I’m doing. Not only to ensure that it is viable as a business, but also to ensure that this is something that I personally feel happy doing.

Fast Business

The flipside is fast business – which often bring in lots of pressure. Fast and often wrong decisions. Hiring employees. Office space. Investors. Loans. Stress. Big failure.

These are all attempts at getting to the goal faster, often too fast. People will say that fast business means more and better rewards. This speak is normally in reference to money and status. The reality is that striving for these so called rewards brings many additional problems to our world.

Fast or slow? You decided.

I vote for slow, conscious, happy business.

You Should Be Proud Of Yourself

I tend not to big myself up.  I often prefer to keep my head down and just get on with stuff.

(And seriously, I’m not looking for compliments here.  It’s part of my story.)

My husband tells me I should be proud of what I’ve achieved.  And I am.  But I haven’t really shared this in public.  It is probably because I don’t Lean In enough.

Part of it is that I’m still finding my way.  I still feel like I need to find my sweet spot.  There are many things I want to do.  I have a big, big list on my unofficial bucketlist.

However, with my upcoming trip to the US and the chance to meet many other bootstrappers – I have been diving deeper into what other bootstrappers have been doing.

I then compare it to what I’ve done. And guess what?

I’ve been doing and succeeding at what they’ve been talking about.   Whilst living a life of relative freedom.  I work lots. But I also spend lots of time with my family. My husband and I are currently taking equal responsibility for our work. Our kids. And our household.

I work hard, but it doesn’t really feel like work.  I love what I’m creating. And the people I’m working with.  Work and life just rolls into one big ball of awesomeness.

There is something incredibly rewarding and enlightening about it.  I keep talking about it to friends. I feel like I need to pinch myself. I hope it is something that will last.  Where I am now is a very good place and I can’t help but feel that many more people should be in the place that I am in now.

On top of this I feel like I am able to invest in myself.  Something I should have been doing all along.  But life, as it does, often takes over.  And as a mother, I put everyone else in my family before myself.  Perhaps rightly, but probably in hindsight, that was the wrong thing to do.

As I’m investing in myself I am feeling my confidence increase dramatically.  I’m not spending money doing this, rather I am giving myself the time I deserve to do more of the things I should be doing.  Eating the right kind of food (a Paleo diet for me) and exercising plenty (running 3 times per week).

I now feel like WonderWoman and ready to push myself to new limits – in work, personal and family life.

USA Part 2

Last Autumn I went to California for a workliday.  It was awesome.

This time I’m off to Philadelphia for BaconBiz.  A small conference for peeps like me who bootstrap their business along the bumpy roads.  I will then head on down to North Carolina.

The big difference for me is that I’m travelling alone. No big deal you may say.  But for me it is.  Being a family person. Someone who has built their business to be able to spend more (or all!) time with my family.  Spending virtually all my days surrounded by the awesomeness of The Sherry Family. Unschooling.  It is a big deal, for me.

I actually think I haven’t spent more than 24 hours away from my whole family. I will now be faced with a whole 2 weeks to myself.


Perhaps if you are in Philadelphia or Chapel Hill, North Carolina then you can help me spend some of my time.  Just get in touch!

How Rosie Leans In

I was recently pointed towards the TedTalk and then Lean In book of Sheryl Sandberg.  She’s the COO of Facebook.  I had never heard of her until a few weeks ago.

My first reaction was, umm, pro-women-feminist-leadership. Yawn.  I’ve read enough about that.  The fact that her experience is at a very high level also made me weary of what she was trying to communicate.  I didn’t feel like anything she had to say about women and leadership would really make me think deeply enough about it to write this blog post.

I’m pretty sure, for example, that I don’t want represent a huge company to be a high flying exec, attending big meetings and travelling the world.  It’s just not how I rock ‘n’ roll.

In my time I’ve struggled with finding an employer who would be open to the work flexibility that I aspired to.  Perhaps I didn’t try hard enough. Perhaps I was too scared. Perhaps I felt the times that I tried to ask meant that I was knocked off the list. The fact that Sheryl requested as part of her job to be able to be home for dinner, whilst I understand is brave, is just not something that is good enough for me.  This working for someone else thing just doesn’t work for me.  I needed more than just getting home for dinner time.

However, like Sheryl says. We all want different things.  She’s gone after what she has wanted, whilst raising a family.  I’m doing the same, the Rosie way.

I recognise that I’ve stepped back in many ways, instead of leaning in.  I stopped working when I was pregnant.  I tried going back afterwards, but I couldn’t take it.  I didn’t love the work I was doing at the time enough to see through the high cost of childcare, huge pressure to juggle home & work whilst not seeing my kids.  I did the opposite of what Sheryl talks about – I leaned out instead of in.

However, over the years I’ve been defining my own life whilst discovering the things that I really enjoy doing.  Perhaps I leaned back in  areas, but I certainly leaned in and stayed focused in many other ways.

I don’t think I’ve let myself down. I’ve always had dreams to do things. I’ve always tried hard. I’ve never been happy just being a SAHM – I get bored very quickly.  This boredom meant that I was constantly playing around with project and business ideas.  Some have failed, however, others are now flourishing.  Flourishing in a way that I’ve somehow gotten myself into a leadership role of my own.

It feels weird.  And I find it hard to take credit for it.  (Which is exactly what Sheryl says that women don’t do enough of…and men take credit all too easily).  I’m still not quite sure if ‘the not taking credit for it’  is just who I am, or if maybe, just maybe I should claiming my recognition and shouting about it more.  For now, I’m quite happy pushing things along. Growing my business. Desigining my home and business life to accommodate my needs:

  • I run a successful business that is designed around my family.
  • I bloody love what I do.
  • I unschool my boys.
  • I spend alot of quantity and quality time with the family.
  • I have a supportive and now equal partner.
  • I am happy.

I’ve long been dissatisfied with the status quo.  I honestly don’t understand why so many things are the way they are.  My way of leaning in is to challenge them by creating and sharing my own reality.

“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that the impact lasts in your absence” – Sheryl Sandberg

I believe I’m doing the above through my work at Software Testing Club and Ministry of Testing.  I’m working on other projects and discovering new passions which I hope will have a similar impact at some point in the future too!