I Gave Up Full-Time Custody Of My Kids To Grow My Business

Courtesy of Julie Stoian

Julie Stoian and her family

Courtesy of Julie Stoian

Julie Stoian via Working Mother
Julie Stoian via Working Mother
July 18, 2024 at 6:8PM UTC
I was born and raised in a small town and was the epitome of the sheltered Christian child. I played by the rules and expected good tidings to follow me all the days of my life. I had high expectations for myself and everyone else, which often resulted in harsh criticism when those expectations weren't met.
In the summer of 2014, my life started to crumble. I was on the cusp of divorce, a mother of three and pregnant with the fourth, with no insurance, and no immediate way to support myself, let alone pay for a lawyer. Turns out, life wasn't as neat and tidy as I'd hoped. I’d been a stay-at-home mom for 10 years and I found myself out on my own, pregnant, divorced and jobless.
I started doing small jobs that paid, but not enough to cover the bills, so I had to make an excruciating decision. I refused to take my children out of their top-rated school, and instead I chose to give up full-time custody for 547 days. For a year-and-a-half, I only saw my beautiful children on holidays, vacations and weekends. For 547 days, I had to say goodbye to them every Sunday night. It was one of the most difficult things I’d ever been through.
I seized every opportunity I could to see them. I even got up at 5 a.m. to drive 45 minutes to their bus stop to see them off on the first day of school. I Skyped with them to feel like we were in the same room. It was traumatizing for me, and it hurts me to think of the impact it had on them.
During those 547 days, I questioned my decision about my children every day. Thinking about it now still makes me uncomfortable and sad. I wish I could say that over time it got better, but the truth is it grew increasingly worse.
The only good that came from it: It hurtled me forward faster in developing my business, which was my key out of the situation. The quicker I could get back on my feet, building a business that would give me the resources to support my family, the faster the nightmare would be over.
At that time the most I’d ever made in a month was $2,500, which wasn’t close to enough to care for my family. I remember wondering, how was I going to make up for the years as a stay-at-home mom and find the wherewithal to have a job that could keep me home, allow flexibility with nursing a child, and provide a good school for the kids? Most of all, how was I going to create the kind of stable income I needed to care for all of my children under one roof?
Those were the questions I asked each evening while I was building my business, after I’d worked during the day, and my children were with their father. In those 547 days, I had a baby, got remarried and built a successful business. By the end of 2016, I’d made over $180,000 as a freelancer working from home.
So what exactly did I build that now provides me with financial stability, and restored full-custody of my children?
I help people create financial freedom through digital marketing and online business strategies as the owner of Create Your Laptop Life. I’m a consultant, coach, mentor, designer, marketer and sales funnel strategist all rolled into one. I teach business owners how to market themselves online, make money, and live big, bold, brave lives.
I help women create financial freedom so they never have to make the kind of choices I had to make. My journey to financial freedom lasted 547 days, and I'll never forget the day everything I'd been working for came to fruition. It started with a bulletin board from my husband that’s the size of my car. He bought it for me because I had a major meltdown around the time the kids were finally coming to live with me. I knew this meant that the house would soon be flooded with art projects and school papers.
In a desperate effort to control everything about the transition—the new school, town, routines and adjustment, I was hell-bent on a big new bulletin board to stay organized and needed everyone to agree with me, no questions asked. That board is, and will always be, a symbol of my new beginning.
When I think about how frightened and unsure I was without my children, I can’t believe I’m running a company that supports my family, and others too. In the end, those 547 days got me where I needed to be to become a better parent and a successful businesswoman.
For those of you who think the path from no business to a stable one is years and years away, let me tell you: It’s not. The key is to understand when it’s time to wait and when it’s time to act. You can do this.
This article originally appeared on WorkingMother.com.

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