Whitney English is an Edmond mom of three and the creator of Day Designer, a day planner she developed out of her own need to find daily focus and intention. Whitney and her husband David are parents to 6-year-old Birch, 5-year-old Truitt and 3-year-old Charley.
MFM: What led you to create Day Designer?
WE: I had a company I started when I was 22 but because of a multitude of factors, it ended up failing. I was in a dark spot in life. I was pregnant, preparing to have three kids under 3 years old and my company was dissolving before my eyes. I went looking for what went wrong. Yes, there were external factors. But I'm not the kind of person to go through something like that and not try to improve personally. My desk was a mess so I started thinking personal disorganization might have played a role. I struggled with ADD and mild depression and I didn't know at the time those things were keeping me from success. All I knew was that my desk was overflowing with sticky notes and I never felt like I had a handle on my goals and to-do list. I found I worked best if I carried around a spiral bound notebook with my schedule on one side and my to-do list on the other. There wasn't a planner on the market that offered me that. It was in that space that I finished product development and launched Day Designer in July of 2012..
MFM: What's been the feedback you've received from Day Designer?
WE: What I love about entrepreneurship is that something in life creates a problem and as an entrepreneur that's this white space to get creative, go to work and find something that's useful. When a consumer catches onto it, there's so much fulfillment in that. When I brought this to market there was nothing like it. Now it's of course been knocked off but as a creative person I am proud to have made something that fulfilled a unique need and that I hear from other people is helping them achieve goals and be more organized, just like it did for me.
MFM: Has it been a challenge to run a business and raise three young children?
WE: I have to define what's enough rather than what's success. Success says you have to always reach a new level of grandeur. I aim to do the best with what I've been given and stop stressing out about becoming an Instagram celebrity.
MFM: Why does the Day Designer work?
WE: I've tried using the calendar tools on my phone. But I'm a big believer in not looking at my phone first thing in the morning. When I wake up in the morning and look at the intentional list I put down on paper the day before, my day is controlled so much differently. Studies show you process things differently when you write them on paper than when you type them and I see in my own life how writing my schedule and my to-do list makes me perform differently.
MFM: What's a typical day at home like?
WE: My husband's also self-employed, so we spend a lot of time at home together. He's into coffee, I'm into carbs, so that's where we go first. We let our kids watch a little TV in the morning, but it's off by 9 a.m. We do a homeschool program that's a blended model of home-based study and part-time school. I'm not one of those extremely nurturing moms. I was the mom who wasn't afraid of child care. But the older they got, the more time I wanted to spend with them. It's important to me not to use school as a tool for getting my own things done. I felt like I should sacrifice some personal time to spend with them.
MFM: Do you think it impacts your kids to see you start and run your own business?
WE: I don't know if it's impacted them much yet because they're so young. I want them to understand that we all have choices in life and it's actually our choices that determine where we end up. It's our personal responsibility to manage those choices. Growing up, my dad really showed me the ropes of being an entrepreneur. He'd say, "Whitney, you can make your own salsa and sell it. You could start a postcard business and sell postcards if you want." I also nannied for an entrepreneurial family so I was very influenced by independent thinkers. I hope my kids are influenced by my husband and I being independent thinkers, too.
MFM: Tell us about your home.
WE: We live in a small house in Edmond, but where we really relax and let loose is at our family's lake house at Carlton Landing. We go out there three days a week. When we're in the city, life is just go, go, go. At the lake, it's very community-oriented and we hang out on the porch and visit with friends. The lake allows us to enjoy being a family together.
I grew up going out to the lake and some of my fondest memories are shelling of peas with my grandmother and pulling peaches off the trees. I wanted my kids to have that.
MFM: Tell us about some of your parenting philosophies.
WE: One thing I've been trying to push lately is humility. I've got this 6-year-old who's always saying he's first and we're really working on how life isn't about being first. I have a friend who has spent his life modeling Matthew's example of following Jesus to minister to the lonely, poor, imprisoned people of the world. It's been amazing to see the life he has led and that's what I want to show my kids. It's nice to make money and have fun with money but that's not what life is about. It's so easy to be selfish but I want my kids to explore the world and love on other people.
MFM: What are the best and worst parts of motherhood?
WE: You love the baby stage but you're so glad it's over. I love the toddler stage but there are hard things about that, too. They're at this stage now where they're starting to use new words every week and they're just so funny and smart. My 5-year-old keeps saying "oh my gracious" and the other day he told me a banana was too crunchy for him. They're just fun to be around. The worst part is discipline. It's sometimes hard to teach them about consequences.
MFM: There's a lot of talk among moms about balance. What is it and how do you achieve it?
WE: Albert Einstein said life is like riding a bicycle. To keep balance you have to keep moving. When I was teaching my kids to ride a bike, they realized if they looked at the pedals they would sway. If they looked at an object in front of them and moved toward it, they were steady. That's an important metaphor for me. You can't have balance without focus or objective. Sometimes it's really easy in the hustle and bustle to lose sight of that.
Honestly, it's been Day Designer that's helped me feel more balanced. I put in what I call Purpose Pages, they're effective goal-setting tools to help you find that focus and objective and make small steps toward that.
[Editor's Note: This interview was edited for style and clarity. Day Designer can be purchased locally at Chirps & Cheers.]