Interview with a Mamapreneur: Meet Melanie Stevens Sutherland of RPM Physiotherapy
Get to know the superwomen in your community in our new series, Interview with a Mamapreneur. We’ll be featuring local entrepreneurs & moms to find out how they run a successful business—and household. This month, meet Melanie…
1. Tell us about your business.
RPM Physiotherapy is a boutique physiotherapy, massage therapy and osteopathy clinic in the heart of the Junction. My background is in sport medicine, but the clinic has evolved to not only treat orthopedic conditions but to also specialize in women’s health (more specifically pre and postnatal care) as well as helping clients after motor vehicle accidents. We don’t use a lot of machines. We prefer to be hands on with a strong emphasis on lifestyle change and exercise. Our perfect client is someone who, after using our services, leaves with an enthusiasm for wellness and the tools for a happy and healthy life.
2. Tell us about your family.
I am mom to two amazing little people. Charlotte is our feisty, hilarious 3-year-old, and in March of this year, we welcomed our son William. My husband Brian is probably the most patient and level-headed person I know, which has made balancing being a mom and owning my own business (read: no maternity leave) possible. We both work from home and balance family and work pretty happily.
3. What led you to become a mamapreneur?
I was in what I thought was my dream job when I became pregnant with my daughter. It unfortunately became very clear that being a new mom was going to be difficult in my current job situation. My boss wanted me back to work within six weeks at full capacity with a nanny in tow and scheduled breastfeeding breaks. I recognize that a lot of women do this, but it isn’t how I wanted to start things off with my daughter. I had no idea how I was going to handle motherhood, let alone give my full attention to my job.
I tried to make it work on a modified basis for a bit. My daughter came to the office at 5 days old on Boxing Day to do payroll and attended her first staff meeting when she was only 2 weeks. After 4 months, I was so stressed out—I wasn’t fully healed and couldn’t give my new baby the full attention she needed. During a really ugly cry in the middle of the night, my husband looked at me and said: “Quit. You are not happy. We will work it out.”
I had never been unemployed before, but since I was already on a planned unpaid maternity leave, I had some time to think about what my ideal work situation would look like. I really love my kids, but I also really love what I do. I felt strongly that I shouldn’t have to give up one for the other, and I was pretty sure I didn’t want to take a step backwards in my career. When I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I decided to create it for myself. I found an amazing business to partner with, and RPM Physiotherapy was born when my daughter was just 8 months old.
4. What are your strategies for running a business and a household at the same time?
This is still an evolution with a steep learning curve. I am by no means perfect at either, but I think recognizing that has made both a bit easier. I definitely juggle more than I balance.
At work, I took a lot of time to hire an amazing team. They are so competent at what they do and require very little day-to-day intervention from me. I try to keep communication very open and transparent so I know what they need from me and vice versa.
I also took great care to put a lot of systems in place that would take the pressure off of me. For example, our clients can book and manage their accounts online. I hired someone to build us a great website that we update with valuable information for our clients. And I hired a fantastic business coach who fills in the gaps when it comes to my lack of formal business training. Having these systems and supports in place allows me to focus on what are the priorities in my business.
Home isn’t that different. I am very lucky to have a partner who is extremely hands on with our kids and is flexible in his work. We are also fortunate to have a strong support system in our immediate families who are close by and always ready to lend a hand. And we had a part time nanny join our family back in September when my daughter started school.
Essentially, on both fronts I’m learning to ask for help and make my needs in both the business and at home clear so we can all support each other. I’ve come to realize that time is my most valuable asset and I have started outsourcing things that aren’t my strength or aren’t on the top of my priority list.
5. What do you do to de-stress?
Exercise is something I prioritize daily. I make it a goal to move at least 30 minutes every day. It can be an intense High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout with heavy lifting or it can be a leisurely walk with our dog. Either way, allowing my body to move and breathe gives me the stamina and hopefully the patience to handle the rest of my day.
Coffee and wine help a lot too.
6. What are your biggest challenges when it comes to finding time for yourself?
I’ve become that obnoxious person who is never without her phone because I’m afraid of letting a client or a team member down if I don’t receive their call or respond to their email right away.
Similarly, I feel bad leaving my kids. I know they are in great hands, but I miss their little faces the minute I walk out the door.
I understand the importance of self-care and time to myself, but I usually spend that time thinking about my babies (kids and work alike). I have a tough time winding down. It is something I am working on.
7. What qualities do you look for in a babysitter or caregiver?
I love the idea of our kids having as much fun as we do when we leave them. I don’t want the act of us leaving to be a negative experience so we try to hype it up as a treat or something fun. Our 3-year-old rules the roost in our house so someone who is up for a dance party while dressed as a Disney princess is always a good fit.
My husband is a little more nervous about leaving the kids. We once went to the movies on a particularly windy night and he made me review hurricane protocol (you’ve heard about all of those hurricanes that hit Toronto, right?) with the sitter before we left. He is much more comfortable with someone who is mature and conscientious around all things safety.
So basically if you can tire our kids out while they have a ton of fun and stay safe at the same time, you are the perfect fit for us. Our favourite sitter does all that and hosts a great pizza party too. She left for university in September and we were devastated.
8. How often did you and your partner go on “dates” before kids?
My favourite date before kids was a game of tennis followed by dinner and drinks every Friday night. Mix that in with trying a new restaurant here and there and getting together with friends, and we were probably getting out once or twice a week.
9. How often do the two of you get out now?
It is hard to get out with an 8-month-old. He is pretty tied to me right now, but we have been out a few times without the kids. My in-laws have been kind enough to watch them while we slip out for a quick dinner when we are all up at the cottage, and most recently, they did their first overnight with my parents so we could catch a show at Massey Hall.
I would say, realistically, we are probably getting a date night alone every six weeks right now. We have some fun events planned for the next few months and we are hoping to start getting some more regular date nights in as our little guy gets older.
10. What are your top 3 favourite date nights?
My favourite date is still walking to a great local restaurant for a yummy dinner and a glass of wine with my husband.
A close second would have to be a trip to the VIP movie theatre. If our time is limited, this is a great way to maximize how much we can fit into a shortened date.
My new favourite is a day date. Since we both have flexible schedules, sometimes the stars align and we get to catch up midday over lunch on a patio before we have to get back to work to finish our days.
About Melanie Stevens Sutherland
Melanie brings 13 years of experience as a sport physiotherapist to her role as Clinic Director at RPM Physiotherapy. As a mom of two, her most recent area of interest is working with pre and postnatal women to manage pain associated with pregnancy by helping restore their core strength.
About RPM Physiotherapy
RPM Physiotherapy is a boutique physiotherapy and massage therapy clinic located inside of RPM Total Fitness, in the heart of the Junction. Our expert team of healthcare providers is committed to helping our clients achieve the healthiest version of themselves by providing excellence in orthopedic, sport, and pre and postnatal healthcare. We employ the most current and effective treatment techniques to help you meet your personal goals.
Special discount for Datenight members: Mention Datenight and receive 10% off massage therapy services or any in-stock retail products. Offer valid until March 31st, 2018. Bookings subject to availability.
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