Editor’s Note: Military Spouse Entrepreneur Spotlight is a monthly Q&A designed to celebrate the successes and acknowledge the challenges of a military spouse entrepreneur.
In the past, we have highlighted Vista Bartholomew of VistaPix Media, Jessica Roberts of Aim High Writing College Consulting, Julie Riggin of Julie Kay Design Studio, Lauren Nygard of Lauren Nygard Photography and Lindsey Germono of Germono Advertising Company. This month, NextGen MilSpouse features Amy Rowland of Play Across America.
Military Branch Affiliation: Army
Years as a Military Spouse: 12
Business Name: Play Across America
Year Established: Website started in July 2012 but business was established in October 2015.
Tell us about your business: Play Across America is a free, online, national playground guide. We provide reviews, pictures, addresses and directions for hundreds of playgrounds throughout the United States. I like to think of Play Across America as the TripAdvisor of playgrounds.
We help you find the right playground, in the right place, with the right amenities to suit your family’s needs wherever you go.
Whether it’s in your community, on the road to your next vacation destination, at an airport, in the mall, or on a military installation, we take the stress out of the search for parents while making kids’ lives a lot more fun. We provide a valuable resource that parents aren’t going to want to live without.
Further, we provide parents the option to customize their playground search. Are you looking for infant swings, a fenced-in playground or one with wheelchair accessibility? Our website allows users to search for specific playground requirements at playgrounds near them.
Some of the most popular features on our website include our annual favorite playgrounds of the year article, our I-95 playground guide, and our other articles that pertain to traveling, hiking and camping with kids.
What’s your biggest lesson learned as an entrepreneur so far?
I have learned that nothing happens overnight. In the business I’m in, viewers and followers are what drive the success of our website. We have seen significant growth in both areas over the past 3 years but it is happening a lot slower than I initially expected. It takes a lot of work to get the word out about our website. It’s a continual process. People don’t usually just discover the website (although now it’s beginning to happen more and more). I have to promote it like crazy. I get that now but in the beginning I thought it would just happen naturally.
On managing work and life – is it all about blending or all about balancing? Why?
I believe it’s a combination of both for me. Because I’m fortunate to be in a business that is all about promoting healthier family interactions through play, my kids get to visit a lot of playgrounds. I get to add more playgrounds to the website all while playing with my kids.
However, there are many times when I have a lot of work to do that’s not fun for the kids. This is where the balance part comes in. I have to make my family the priority and realize that in order to get work done I must sacrifice some of my “chill” time or else my family suffers. So, instead of sleeping in a little in the morning or watching TV at night, I have to get up early and then in the evenings I work on the website instead of just chilling out every night.
Tell us the one thing that makes your dual-working military family successful.
Teamwork! My husband is a huge supporter of my business and realizes that it’s hard for me to make time to work on it during the day (I homeschool my kids as well). So, in the evenings when he gets home early enough and on Sunday afternoons, my husband lets me sneak away to get some uninterrupted work time.
I also realize that his job is very demanding and requires him to work late hours and go away frequently. I cannot resent him for this. I see too many spouses get upset with their husbands (and the Army) for all the career sacrifices they had to make, but resentment accomplishes nothing.
Instead, we should support one another and communicate about how we’re feeling. I find that when my husband and I truly support one another and communicate, life goes much smoother.
Choose one: coffee, wine, water or soda:
Tell us one piece of tech you couldn’t live without:
Must-have song on your productivity playlist:
I Can Feel Again by OneRepublic
Leave us with some wise words…
Well, to go along with the playground theme, and why I love everything about playgrounds, I’ve come to the following conclusion: