Design Mom Office Hours — Book Your Appointment!

Every day, I receive lots of questions from blog readers and people who are following along on social media. Sometimes the questions come via email and comments on blog posts. Sometimes they come in response to my newsletter. Lately, a ton of them come via DMs on Instagram.

Answering reader questions has been an important part of my job for 15 years and I take it seriously. But the frequency of questions and requests continues to increase considerably. Of course, I’d love to answer all the questions. I’d love to personally advise every person who is thinking about an international move. I’d love to help all the people trying to design their family room/bedroom/kitchen/bathroom. I’d love to offer my best advice for each person undergoing a political/religious identity crisis. I’d love to ease each parent’s worries about finding the right school and getting into a good college. I’d love to help travelers figure out their best Normandy itinerary. But I simply can’t. Some requests take an hour minimum to begin to answer properly. Others require me to scour my archives for half an hour looking for specific links. I make a point of answering common questions publicly (I do this almost everyday), but again, I don’t have the bandwidth to answer every question.

So I love hosting Design Mom Office Hours. You can book a block of time to talk with me about… whatever you’d like. In this way I can be helpful to those who need more assistance beyond my general Q&A, and for those who would prefer help or guidance on a non-public forum. It’s also a chance for me to connect with people more personally.

As of this writing I’ve held over 200 meetings and each one has felt totally and completely unique. Some people had specific design challenges they wanted to get help with. Others had parenting questions. Still others wanted to talk politics and vaccines. When you sign up for a meeting there’s a spot to mention what you’d like to talk about, and some people wrote: “just for fun,” or “just to chat.” And that’s what we did. Some people listed a specific topic, but then when we started the meeting they changed their mind and we talked about something else. I really am up for talking about whatever you’d like. Here’s just a sampling of what meetings have covered so far:

-Advice for traveling in normandy
-What to do when you move into a new house and you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start design-wise
-Getting French Visas
-Creating a Family Identity
-Someone wanted to tell me what it’s like to have a spouse with the opposite political views
-What to do with an Awkward Room in a house
-How to Remake a Bedroom after a Divorce
-Launching Online Classes
-Staying in/Leaving Mormonism
-How to Interview Your Kids on a Regular Basis
-My Opinions on Toddler beds
-Establishing a Community
-Communicating with House Contractors
-Someone shared their Business Heartbreak
-Conflicts with Religion & Family
-How Content Creators Make Money
-Choosing a TV Room Rug
-The Community College path
-Wet Room Bathrooms
-Digital waste
-Someone wanted to tell me What it’s like having Anti-vaxx Neighbors

How Office Hours Works

-The meetings are online with cameras so we can chat face-to-face. Would you rather chat with cameras off? That’s fine too. I offer a range of times to accommodate different time zones.

– Each month I open up an equal amount of 30-minute meetings at 3 different price ranges — $50, $75, and $100. So it’s sort-of pay-what-you-can — the idea is that if you can afford to, you’ll choose a $75 or $100 meeting, and leave the $50 spots for others. Along those same lines, if you and I have already had a $50 meeting and you want to schedule another one, please choose a $75 or $100 spot for additional meetings.

-Want to Gift a Meeting to a Friend? You bet. You can find Gift Meetings on my calendly page. If you don’t know when your friend has time for a meeting, no worries. Just pick any date several weeks in the future, and they’ll get a confirmation email that has a “reschedule” button where they can choose a more convenient date and time.

-Need a no-fee meeting? You got it: Scholarship Meetings are available! For every 10 meetings booked, I give out a free Scholarship Meeting. Just email and put “Scholarship Meeting” in the subject, and you’ll get the next scholarship meeting that becomes available. (And hey, if you need a scholarship, do not hesitate to email — everyone needs help sometimes. That’s just how life works.)

-To book a meeting, use this Calendly link. Once booked, you’ll receive a confirmation email, a reminder email, and you can also choose to get a reminder via text. If need to reschedule, choose the reschedule option in your confirmation email.

Feedback About Office Hours

After one meeting, I received the best compliment. A woman named Jen H. wrote: You are to design what Ted Lasso is to comedy. You both remind us that progress is born of small steps. And you both model how to respond to inevitable obstacles (no need to freak out and feel like the sky is falling, just look for the next steps with curiosity).

Willa O. sent me this note after our meeting: It was so wonderful to meet you and to pick your brain. You were able to so quickly jump in and share so many inspirations big and small — my mind has been buzzing with ideas and I appreciated you building a launchpad for me to jump from. Thank you again for the “office hours” opportunity, as well as your encouragement!

Another woman who signed up “just to chat,” was worried that we wouldn’t have much to talk about and told me she almost canceled her meeting. But she ended up not canceling, and was happy to realize that I am a curious person with lots of questions and that there wasn’t even a small lull in our conversation. So if you want to chat and you’re not sure what you want to chat about, go ahead and sign up. I’m good at talking to people and it will be fun, I promise.

Anyway, if you’re interested in booking an Office Hours meeting, please do so! I would love to talk with you.

More Reasons Someone Might
Want to Book a Meeting With Me

The things people request to talk to me about typically fall under 7 categories: France, Design & Renovation, Parenting, Current Events, Mormonism, Alt Summit & Social Media, and a category I’ll call Just for Fun.

They are thinking about moving to France and wondering what it’s really like.
They are thinking about moving to France and want information about getting visas.
They are moving to France and wondering what they should bring and if they should ship their furniture.
They are moving to France and aren’t sure how to go about looking for rental houses.
They are officially moving to France and need advice on steps they need to take when they arrive (bank accounts, schools, cell phones, etc.)
They want to buy a house (or chateau!) in France and don’t know how to find good real estate sites.
They want to buy a house in France and want to know what the process is like.
They are planning a visit to Normandy and need advice on their itinerary.
They are curious about France in general, have no plans to move there, but want to chat about the cultural differences.

They are working with an architect who doesn’t have kids and want me to look at their plans through a family-life lens.
They need resources and ideas for their restoration project.
They want to know where I found the fixtures and appliances in our house, and want to know all the paint colors I chose.
They want guidance on how to make certain spaces in their home more useable.

They are breastfeeding or bottle feeding their baby and need reassurance they are doing the right thing.
They are super stressed their kindergartener won’t get into Harvard in the future.
They are pregnant and want to discuss pregnancy and childbirth.

They want to chat about what’s happening and get my take on certain topics.
They want to argue with me about my Twitter threads.

They want to explain to me why they think I shouldn’t be a Mormon.
Their kids don’t want to be Mormons and they are sad.
The Mormon church is stressing them out.

They are thinking about starting an event or conference and need advice.
They are wondering how people earn a living from blogging and social media.

Sometimes, people have been following along for so long they consider me a friend and they want to chat one-on-one. (And even though we don’t know each other in real life, I love that I can be a friendly face on the internet for them!)

27 thoughts on “Design Mom Office Hours — Book Your Appointment!”

  1. I think this is a really great idea! What a good way to value your own time and mental energy while also providing a way for people to still have access to your great insights.

  2. Love this! I often make questions or ask comments via Insta DM and often worry that it’s a burden to get so many. But I like to show my interest/engagement. What a cool way to make those interactions more accessible. I hope you’ll report back and let us know how it’s working out!

  3. This is such a good idea. And as a lawyer, I think your hourly rate is super low. My firm bills $27 for you to call me for 0 to 6 minutes. My kid’s speech therapist bills $2 a minute. Gymnastics class costs $28 for 50 minutes (per kid in a group class). I’d probably also increase my rate significantly for meeting topics that aren’t appealing, like people who want to badger you about your religion or your thoughts on reproductive health. I’d much rather spend my time helping people plan vacations or interior design. Good luck with this new endeavor!

      1. Thank you, Zim. I do hope they feel generous. My sense is that a lot of people are struggling financially right now, so I’m trying to keep things accessible. But I may discover it’s not worth my time at this rate.

        I like this stage in a new idea because everything is still flexible, and can easily be changed or adapted.

        1. I think the rate is also too low, but it’s your rate. I also think it let’s people know that your skillset isn’t everyone’s freebie so those who really want/need to know will need to book a consultation.

    1. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

      100% agree that your time is worth WAY more. Women in business undercharge for their time so often. * There’s a topic for you!

      1. I totally agree with you Pamela! I know women chronically undercharge, and I discussed this very thing with my friends as I was feeling out this idea. I don’t want to be a poster child for undercharging and I do believe my time is worth way more. And for a corporation with legit budgets, my rates are much higher.

        When I was picturing individual blog readers/Instagram followers as I conceived this Office Hours program, I found myself feeling protective of their personal budgets and wanted to keep things as low-cost as possible. But I realize I may find this isn’t sustainable.

        I haven’t announced this on Instagram or Twitter yet (which are currently my most active platforms), so I’m interested to see what sort of feedback I get when I do.

        1. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

          A delayed response – I realized my comment might have been discouraging. Everything you have said about this idea has been really spot on for who you are and how you want to be in the world. I hope this idea goes far!

    2. Thanks for this feedback, L. I sincerely appreciate it. I was thinking I would try a low rate for first-time meetings, and then charge a higher rate for any additional meetings (or even a per project fee if it’s a specific design job). My hope is that the $50 rate keeps things accessible, and allows people to try it out and see if they find it valuable. But I am no expert on pricing, and I for sure worry I’ve priced it too low. We’ll find out!

      Thank you for including some specific example prices for reference.

  4. i am in awe of you: your leadership, creativity and being that friendly face on the internet. thank you for being authentic and making this a safe space to voice opinions and talk religion/politics/women’s rights. i come here for that. appreciating you from alameda, california!

  5. I absolutely love this idea! I’ve been struggling with paint/decor in our guest room and that we could do it via a camera and get your help would be fabulous!

  6. I love this idea. It’s fair, will hopefully give you more balance ( or not!!) and is a wonderful way to connect to your followers.

  7. Excellent plan! As others have said, it’s beautiful to see you valuing your time and the energy it takes to share knowledge with others. If you have so many requests that you’re booking three weeks out, then you’ll know you can double your price. 😉

  8. I love this idea! Your time is valuable and I like how you give a price range for those that can’t afford the higher price but still would like to talk with you.

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