I often get asked questions like ‘how do you do it all?’ and ‘how do you manage having kids while working so much?’. The truth is that I don’t do it all (spoiler alert: no one does!) and that my days are very layered, flexible and complex.
A little about my present set up: my children are currently 2 and 4 years old. Before I had them, I worked anytime I wanted and put in loooong hours. This is really when I poured myself into building my brand and my career, often putting in 60-70 (80?) hours a week. After I had my son, Bear, I still managed to work a lot. It was simple: when he slept, I worked. Shortly after my daughter, Ollie, came along, my husband was able to shift his normal 9-5 job to a remote position – so he now gets to work from home, as well. This was really an essential step in how I’ve been able to ‘make it all work’. We’ve fallen into a beautiful work flow – someone is always on with the kids while the other one works. We can tag in and out several times a day like this, or oftentimes give each other entire days when work calls for it. It ebbs and flows very nicely.
I believe that it’s very possible to find that beautiful balance between working from home and being a mother. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Find time in the nooks and the crannies.
A long time ago, I heard someone speak about how they never said ‘I don’t have time to …’. Rather, they would say “That’s not important enough for me to find the time for”. Because the truth is, we make time for whatever is most important to us. What a mental shift! One way I combat finding time for all the things is to find time in the nooks and the crannies. 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there.. they all add up. You’ll find me listening to a podcast in the car, watching a Skillshare class in the tub and reading a book on branding while the kids watch a movie after dinner.
I of course also find time away from work, to replenish and do other things that I love like garden and travel. Setting aside plenty of focused time with my children where I’m 100% present with them several times a day is always at the top of my priority list.
Separate your work life from your personal life.
For me, working from home means that I have to work really hard to separate my personal life from my business life. It can be hard for me to stay focused and not feel like their are a million other things I should be doing. Clearly defining my work and remembering to let go of the household chores and duties can be the trick to finding highly focused productivity. One way I like to do this is by setting work blocks, or dedicated block of time that I do nothing but one task.
Take yourself seriously.
When working from home, it’s easy to get caught up in the household errands, little projects and chatting on the phone. Often times, people don’t really understand why you’re not available for lunch dates, phone chats and swing by visits when you’re at home. Be up front and strict about your work hours (whatever they may be) and try to work when you’ve set aside the time to. Other’s won’t take your work seriously unless you do!
Cultivate a place that you love.
Being a stay at home working mama means you have to stay at home. A lot. Luckily for me, I’m a homebody through and through, but one reason I love to stay at home is because I’ve been intentional about creating a space that energizes and inspires me. Being at home feels a little bit like being on vacation! There are plenty of simple ways to make this true for yourself – surround yourself with things you love. A vase of flowers, plenty of sunshine, beautiful music and a workspace that motivates you should do the trick. Whatever refreshes your spirt and renews your mind, incorporate that into your home.
Toss the schedule.
One of the biggest things that helped my schedule when I became a mama was to throw it out the window. Ha! Days and nights became blurred for a while and my entire daytime routine changed. Instead of trying to maintain control, I decided just to let it go. I encourage you to also go with the flow. If you were up all night and need to stay in bed till noon, do it. Rather than force a schedule every day, be flexible with whatever is happening with your children, especially in the beginning. In the end, you’ll get more accomplished and you’ll feel much better about doing so.
One thing that will be especially helpful in maintaining a more flexible schedule is to plan ahead as much as you are able. Not all work situations allow for this, but if you can schedule blog posts, design work or writings in advance, it will give you the wiggle room you need to stay flexible during the week.
Make time for learning new things.
This one is related to finding time in the nooks and the crannies but I have found that taking time specifically to learn something new revitalizes me and brings a new depth to my work. Just this past year I learned how to photograph in manual and edit my own photos (something I had wanted to do for years!). I didn’t ‘have time’ for it but I made time for it, and I’m so glad that I did.
Ask for help.
Though this won’t be an option for everyone, if help is available to you don’t hesitate to ask for it. If your spouse, your parents or your in-laws can help with the kids even a few hours a week, it can be life changing. If you can hire someone to play with them while you work, help keep the house clean or prepare your meals (weekly meal box services are great!), DO IT.
Let go of the guilt.
Mama guilt is a real thing and it’s a terrible feeling. Know that your children will benefit from seeing you do something you love. They’ll learn what true passion is and what working hard for something you believe in looks like. The best thing of all is that even if you’re working, you’re right there if they need you. I pause all the time for quick snuggle sessions, kisses and nap-time stories.
Whatever your situation, I hope these tips will help you have a happy and productive life at home with both your business and your babies. It takes great discipline to be a successful stay at home working mom, but how glorious it is to work with a babe at your side!
Are you a stay at home working mama? What helps you maintain balance in working and mothering?