How to Be A Successful Work-at-Home Mom
Today I'm talking about some lessons I've learned for success as a work-at-home mom. When I had my first child, balancing motherhood and my business was chaotic. I had first-time-mom overwhelm and inconsistent childcare. So when Layla came I vowed to have a set plan. So here are my tips for my fellow creative entrepreneurs who are also raising littles!
1. Be clear with clients about your work hours
My new client packet says 10-4 Monday through Thursday. Of course I often work beyond that (love my Netflix + assembly nights!), but it manages everyone's expectations right from the start. As a work-at-home mom, I really try not to do any real work on Fridays beyond email so I can focus fully on my kids that day.
(Boomerang for Gmail has been so helpful with this. It allows you to schedule when to send emails so clients don't know you're on email at 9pm on a Sunday night!)
2. Put your phone in another room
A stationer friend gave me this tip and it's been amazing. When the phone is nearby it's so easy to do a quick Instagram sesh or check the inbox. But removing the temptation is the easiest way to stay present.
3. Get really good at working in spurts
Plan, plan plan! Unless I go to a coffee shop, there is still at least one kid usually in my house. Even with a babysitter here, I may need to stop working to nurse or do some other home or mom task. Consecutive hours of uninterrupted work are rare, so that's why I start every day with a plan. In Evernote I plan my week every Sunday evening, noting 3 things I need to get done each day. (Read more about my 3-things daily planning here). Things shift as the week goes on, so I usually reassess each night before bed. This has been invaluable in feeling accomplished + organized at the end of the day! You'd be amazed at how productive you can be with just 30 minutes when you don't waste time figuring out what needs to be done next.
4. Get help
No matter how good you are at multi-tasking, it's really valuable to know when you'll have a block of time to work uninterrupted. (And we all know multi-tasking doesn't always yield the best results for quality work!) If your kids sleep well, nighttime is great, but some days you're just so gassed from watching them that you just want to sleep or unwind with some TV + wine. I am fortunate to have Finley in school and a nanny that comes a few mornings a week to watch the baby. This way I am able to schedule meetings or anything that requires 100% of my focus. If that's not an option for you, have an afternoon where a friend watches her kids and yours, and another afternoon where you do the same.
5. Give yourself a break
Each day is different, which is part of the fun of being an entrepreneur, but it also has its challenges. Some days I give my 3-year-old a half-hour extra of TV so I can get a time-sensitive task done, and often I'm checking email while I'm nursing. I used to beat myself up for not being present all the time, but now I know that's an impossible standard. I get to be with my kids a ton which I love, and they get to see first-hand their mom working hard. Though mom guilt never goes away, don't let it cripple your creativity!