Happy Tuesday, friends! I am sharing something on the blog today that has taken me exactly 4 years to write, all during which I have held a part (or all!) of my career at home while being home with 1-2 babies. It has taken me 4 years because it is just that tough…and because it is definitely one of those areas of my business where I REALLY don’t have it all worked out at all. BUT it is something I am asked about a lot, and something I have gotten better and better at over time, so I wanted to share some of the lessons I have learned! First of all, I have to say, working from home with your kids at home too is not for the faint of heart (can I get an amen, moms?!)! MOTHERHOOD isn’t for the faint of heart! Being home with my babies is by far the most challenging “job” I have ever held- and most certainly the most rewarding. Getting to see those moments that I was missing while I was at school is indescribable and something that I wouldn’t give up in full for anything- even if some days, I admittedly want to. It is something I dreamed about since I was young- and that is one of the reasons I think it is so hard. I have a lot of expectations for myself, for how crafty or involved or creative or educational or sure-you-can-use-paint-on-the-kitchen floor I am going to be…and I don’t match up to ANY of it. I have told Michael before that sometimes I think I have a desire to work full time again just because I know I’m good at that- at this point, I know I can run my business and very well (or teach choir!). But being a stay at home mom is really tough (and I know being a working mom is too). And then you throw in that I also have a job to run out of that same space that I raise my kids in, and have to either do during the same hours or just during the hours after they go to bed instead of ever spending time with my husband? It is so so hard. So I want to share 3 tips that I have learned and implemented just to make that task a it easier (but mamas, if you have tips on taking away the self-inflicted mom guilt? Send them my way please!).
3 tips for managing a career out of your home while being a stay at home mom
1). Set aside time for each of those two tasks.
This is, in my opinion, the hardest one and the most important one. My first year in this position, I just assumed I could make it all work- I just needed to be able to have my computer in my lap and surely, he will just entertain himself for a little bit of time each day, right? (slaps hand to head at new-mom ignorance!). Your kid might play extremely well by themselves, and I DO believe this is an important skill for them to learn, for sure. But it won’t be enough time, and what will end up happening is your kid will be asking you for attention instead of giving it to your computer, and you will feel guilty, and then maybe angry at you, your computer OR your kid…and it is a vicious cycle that doesn’t easily end. Even if your job is very part time- you deserve a couple of kid free hours during the week to make that job happen. So that you can get the work accomplished- and even more importantly, so that when I do have all that other time with my kids, it’s theirs. That doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally still check or send an email during a morning cartoon, or spend a lot of time still asking them to play on their own in order to get the dishes or laundry done. But it helps so much to give each task it’s specific time.
2). Use naptime well…whether that is for work, household things, or YOU time.
In the beginning, before I got other time that was just for work, I was a naptime warrior for my photography business! I cherished that time so much for my sanity- and used every moment and it was sometimes the only 2 hours I got a day! But sometimes that got challenging for me because as my kids got older and began dropping naps, or if naps just didn’t happen one day, it became another point of contention for me- and I didn’t want that. So now, I count naptime as BONUS time- if I can get some work done, great, and if I can’t, that’s ok too! And some days, I just need to catch up an an episode of TV that I am weeks behind on during naptime instead of work or dealing with the laundry monster…and that is ok too. You time is really scarce as a mother- and you get to have it when you can. Bonus tip: Even AFTER my now 4.5 year old decided to drop his afternoon nap, he still has about an hour of quiet time in his room every day. Usually we try to get him to rest in bed for a bit of it, and then he can play quietly, read, or get to play on his tablet…I truly believe that a little break time for you is needed, and that it is GOOD for them to have quiet time too! Some moms I know have amazing bins full of fun new toys for each day of the week that their kids only get during those quiet times…I am not that organized
( insert mom guilt here) but I think it’s an amazing idea!
3). Don’ be afraid to ask for help (or outsource) when you need it.
I think for some reason, it is culturally acceptable for moms who work out of the home to need some extra help, maybe with cleaning or a meal delivery system, but it seems like if you work from home, you must be super woman and do it all. Being a stay at home mom is a full time job- really just TAKING CARE of the kids is full time, let alone the house work and cooking. Then on top of that, add your other part time work from home job- and that is a LOT! It is ok to get help or outsource some of those tasks that you might not have time for every day or week even if you are at home. You just have to decide how you want to use the time that you have, and what you are willing/able to give up financially in order to use that time as you want. So for us, we have outsourced house cleaning because we want to spend that time with our kids (or resting on the couch with each other after they go to bed!) and that is worth the financial commitment to us. Decide what you want to do without- and know that it is ok to give some things up. Maybe your kids are just in too many activities. Or maybe you are involved in too much outside of the house. Speaking for myself, maybe I need to limit extra portrait sessions just a little more to be home more. It is ok to say no to things, and it is ok to ask help where you need it. It doesn’t make you any less super-mom! 🙂
I hope this is encouraging for you moms out there, especially those working out of your homes while home with your babies. I truly believe that there is no right way to do any of this parenting stuff- just what works best for you and your favorite people! And this is working pretty well for me and mine right now! Hugs mamas–it is such hard work we are doing–and such good work too, isn’t it?