Throughout January, I will be sharing products and habits that have helped me in the past year and ones that I think will help me (and you!) in the next year. I get asked often about how I manage a blog (which is a small business) while also being a stay-at-home mom so thought I would write a post about it. If you’re thinking about starting a new venture this year, some of these things might help you, too!
First, let me just say, that working from home is not all it’s cracked up to be, at least when you have young children at home. Actually I think it’s nearly impossible to work from home with young children if you don’t have help. At least it was for me.
I remember when my oldest daughter was a toddler I worked from home for an event production company with a “let’s hop on the phone in five minutes” kind of boss. I worked 30 hours a week but had only about 12 hours of children which was, let’s be honest, a complete nightmare. I remember one day when I had to put her in the crib during a last minute conference call (because I didn’t have any other options!) and she just wailed and wailed as I would go back and forth from rooms, unclicking the mute button whenever I had to speak. Talk about S-T-R-E-S-S-F-U-L!
I learned my lesson from that job experience. If I am going to be a stay-at-home and work on DoSayGive, I need to find a way to do it where I am not frazzled all the time. Here are 10 things that have helped me so far:
1. Letting Go of the “Perfect Schedule”
Many experts recommend set work hours when working from home, but it’s been pretty impossible for me to nail down a concrete schedule. I like to say my work time is the early morning hours, nap time, and while my youngest daughter is at preschool, but no matter how I hard I try, something always throws my writing schedule for a loop (like my oldest being home sick every day this week!).
It can be super frustrating at times, but the beauty of being a blogger is that I don’t have to answer to a boss. If I don’t post on Instagram everyday, it’s okay. My children are my priority and so is being present when they are home as much as I can. So if I don’t get the post done because of a field trip or a doctor’s appointment, then I stay up late to finish it or push it back to another day. I know one day they will all be in school all day and my day won’t be so discombobulated, Until then, I just have to roll with it.
2. My own desk
Obvious, but important. Having my own designated work space that’s off limits to the children is crucial. And, for that matter, so is having my own computer. My children aren’t allowed to use it;).
3. A helpful husband
I am blessed to have a husband who “gets it.” If I had a week where I didn’t get much accomplished, he will happily will take them on a Saturday outing to Bass Pro Shop so I can have some much needed uninterrupted work time . During my busy times (#NSale and and holiday gift guide prep!), he will take care of bath and bed time so I can get in a few extra hours of work. He also cooks dinner on the weekends. Like I said, I am blessed.
4. An Intern
I reached the point last year where I could afford to hire someone – yay! As a mompreneur, I realize I CANNOT do it all. So I thought about the time-consuming tasks I don’t like to do – responding to email inquiries, pinning, and simple graphic design stuff – and assigned them to my eager college intern. This was by far the best business decision I made in 2016 and lightened my stress load tenfold.
5. WD Cloud Mirror + EyeFi Camera Card
I have a chronic problem. And it’s storage. My phone, my camera, my computer. Last year I purchased the WD Cloud Mirror to use as an external hard drive. Bonus: it’s wireless. Extra Bonus: I can access my files anywhere in the world.
As a blogger, the Eyefi Camera card has been so helpful to transfer my DSLR photos to my phone over wifi. Great for travel! (I have to thank friend and tech expert, Stephanie Drenka, for telling me about both of these things!).
6. Grocery Delivery Service and Favor App
My youngest daughter is in school three half-days of week, which is not nearly enough time to work/do errands/volunteer at the school, etc. While I used to do grocery shopping during school times, now I often use a grocery delivery service like Instacart of Amazon Fresh. (I search google for coupon codes). I think I spend less money because I buy what we need and am not tempted to toss stuff in the cart.
Favor delivery service (in Dallas) comes in super handy during times of desperation. For example: last month I needed to pick something up at Swoozie’s for a post, but it wasn’t going to be ready until 6 pm. So I could either drag all my children (one who was sick) out during the miserable rush hour holiday traffic and take them into the store where I would probably wait in line for 20 minutes. Or I could use that certain 60-70 minutes of time to do other things and pay Favor about $14 to run the errand. WELL WORTH IT.
7. Housekeeper/Cleaning Service
You are noticing a theme here: outsourcing. I cannot be a full-time stay-at-home mom and full-time blogger without something giving. I have a housekeeper one day a week (she will keep my children, too, if needed). She does the deep cleaning, sheet changing, and ironing. If you are thinking of working from home, I would highly recommend figuring out how you can budget for a housekeeper or maid service twice a month or once a week. Bonus if they can do laundry.
On that note, my children have daily and weekly chores. Even their little tasks like feeding the dog and making their beds help lighten my load each day.
8. Fellow Mompreneur Friends
It’s essential to have support! One of my best friends is also a stay-at-home business owner (I’ve featured Well Bowed many times!). We bounce ideas off each other at least once a day. And we come to each other’s rescue when needed. Last spring I had a speaking engagement in McKinney and my husband couldn’t take my pre-schooler to school (and I was stressed for a variety of reasons!) So my friend, Brooksie, happily came over, straightened up my messy den (now that’s friendship!) and took my daughter to school. Since we don’t have family in town, having these types of friends has been such a blessing!
9. Wireless Hotspot
As many of you know, the carpool line can be quite productive. Sometimes I turn on the wireless hotspot on my phone so I get on the internet and work on my blog. We changed our data plan recently to make sure that I don’t get exorbitant charges for doing this. I also always bring my laptop to my daughter’s doctor and therapy appointments and ask for the wifi password.
10. To-Do List
I have tried lots of task apps but I always go back to my note pad. I have one pad and it’s usually a spiral pad from CVS, but sometimes it’s cuter like this personalized pad from Joy Creative Shop. On the left side I have a personal list of to-dos, on the right I have my business list of to-dos. Having them all in once place helps me tremendously. I also use my Emily Ley’s Weekly Planner for my calendar. The leather cover makes it easy to toss in my tote and not worry about getting it damaged.
I know so many of you are work-from-home moms who have some great tips s0 please share in the comment section below. And if you’d like me to share some tips specific to blogging, let me know.
One final word to the young moms out there reading this: before I was a blogger, I often felt like being a mom to three young children wasn’t enough. (Why does our culture make us feel this way?). I always thought I needed to start an Etsy business or maybe start selling a product from home to appear as though I had a well-rounded. But I believe this now more than ever: being a mom is enough. It’s more than enough. If you are blessed to be a stay at home mom, claim it proudly. This post was in no way written with the intention of making you feel like you need to do “something else.”