I was a new mom. I was 100% committed on going back to work after my daughter was born and did. But while I was on maternity leave, things changed.
I went back to a new office area and a new boss. The job I once loved with the people I loved, was different. And not in a good way. I felt my boss felt threatened by me. Things were awkward and my co-workers felt the same. The environment became toxic and after a “come to Jesus” with my hubby, he convinced me now was the time to quit my full-time and freelance, like I’ve talked about doing.
I put in my 2 weeks, told the clients I was moonlighting for I was going off on my own and the ball was rolling! I mean, how hard can it be? I’d work when she’s napping and in the evenings a bit, and I could spend time with her, get things done around the house. It would be perfect.
It was anything but perfect.
But like any life change, you live and learn and that’s why I wanted to share the 3 things I’ve learned about raising a family & raising a business. Times have changed from when I first started freelancing 8 years ago, but each year a I learn a bit more.
1. After babies start walking, working is close to impossible
I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer on this entire post, but I also will point out realities. Newborns are great! I mean, they sleep. A lot. And that’s great time to get work done. But as they get older, sleep is less…mobility is more. I remember when my daughter hit 9 months and started walking (WHO STARTS WALKING AT 9 MONTHS??) things at the home office changed.
The pack-n-play wasn’t going to cut it when she knew she could get out. The bumbo and baby bouncers could no longer be used to contain them in one area. You walk away and come back…and they’re not in the same spot.
When babies start getting mobile, you’re going to have to adjust from those blocks of work-time you could have to another plan.
My suggestion: If you can afford it, find a part-time daycare or babysitter that can come in for a few hours a day to watch the littles. That will give you blocks of time to work without having to get up and down, making sure they aren’t eating the dog food.
2. Work/life balance is a myth.
“I thought you didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer!”
So I maybe lied about that. But not so much a downer, but again, a reality check. And this lesson goes beyond working from home. It goes for full time working moms outside the home, it goes for part-time working moms and it goes for stay-at-home moms.
When I started freelancing, I thought I could get the best of both worlds. Work a little. Mom a little. And we’d all hold hands in harmony.
But in reality, when I was working and my kids were home, I felt I should be with them. And when I was with them, I felt I should be checking my email to see if that client had gotten back to me about that project due tomorrow. Throw on top of that all normal household activities such as cleaning, cooking, shopping, feeding, soccer practice, swim lessons…you name it.
I was wearing too many hats at all times. And that got hard.
My advice: The Rule of Three Balls. I was once told that at any time in a woman’s life, she can juggle only 3 balls. These balls are the things that need yoru attention and you can’t let drop. The others…let ’em go. You can’t juggle four. Only three.
If you have a deadline due tomorrow: that’s a ball. If your kid has an ear infection and needs your TLC: that’s a ball. Making sure your 2 year old can swim before the summer starts: possibly not a ball right now.
Because if you try to juggle more, one will drop. And you may not get to choose which one crashes to the ground.
Give yourself some grace and remember three balls at a time.
3. You’re going to need help in some way.
I say these things a lot:
“I just need to clone myself.”
“I need a few more hours in the day.”
“Maybe if I just don’t sleep tonight…”
Our society thrives on people being busy and the media puts women in front of us who seem to have it all (breaking news: they don’t). As much as I needed to work, as much as I wanted to be with my kids, as much as I couldn’t say no to anything, I learned I needed help.
And sometimes I need help with work. Sometimes I need help with my kids. And sometimes I need help in the form of self care.
When my third child was born, I went back to work in 2 weeks. He was born in March and since I design for weddings, he was born in the fresh start of wedding season in Nebraska. I told a few of my couples who were getting married in April not to worry…I’d be there for them. And I worked ahead of schedule before he was born to make sure all my other couples had their wedding invites in time.
I had good babies. Ones that would sleep a lot and feed well. So I banked on him being the same. Thank goodness he was. But that didn’t make it easy.
I won’t forget the night (night…mind you), I was at my computer, exhausted and it hit me I can’t do this anymore. I can’t work full time and be a newborn mama full time (plus 2 other kids). I broke down and sobbed. SOBBED!
And at that point I went online and hired an accountant to do all my books for the year and I put an “ad” out on a local Facebook moms group for women to help me assemble invitations.
I finally realized I needed help with work.
And when things get crazy at home and I have a lot of work going on and the kids have a million things going on (and the hubby is out of town for work), I’m not afraid to send that text to my mom of “can you come down for a few days?” And my mom is awesome and she does.
My advice: Ask for help. Hire help. If that’s for your work and outsourcing a few of the things you can’t get to (nor want to get to) or asking your parents, sister, a good friend to watch the kids overnight, for the day, for the weekend…so you can catch up on life.
With that, it’s so hard to forget about YOU when things are busy. Work piles up, momming piles up and mom guilt is always in your backseat.
Advice #2: Lock mom guilt in your trunk and get a pedi. Grab a Starbucks with your girlfriend you haven’t seen in 5 years (yet live 2 miles from), go shoe shopping or hell, take a nap! You have to do it.