It’s been over 9 months since Ireland Jade made her entrance into the world. I’ve been back to work since she was just a few weeks old and I’ve finally found a pretty good groove for myself. I thought I would help out my fellow mom bosses with my top tips for working from home with a baby!
But first, full disclaimer…
My life as a work-from-home mama is NOWHERE NEAR as glamorous as these photos make it look.
These photos are a cute representation of what many outsiders think working from home looks like. And how I wish it looked! But honestly, it’s a lot more spilled coffee, dirty diapers strewn about, piles of laundry, and dark under-eye circles. The main thing you need to know is that I’m a hot mess 99.9% of the time. So if you’re looking for advice from an expert, this is not the place. I’m just an entrepreneur mama, chasing big business goals and learning every day as I go!
Despite the constant chaos, I’m finally reaching a place where I’m getting into somewhat of a groove with this mom thing. It’s a constant struggle for balance but these are some things that have really helped me navigate this and I want to share them with you!
I’ve broken these tips up into three sections: The Essentials, The Do’s and The Don’ts
Photos by Emily Lauren
A great laptop – For the first 8 years of my business, I did all of my work on a desktop. I had a couple of laptops here and there, but nothing I ever felt comfortable editing on or particularly loved. When Ireland was born, being glued to my desk all day was no longer a possibility so a laptop was a must! I got a 15″ Surface Book 2 and it is literally my other baby! I have now completely phased out my desktop. The laptop moves throughout the house with us all day and I squeeze in little bits of work whenever I get the chance!
A video baby monitor – Nap time is jam time! Anytime Ireland goes down for a nap or for bedtime is when I try to crank out as much work as I can. Our video baby monitor helps me feel comfortable with working downstairs at my desk while Ireland sleeps peacefully upstairs.
Amazon Alexa – That thing is my homegirl. Ireland even recognizes the word “Alexa” now and knows exactly where to look when I say it. I got it as a gift a few years back and didn’t use it much. But since becoming a mommy, it is now something that I use daily. I’m always using Alexa to set reminders, google questions, and run my day while having my hands full with a little one!
A To-Do list app – I’m a pen and paper girl and I love writing out my to-do list. But that has not been the best method in this current season of life. Thanks to “mom brain” I am always losing my lists or forgetting what I was going to write down by the time I get a chance to write it. I’ve started using the Microsoft To-Do app which syncs between my computer and phone. Now I can quickly jot down a thought or task now matter where I am at and even set deadlines, reminders, and such. This is so important for keeping myself on track with the millions of things I need to remember.
Coffee – I mean, this one is pretty much #1 for me. Absolutely crucial to my survival. Obviously.
Create your own little space – I used to have an epic office that was my sanctuary for my workday. When we found out that we were expecting, I traded in my office for a nursery! At first, I was a little bummed to not have my special workplace anymore. But I soon realized that being cooped up in an office just wasn’t realistic for this season of my life anyway. Instead, I put my desk in the living room facing inward to the room so I can watch the tv, watch Ireland play, and be part of the action. It’s my little command station! It’s not much, but having my own little space really helps me to focus. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a dedicated workspace, even if it’s just a small desk or nook.
Learn to compartmentalize – This one is tough for me! I am very affected by my surroundings and have a hard time zoning in. But being able to get yourself out of home/mom mode and quickly into work mode is so important when working from home. When it’s work time, you have to get down to business and FOCUS. You have to block out the dirty dishes and the piles of laundry. You need to mentally “go to work” and forget everything that needs to get done at home. This is one of the biggest challenges that I struggle with every day but it’s such a key to success.
Accept help from others – Ahhh it’s so tough sometimes. You want to be Supermom and you want to do it all on your own! But that’s a quick way to burn out. If you’re lucky enough to have friends and family that offer to help you, take them up on it! Andrew and I both work a lot but we are blessed to get a ton of help from our parents who are happy to hang out with baby girl. Sometimes it’s so hard for me to let someone else take care of Ireland when I technically have nowhere else to be… I want to spend as much time with her as possible! But those days when I get help and I just focus on my work for a few hours make all the difference!
Find your groove and embrace it – If you can find a rhythm that works for you and your little one… run with it! Even if it’s not what you initially wanted or how you think things should be. For the first few months of Ireland’s life, I tried so hard to go to bed early and wake up early to work before she woke up. It made the most sense. That’s the schedule Andrew is on and it seemed like the “right” thing to do. But no matter how I tried, it just didn’t work. I was constantly sleeping in and missing my chance to work or waking up in time but struggling to jump in and be productive. One night I had a lot of work to catch up on and I decided to pull a late night to knock it all out. And since then… I never went back! I now do the bulk of my work at night and I’ve just learned to embrace the fact that this is what works for me. Even though I’m sometimes sending out client emails at midnight and there’s only a few hours each night that Andrew and I sleep next to each other… late nights are my groove and there’s no fighting it. It’s not the ideal scenario that I planned for, but it’s what is getting us through this season and I’ve learned to just accept it. Find what works for you and go with it! Being a work-from-home mama is challenging enough without you creating more challenges for yourself.
Get out of the house – Work days at Starbucks are my Holy Grail. I can get more done in 3 hours of focused work time outside of my home than I can do in a 14-hour day at home with Ireland. When I get the opportunity to work at a coffee shop, I feel so inspired and in my zone. All it takes is just those few hours to get me completely motivated and re-energized. I’ve been trying my best to arrange this once a week!
Trying to do it all – You can do it all, but you can’t do it all well. Allow yourself to be free of some duties by outsourcing and hiring out. Whether it be tasks within your workload or things around the house…take some things off of your plate. It’s hard to let go, but doing less means that you can perform better in the things that you do take on. For me, that looks like: using Instacart for groceries when I’m extra busy, getting some help with housecleaning, and outsourcing some tasks in my business as well. It’s been extremely freeing and I can’t imagine trying to do those things on top of everything I already do. I encourage you to not be afraid of getting help where you need it. That may mean using a meal-prep service, utilizing childcare a few days a week, or hiring an intern. But whatever you do, don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to do it all on your own.
Mom guilt – Just don’t do it. Mom guilt is all-consuming and if you allow it to eat you up, you will never feel like you’re good enough. There’s always something to feel guilty about. You’ll feel like you’re spending too much time on your business or career. You’ll worry that you’re not giving your baby enough attention. You’ll feel guilty about being tired and not enthusiastic enough because you’ve been working crazy hours. One thing I’ve learned from talking to other mamas in all different forms of mothering is that this guilt is universal. It doesn’t matter if you are a stay at home mom who spends every waking minute with their child or if you work outside the home and send your kid to the best daycare there is. There will always be a reason to feel like a failure. More than likely, those reasons are invalid and not true at all. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the vicious cycle of mom-guilt. Remind yourself that you are raising your little one and providing for your family and you are doing the best you can.
Being afraid to say no – Having a baby has made running my business much more challenging. But in some ways, it has also helped me as a business owner. I now value my time much more than I ever have and I’m careful about what I say “yes” to. I used to never want to say “no” to anything, but now I won’t take jobs or commitments that aren’t in the best interest of our family. If you’re like me and tend to be the kind of person who jumps at every opportunity, here is a piece of advice that has really stuck with me: “Every yes, is also a no”. You may not want to turn things down out of fear of missing out. But every time you say “yes” to one thing, you say “no” to another. Saying”yes” to that extra job is a direct “no” to everything else you could be doing with that time. So no matter what you choose, something is at stake. It’s up to you to prioritize and decide what is important to you.
Having unrealistic expectations – I’m just gonna break it to you right here and now… You ARE going to have times where everything feels out of control and you feel like you’re failing at all of it. You’re NOT going to be the perfect Pinterest mom all of the time, no matter how bad you want to be. You ARE going to miss a deadline or big opportunity at some point. You WILL question if you’re cut out for this and contemplate quitting. Don’t set yourself up for failure by having unrealistic expectations. Be patient as you find your way. Forgive yourself when you fall a little short.
You’re only human and you’re doing an amazing job, Mama!