Ya, I said it. It’s the sweetest gig and the most challenging of my life, all wrapped into one. I love my business, I love my son – I don’t love being everything, all at once, all the time.
Before we were even considering having children, my ex-husband and I discussed how we wanted them (which ended up just being one him) to be raised. We would be a two-income family for the foreseeable future, but we wanted one of us to be in the position to be at home with the kids. We wanted our future children to be with at least one parent the majority of the time. Not that there’s anything wrong with the alternatives, that was just our ideal.
Becoming a Work from Home Mom
In February of 2013, with the support of my then-husband, I quit my “real” job and went solo. I’d already been taking on freelance copywriting projects while working, had some steady clients, and realized I was doing better without the middleman in the middle of my work. It was great, no more bosses, clients hired me because they sought my expertise rather than me just being someone who tasks were delegated to! I was so built to be self-employed, and I think I always knew that – I was really terrible at having bosses.
So two months later, what better time to get pregnant than when you have a brand new business? Being pregnant and self-employed was awesome for me, because it was really conducive to my pregnant lady napping habit. This was great, I had nine months to grow the business a little more, establish a routine, and then the baby would come and we’d just keep on rolling with it! I’ll just work when the baby sleeps!
Ya… because that’s how it always works. So easy… NOT.
I was always in work mode, while simultaneously being in mom mode. I can’t tell you how many times I searched for job openings, ready to throw in the towel and find a “real job” that gave me a clear-cut work/life balance – days away from my son, nights and weekends free to enjoy him rather than worry about how I would accomplish things. So rough.
Work from Home Mom Knowledge
So here we are, 5 years into this self-employment thing and 4 years post-baby. I’m still struggling to find balance, but I’ve managed to figure things out a little more. If there is anything I’ve learned in this time that could help another mom out in this life, it’s this stuff:
Adjust how you work.
This is two-fold. You’re probably not going to get the 9-5 schedule you may have had before – come to terms with it. Start figuring out when you can work and how that works with your life. It took me so long to accept that working in the evenings and on weekends was just my new normal, as I always loved the 9-5 life.
Once you figure out when you can actually work, you may need to adjust the kind of work you do. For me, it was taking projects that were shorter. I was used to taking big website content jobs, tons of pages, which I needed time to get into… time a baby just wasn’t giving me. While I still do some of these projects, my bread and butter is shorter stuff now, like blogs. Things I can accomplish wholly over the course of a nap or an evening, that I can do one piece and pick it back up later when the day isn’t so hectic.
Learn to delegate.
This is perhaps the best thing I’ve learned that has truly helped my business. See, I’ve always had a problem saying no to my clients – I didn’t want them to turn to someone else! I’d accept any project and stress myself out completing it. So about a year ago, I’d gotten myself in a pinch completing something, and I put feelers out to see if anyone might want to give it a shot and work with me. Best thing ever.
Now I’ve created a fairly smoothly running, two-person team that is able to accept anything my clients need, without me pulling all-nighters and stressing myself out. I get to help another person make their work-at-home dreams possible…. However crazy it really is. It’s hard to relinquish some control, but when you’re maxing yourself out, you have to figure out how to manage it.
Pad your deadlines.
This is something that has become important as I’ve started delegating. The gal who works for me, she’s a mom, too. And she’s got 4 kids, and another job, and has far more life to handle than I do. So within our work process, I pad our deadlines. I give her a due date, and my due date for final submittal is typically 2 days after that. This gives us some breathing room for when life gets in the way.
Just this week, she messaged me saying she was going to stay up all night completing a project that was due the next day. I said no way! No need to kill yourself, I can give you an extra day on this – I don’t want anyone burning themselves out working for me, and I know you can’t manage your kids on no sleep. So this really helps, giving yourself some extra time in case your life gets in the way.
So yes, working at home with your kid is an amazing opportunity to support them and see them grow. It’s also the worst decision I’ve made some days. It’s going to feel super tough, but if you are truly committed to this life, you are going to figure out how to make it work for you. Those horrible days, just know what your purpose for doing this is – your kids, your life, your family, and your own happiness.