So I know it seems crazy to start a business while your primary role is caretaker to two kiddos and a house that is never clean enough. But hear me out! When I started planning for my business at the beginning of last year, my babies were still just that - babies!
My son wasn't even walking yet, and my daughter still resembled something of a toddler. Juggling my new desires to branch out into entrepreneurship was daunting at first but with careful planning, dedication, lots and LOTS of coffee, and let's be honest, a little help from the TV and a wonderful community of creatives, I've been able to grow my business in ways I never thought possible. Here's a sampling of some of the things I've learned over the last 18 months that have helped me stay sane and stay productive.
1. KEEP REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS
I'll start with this one because it's probably the most important thing I've learned, and it was NOT easy at first. As my daughter has gotten older, I've even recruited her to help me keep an eye on the clock. This way the kids know exactly when mommy is working and when mommy is ready to play. Ideally it also keeps me from getting distracted because I know at a certain time, work stuff will be shut down and playtime will begin. Since my kiddos are little and I'm not at all a morning person who wakes up with patience and joy, (until I've had my coffee) I spend my mornings responding to emails and getting the boring business-y stuff done first. Also, I always always always work during nap or rest time. That's like when moms get stuff done! If you look closely at my social media, you will notice a trend of posts between 1-3 pm because that's when my kiddos are asleep and out of my hair. For me, I've learned that a regular schedule makes it way easier to get things done.
2. LEAVE YOUR HOUSE SOMETIMES
Ideally we'd do something everyday, but that's not always the case. I worked really hard this summer to make sure my kiddos had playdates, activities, and structured events like they do during the school year. A bored child will NOT let you work! Their minds need stimulation and play and the TV will not do the job. A quick trip to the library or treating your kids to ice cream will liven the mood and keep everybody from feeling the cabin fever. I've learned outings big and small are 100% crucial to everyone staying calm. I mean, who doesn't love a change of scenery once in awhile?
3. MAKE YOURSELF UP A BIT
Sure, I work at home and me and the kids spend most of our time here, but the basis of this journey has always been to put myself first sometimes. That goes for my appearance as well! No, I'm not talking about a full face and high heels at home - unless that's what you're in to! But for me, I feel like I've reached a happy medium somewhere in the mom-chic world.
Thanks to leggings, tunics, cardigans, (if it's ever cold in Texas again) tons of easy dresses and comfy, cute shoes that match everything in my closet, I've got an easy style that's comfy and looks great all day. My hair might be in a top knot or braid, but I've learned to be ok with that! I almost never have time to blow dry my hair, and when I do, inevitably that's the day I get all hot and sweaty in my garden. Ok, that's everyday...
I've also figured out how to get my makeup routine down to about five minutes thanks to a BB cream, eyeliner, and mascara. And most importantly, I learned to give myself a break for those days that even easy outfits and hair are too much.
4. LISTS AND PLANNERS ARE YOUR BFF
For real, I don't know what I'd do without my Passion Planner. I have so many plates spinning in the air at once that it'd be impossible to do it all without it. What's great is with my planner, I can separate both personal and work goals for the week. I can even list them by priority, so I know what really needs to be done and what can maybe wait.
I'm also going to piggyback on this planning section to tell you that you NEED to be automating as many things as you can. While still pretty new to automating my business, it's been a total gamechanger! There are plenty of platforms, both free and paid, that allow you to schedule your social media posts and keep them organized. I have friends who sing their praises for Hootsuite, and I myself am a yuuuge fan of Planoly for Instagram. The tools are out there to keep you organized and once you start using them, you'll learn how crazy you are for waiting so long to find them.
5. FIND YOUR TRIBE
If you've followed me for long then you know I'm a BIG fan of collaboration in my field. Working with others has taught me more than I ever thought possible about this crazy creative industry of mine. My advice is find a network of people that makes you feel like you have coworkers. I have found it to not only be invaluable to my business, but I've made a ton of friends! They are my soundboard. They listen when I need to vent. They lift up great ideas and gently hold me back on ones that might not be so hot.
Whether it's a small local circle of like-minded business people or you're part of a large national group, like The Rising Tide Society, finding your tribe can make all the difference for those who work at home. Especially because a lot of us are one-man shows, and the kids don't have many ideas beyond fart jokes. Then again, I'm sure there's a market for that!
6. FIND THE POSITIVE
One thing you might hear me talking about from time to time is meditation and mindfulness. These things will help you to not dwell on what you didn't get done, and instead consider the things you did accomplish, both professionally and with your kiddos. It will help you find your peace and find the joy in your day through mindful reflection. At the end of the day (or beginning like me) reflect on what's happened or what's to come.
Maybe you didn't get to everything on your list and didn't check all the boxes in your planner, but did you guys go outside and paint for an hour? Or play in the sprinkler? Did you get that blog post written or those social media posts scheduled? Or did you fold that mountain of laundry that's been waiting for 3 days? Did you actually make it to the post office before it closed for once? Or maybe instead you and your brood plopped on the couch for a rainy day movie. Or maybe you went to the gym. Oh yeah, have you drank enough water today? Texted your mom back? See what I mean? It's a lot and the point is, you might be able to get it all done, you might not. The thing to remember is to give yourself some grace when you fail and not just praise when you succeed. Remember y'all, we can have it all, just not all in one day.
7. BUSY DOES NOT EQUAL PRODUCTIVE
I will preface this section with THIS IS WHERE I NEED TO TAKE MY OWN DAMN ADVICE! Close down your social media, I repeat, close those tabs (well maybe not this one yet!) and FOCUS on what it is you've got to get done today. Refer back to those lists and your planner to stay on track. Believe me, I have two kids, three cats, a husband and probably 200 plants out back that need me every single day. Distraction is the name of the game around here. It's easy to lose focus then all of a sudden you realize you've been surfing reddit for the last 20 minutes. I've learned to try and save that busy work for when clients and little people are no longer counting on me. It's still a work in progress though!
8. YOU DON'T NEED TO BE A MARTYR BY WORKING ALL THE TIME
Reality check! Are you working to live or living to work? I would rather have less money and more time to do what I love with the people I love rather than spend all my time working and worshipping the almighty dollar. Obviously we want to be comfortable, no one wants to struggle to pay their bills, and the purpose of operating a business is to make money. Ok. I get that. Sometimes to make ends meet you just gotta take a second job or work some freelance on the side. I get that too. But the end goal should always be to get out of that rat race as soon as you can. Scaling back on your lifestyle and maybe sacrificing eating out is the key - it was for us! Because before you know it, your babies will be grown, your youth will have passed, and what will you have to show for it? A thriving business is a HUGE goal of mine, and I'm getting there. But I'm never going to put it before my family, because they are the reason I've begun this journey in the first place.
BONUS: THE KIDS ARE LEARNING SOMETHING TOO -- INDEPENDENCE!
In a world with the perfect pinterest moms, helicopter moms, homeschooling moms, it's easy to think you should be spending every moment teaching or entertaining your kiddos with something. But it hasn't always been that way. When my kids see me work, not only do they see me doing something I love and working hard to achieve that dream, they are learning to keep themselves entertained. Whether it's a book, coloring, painting, toys, sometimes a little TV, it's not my sole purpose to entertain my children. Learning how to be independent is one of the most important gifts I could teach them at a young age. In fact, the sooner the better!
SO there you have it. Working at home with kids, whether it's for yourself, for an employer, full time or part time, is freaking tough! But if working towards your goals really lights your fire every single day you sit down at your desk, then you're in the right place. You're doing the right thing. So don't give up and don't stop!