Ever since becoming a mom myself, I crave information and tips from other moms who are seeking some sort of daily balance. (aren't we all?!) Whether you're a full-time stay at home mom, you work outside the home, or work from home – every scenario seems to have benefits and challenges. It may be surprising to a lot of people that I'm primarily a work from home mom. I spend about 75% of my time working from home, while the other 25% is spent filming on set, attending meetings and events, or spent traveling for book signings or press appearances. This was what I had always hoped for! I think that I was a bit naive in assuming that this was the most manageable way to approach working motherhood. While I'm immensely grateful to spend a lot of time at home, I quickly realized after having my son that juggling both roles day in and day out from my small apartment in NYC was going to be trickier than I had thought. After spending 2 years trying to figure out what works best for us, I think I'm finally starting to get into a groove. Below are 5 tips that have been the most beneficial for me personally when it comes to working from home. This little video is a small peek into our daily routine around here. Some days it works better than others! We're constantly adjusting things around here to make sure everyone's needs are met.
1. Maximize nap time. I refer to these precious hours as the "golden hours!" I work with intense focus and efficiency to accomplish as much as possible. Anything you can do to encourage your little one to get as much sleep as they need is both good for your kiddo and great for getting a lot done. A good quality room darkening and child safe window treatment in the nursery was a must for me as a new parent. It's resulted in more sleep for me and baby – not only do I not have to worry about cords being a safety hazard, the blackout effect allows everyone around here to get as much sleep as possible. When I'm well rested, I'm insanely more productive during the day. Investing in a good blackout shade for the nursery is one of the first tips I rattle off to friends that are expecting. The first time we installed a blackout option it went very badly. I was essentially using a spring rod with blackout panels and they would fall down at least twice a day – sometimes during nap time waking up Ollie and robbing myself of precious nap hours. I literally taped black garbage bags to my windows at one point. After making those mistakes, I made the conscious decision to invest in really good quality blackout shades and I've never looked back.
2. Establish a weekly routine. I've found that it's crucial for my home to feel like it's in some sort of "order" before I can be productive. By having one or two housekeeping tasks that I tackle each day of the week, things are easily kept up. In a moment of mom desperation I attended a small seminar hosted by Power of Moms a few months ago. It was a fantastic way to hear what works for other moms and to gain some knowledge and skills about how to better handle being a mom – especially while trying to find some sort of balance with my work. One of the most valuable lessons learned was that I need to have set weekly routines and responsibilities. Simple things like having a set day where I run the vacuum over my rugs, water my planters boxes, and wipe down all of the mirrors and windows in the apartment made such a difference in me feeling like I had some sort of control in my life. By doing a few small things each day, the upkeep began to feel more manageable and my apartment was never getting unbearably messy. Living and working in an organized space is HUGE for me.
3. Finish tasks before moving on to others. There's nothing worse that feeling like you didn't accomplish anything at the end of the day – especially when you're emotionally and physically exhausted after hours of juggling work and trying being a present parent. I've found the best way to combat this feeling, is to start and finish a task before moving on to something else on my list. It may take me all day to accomplish it, but at least I get to check one thing off the list at the end of the day. This has been a great way for me to prioritize deadlines as well.
4. Map out your week. A proper plan will work wonders for keeping a busy working schedule at home in check. I reserve Sunday evenings to create a roadmap for the week and share it with my husband so that we can tackle the coming week as a team. I feel like this tip sounds somewhat obvious, but I can't tell you what a difference it makes to have a bird eye view of what's ahead. It helps me to set expectations and coordinate additional help if needed. It's also great for Robby to know if it's going to be a particularly busy week for me – it's been a really beneficial experience to work as a team. A great example of this has been switching off mornings with Ollie. Ollie is an EARLY riser – if one of us gets up with him consistently we start to look like a walking zombie. Once we realized that it was taking a toll, we decided to alternate mornings with him. This plan has been a great way for us to know that we've each got a couple mornings throughout the week where we can sleep in or get up and get work done. This idea of mapping out your upcoming week is not only good for work and family obligations, it's also great for meals. A weekly meal plan will make your life spent in your kitchen feel more under control just like a weekly road map will make your home life feel more in control. (Are you picking up on the fact that I crave an organized home life yet?!)
5. Build a good support team. Whether it's a nanny, babysitter, playgroup or daycare, realize that no one can do it ALL on their own. In the beginning, I thought that I could manage most of it on my own if I just planned to get my work done during nap time and in the evenings. After 3 months of doing this I realized that this was a recipe for disaster. For me, I can't work every night after putting Ollie down. I need my nights to de-stress, spend time with Robby, and let my mind rest a little bit. We are incredibly blessed to have my sister Kylie as part of our team. In addition to her helping out with my little guy (and being the world's greatest aunt), Kylie also helps me with work projects. She takes all of the beautiful photos on this blog, makes videos just like this one, and helps to manage my social media. I'd be lost without her! What's particularly great about her and the way she helps our family is that she can ping pong between giving Ollie needed attention and helping me with something work related. We hit the jackpot with her – and there's not a day that goes by that I'm not immensely grateful for her place in our family/work life.
Sending a big high five to all moms out there. This is a tough job whether you "work" or not and I'm sure I'll spend my lifetime trying to obtain the perfect "balance." In the meantime, I'm going to focus on keeping all of the balls in the air. There will be days when I'm a better mom than employee and vice versa. I think what's most important is to remember that we should all be kind to ourselves and expect for things to get a little unbalanced every now and then – then we'll adjust and start the process all over again. Motherhood is the greatest and most challenging part of my life – I wouldn't have it any other way and have profound respect for anyone out there just trying their best to manage it all. Keep on keepin' on mamas!
A few sources from the video:
Video: Kylie Whiting
Motorized Blackout Roller Shades: Decorview
Planter boxes: Dig Brooklyn
Letterpressed Herb Markers: etsy - half pink ink studio
Weekly planner: Paper Source